I forgot how much I loved cheese. Melted cheese in particular. The copious amounts of lasagne on offer during lunch at the Hōngongo Hui kindly reminded me of its comforting embrace. It wasn’t necessarily the cheese, however, that was solely responsible for the swelling of warmth emanating from within my belly. There was a tangible air of confidence present amongst my peers and I couldn’t help but sense that the atmosphere was noticeably lighter than the previous Hui. Nerves usually got the better of me in these kinds of situations, though today they had dissipated as the morning progressed and I was engrossed in the various presentations of my peer’s creative work. There was a commendable amount of respect, interaction and motivation displayed within each crit and I was able to gleam inspiration and valuable insights from every single conversation. Everyone seemed more relaxed than previous crits, confident in themselves and in their ability to talk about their work. I felt my sentiments reflected in the attitudes of my peers and for the first time all year I no longer felt like an imposter. Before I knew it my crit was over, the day had ended what seemed much too quickly and I was left to unravel my thoughts regarding the discourse that had surrounded my exhibited work.
We had covered a lot of ground during my crit. I half-wished that I had recorded the ensuing conversation to reflect upon but alas here we are with only a page of scantly notated sentences and names. Still, the suggested readings, artists and lectures that were offered have proven to be invaluable. I felt that the nature of my work would undoubtedly surface some complex and potentially sensitive themes and concerns; however I was prepared and willing to engage with them in a conscientious manner while in a safe and honest environment. It was interesting to see the general reactions people had upon hearing Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” compiled vertically and time stretched to play over one year; a duration of nearly 9600 hours and approximately the prison sentence he eluded for a number of misdemeanours and felonies. I would have liked to post the QR code linking audiences members to the site where they can listen in on a number of similar live streamed ‘sonic sentences’ (some spanning over fifteen years), however the processes of rendering, uploading and behind the scenes maintenance is proving tedious. Rest assured, this is a project that I am determined to see finished and I will endeavour to get it up and running over the next few weeks as I realise this is a perfectly suitable platform to spread awareness of it. The process in creating the work is a factor that was brought up and rightfully so. I am very aware of the position of judgement that I am taking on and the numerous moral, ethical and racial issues that will present themselves throughout the journey. I am trying my best to approach this like a jury would approach a particularly difficult case in court; through a collaboration of minds from all walks of life in order to form an unbiased, unprejudiced opinion. I am after a reconsideration of our listening habits, our sonic footprints, through reconciliation and rehabilitation, not an absolute condemnation reminiscent of the ever pervasive ‘cancel culture’. I’ve seen “Death Note”. Twice. I know what happens when a young, self-righteous individual attains the power of God and attempts to use it virtuously, albeit selfishly, to bring into fruition their woefully isolated vision of a new world, a perfect world, complete with fascist ideals and all.
There were a number of topics and concepts that I would have liked to bring up during the crit, though due to time constraints and inadequate pathing on my part we were unable to touch upon them. One of these concepts, pertaining to sound-art and music in general, was the notion of what Seth Kim-Cohen calls a “non-cochlear”; a term Cohen blatantly admits was formed by piggybacking upon Duchamp’s concept of non-retinal art and meant to advocate for an expanded situation of music, similar to that which the practices of painting and sculpture have attained. I have been obsessed with this idea over the past few years, both with its seemingly simple nature yet exciting potential and the discourse surrounding its ambiguity and the contextually critical conversations it sparks. I recommend checking out the exhibition of the same name (Non-Cochlear Sound) that Cohen curated at Diapason Gallery in New York during 2010. Cohen elaborates upon his concept quite resoundingly:
Sound, like everything else (maybe more than everything else), is a product of interaction: stick with skin, wheel with street, wind with grass. Logically, then, sound is also a product of the situations in which these interactions occur. Non-cochlear sound addresses sound as a conceptual, contextual construct. Non-cochlear sound might function in a sound-like fashion without specifically referencing or making sound, it might use sound as a vehicle for transporting ideas or materials from point A to point B, it might even make sound but only as an excuse for initiating other activities. Sound always makes meaning by interacting with other things in proximity: geographic proximity, ideological proximity, philosophical proximity. Non-cochlear sound is nothing more – and nothing less – than the acknowledgement of this reality. If a non-retinal visual art is liberated to ask questions that the eye alone cannot answer, then a non-cochlear sonic art appeals to exigencies out of earshot. But the eye and the ear are not denied or discarded. A conceptual sonic art would necessarily engage both the non-cochlear and the cochlear, and the constituting trace of each in the other.
Ears don’t blink.