Micropolitics of Noise_Analysis

Micropolitics of Noise is a multilayered experimental work that above all want to make a socio-political statement. It wants to communicate the enormous influence thtat the concepts of frequency, vibration and energy in sound have in our lives on physical and psychological levels.

Sonic energy and more specifically noise, is a natural phenomenon. With noise is born disorder and its opposite: the world. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion.

The work gives physical form to the micropolitics of sound-signaling threats and the ways in which noise can be used as form of violence that also shapes the soundscape of the future. A “Sonic War” reminds as that our reactions to fear are not necessarily conscious consequences. When faced with this sort of threat the body experiences three kinds of fear-induced reactions: fight-flight-freeze.

At the same time, the research aspect of the work is presented and shaped each day in real time alongside the performance by documenting the physical and psychological effects on the body. On a technological level, the work uses a human detection system by which visitors activate or restart the soundscape.

The initial aim of the work was to remind the public that the sonic energy is a subjective phenomenon of contact with the body and it very powerful! That it is a kind of energy whose positive and negative effects are usually overlooked or underestimated by the global community. Visitors to the work enter into a field of sonic an-architecture, where the physical, emotional and libidinal dynamics of the body are unconsciously shifted. They set out on a journey that can often be revealing. The number recorded experiences is hugely valuable information. It turns out that sound is a subjectively-perceived phenomenon and reactions to it can cover a very wide range of emotions and responses. Someone could say that the space has been transformed into an environment for out-of-body experiences.


A practical approach to the relationship between the sonic vibrational energy and the human body in the performative space.

Keywords: Performance, Electroacoustic Music, Energy-Frequency-Vibration, Acoustic Ecology, Politics of Noise, Contemporary Audio Culture, Human Body, Hybridisation, Technology/Machine.

Abstract

The title Micropolitics of Noise refers to the processes that seek to intensify frequency vibration as a technique of affective mobilization. On a performative level it refers to the transformation of energies through sound that can be found into any performative space. We hope that the following approach will provide a more solid foundation for unlocking the role of sonic energy and the human body in performing arts in relation to the impact they may cause to the environment of the performance space.

The proposed model considers the human activity as its central theme. Yet as it emerged, it became apparent that this proposal is not so much about a musical narrative language as about the relationship of the human action to other possible sound sources and agencies, whether natural and environmental or human-made and synthetic. Thus, while we identify the human being as the central agent in the discussion, other entities will be identified and contribute to our sonic discourse.

This performative approach, explores the sonic-vibrational elements and qualities in the art of performance with regard to the human body and cognitive processes. The model of sound art performance suggested here, will be presented at the end of this paper through the description of the author’s recent sound works: Micropolitics of Noise and The Ritual. In these two works, the emphasis is placed on the communicational model that draws attention to how the human agent/performer creates relationships between the vibrational, technological and the social space. Therefore, we suggest an inquiry into the field where sonic energy and effort coexist and portray the art of sound and performance as an integrated human activity.

The act of questioning as a starting point.

In a broader sense, as a composer and sound artist I strongly believe that a performative work of art in our era - whether it is sound or visual art - should be able to address a question which will give rise to more questions, possibilities and will regard problems (existential, social or political) from a new angle. The idea under investigation here is the following: what is the relation of performance to our sonic social space and to the expansion of our collective consciousness? As artists, how can we evaluate, be critical of, and join the evolution of collective consciousness?

I feel the need to delve further into this mission in the hope of creating new questions in the sonic performative approaches through which the viewer- listener should not be conscious of the question itself, but to become conscious as the question in the work of art. In that sense, the creative process as well as the artistic result becomes the question itself. Art poses the question to the social environment where it takes place but it doesn’t reveal the answer. 

The sonic event as a phenomenon of contact.

Through out the history of theatre and performing arts, sound has been a major contributor in the dramaturgy and narrative progress. Though, it has mostly functioned as a complimentary, and sometimes as a decorative aspect in the representation/description of characters, ideas and situations. But our intention here, is not to describe or to re-evaluate the role of sonic event in the relationship between actor-character neither in the performer-audience. Our intention is to experience the production and impact of sound as universal phenomenon that functions well before the cognitive appropriation. In other words, it is our contention that sound can be perceived not as a matter of meaning. As opposed to sound as text, the dimension explored here is that of sound as force and as a phenomenon of contact with the human body within the performative space. Seductive and violent. Abstract and physical. The sonic vibrational energy as a precursor arrangement that modulates space and body dynamics. Sound as an ambiguous transformative energy.

It would seem that to deliver sound into a world of appearances is also to give the intangible a name and a face, potentially fixing limits to a realm where there are none. Within vibrations themselves, there are no abrupt boundaries, no distinctive thresholds, only heterogeneous continuities afloat on a flux of becoming, as Raviv Ganchrow[1] writes.

Sound is a non visible but also a physical tangible character of space. Density, mass and physicality are qualities that can induce a material sense of space. It fills space in a holistic manner.

Although, things become more serious and far more complex when we look at the sonic energy in its social and political space. Density, mass and physicality are creating vibrational atmospheres that can become a force of social transformations. It is in this very context where the human body is experiencing a shifting acoustic ecology through the soundscape of modernity. But while the humanities have long investigated the relation of language, literature, and visual culture to the sphere of political economy, the role of sound remains relatively unexplored.

The Contemporary Sonic Thought

It is crucial to say that between these two coexistent tendencies, the attractive and repulsive power of sonic force, the issue is obviously not simply one of good or bad. As Steve Goodman states in his book Sonic Warfare. Sound Affect and the Ecology of Fear , “Rather, their ambivalence indicates some of the emergent features central to the strategies and tactics of control within contemporary capitalism.”[2]

Contemporary performance and theatre hasn’t been untouched by the rapid audio-technological progress and the increased accessibility of it. Sound in recent productions has become more and more subliminal. It creates spaces and opens hyper-sensitized communicating paths between a work and the viewer-listener. We have entered an era of amplification where concepts are constructed to investigate the deployment of sound systems in the modulation of the body affect. In the same book by S. Goodman we explore the rippling shockwaves of these kinds of deployments of sound and their impacts on the way populations feel—not just their individualised, subjective, personal emotions, but more their collective moods or affects. The acoustic violence of vibration and the trembling of temperaments.

 

Modern thought and criticism in the sonic anthropological research field is not necessarily only about amplification but also about our physiological/psychological response to the relation between the audible and the inaudible. The inaudible part of sound mostly activates the sonic conjunction with amodal perception: bass is not just heard but is felt. An ontology of vibrational force delves below a philosophy of sound and the physics of acoustics toward the basic processes of entities affecting other entities. This is the core-process of a contemporary acoustic ecology where threat becomes spectral and the effect becomes autonomous from cause.

Notes:

[1] Raviv Ganchrow, ›Hear and There: Notes on the Materiality of Sound‹, in »Immersed«, OASE #78, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, 2009, p. 72.

[2] Steve Goodman, Sonic Warfare. Sound Affect and the Ecology of Fear,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, p: 11.