“The entire album is an exorcism of an dead universe. Nothing can stay together here. It’s hauntology as a pasture of incidental tones and half-ripped photographs. The video footage is unable to focus. The lens’s view is eternally obstructed. The wild blurs of compounded biographies come off like a fever dream of a memory play.” – Timothy Gabriele (12 November 2009). Broadcast and the Focus Group: Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age – PopMatters.
This video is one of the things I treasure most on Youtube – it gives me chills every time. It’s a recording of Liz Mitchell of Boney M performing “Motherless Child” live with the Les Humphries singers in the early 1970s. It’s incredible how Mitchell seems to be singing about her removal from herself via recording, its simulacral persistence beyond her existence in that moment… And the wavering picture also speaks of analog decay, arrested and mummified by its digitisation from analog video and (again lossy) upload to Youtube. And then, of course, the song’s origins in slavery and dispossession. So many degrees of loss, so many layers of noise.
Join us! More details HERE. Dedicating my performance to Mark Fisher, who took his own life the other day. His brilliant work, particularly this blog post on hauntology, has been profoundly influential on how I understand archive and aspire to use sound. I’m so sad he is gone.
How sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death.
Currently sitting with this book in my reading queue… i.e. trying to wait until I have read the stuff I need to prioritise before diving into it, but having peeped the PDF I’m struggling to!
Breathless explores early sound recording and the literature that both foreshadowed its invention and was contemporaneous with its early years, revealing the broad influence of this new technology at the very origins of Modernism. Through close readings of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Stéphane Mallarmé, Charles Cros, Paul Valéry, Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Jules Verne, and Antonin Artaud, Allen S. Weiss shows how sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death. Interdisciplinary, the book bridges poetry and literature, theology and metaphysics. As Breathless shows, the symbolic and practical roles of poetry and technology were transformed as new forms of nostalgia and eroticism arose.
“By suggesting that sound recording changes the very notion of textuality at a key inflection point in Modernism, Weiss literally turns the field of cultural studies on its ear.” (Gregory Whitehead, co-editor of Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio and the Avant-Garde)
“The extremely important, cogent analysis adds immeasurably to our knowledge of cultural production in the critical years between early modern lyric and our own post-modern, post-lyric age.” (Lawrence R. Schehr, Professor of French, University of Illinois)
All of these pieces are, to a greater or lesser extent, oriented around a singular idea: atemporality – that the intermeshing and interweaving of the physical and digital causes us not only to experience both of those categories differently, but to perceive time itself differently; that for most of us, time is no longer a…
Svetlana Boym argues that ruins “make us think of the past that could have been and the future that never took place”. She turns the idea about the link between the past and the future around, and suggests we can use ruined or wasted things for clues about society in the present. In this piece I want to think about what certain ways of talking about waste and ruins in South Africa can tell us about pasts that never came to be and futures that never took place.
To do so means briefly thinking about heritage and reconciliation. Heritage, or the singling out of certain histories and people for commemoration, is connected to the idea of reconciliation, because in South Africa, it was meant to do the work of bringing South Africans together as a nation. Through new museums, statues and memorials, heritage would help overcome the long…