Más Arte Más Acción, Idartes’ station CK:WEB, Exploratorio del Parque Explora and EterLab, joined forces to open the call for Presentes Sonoros – Global Soundscapes, that took part in the programming of Auditum – Semana de la Escucha, in Medellín from July 16 to 21, 2019.
“Hearing serves to sanction the present and predict it.”
In the introduction to The Sound Landscape and the Tuning of the Ear (1993), Raymond Murray Schafer shrewdly quotes some verses by Walt Whitman: “Now I will do nothing but listen (…) I hear all the sounds, which run together, combine, / melt, follow one another:/ the sounds of the city and those outside it, the sounds of day and night (…)”. In what were once considered incendiary elegies, the Canadian composer and environmentalist supports his encyclopaedic reflection that deals, basically, with the sounds that matter. And fortunately, this is not a foolish Manichean deliberation, but a questioning of the acoustic matter around us.
This sound environment – but not background noise – as Schafer has called it, is a kind of reverberation – intimate – of the political, social, technological and natural eventualities of the place in which we live. Aren’t you wondering what and why we listen? One of the many possible answers comes to the Spanish essayist Ramón Andrés when he delves into the auditory perception before music: “Hearing, listening, is presentiment, and presentiment leads to thought”.
Modern formalism – with its bundle of technocratic philosophers, stock market poetry and fictions that flicker on liquid screens – has deprived us of acoustic thinking. Today, in the dictatorship of the immediate image, the rituals of listening have been displaced. Right now it is difficult for us to tremble as our parents or grandparents did when they first heard the sounds of cars and planes, or the music that, as a matter of magic, emanated from the rudimentary speakers of a gramophone. Much less do we suspect the primordial astonishment of the first men and women when, exposed to the random sound of nature, they experienced what Andrew has called the “ancient forms of distress,” which may well be either the twilight chatter of birds, the shrill vibration of unveiled insects, the cooing of the river, the hissing sound of the wind, or the crack of thunder.
Tamed and normalized, today the possibility of discerning through the ear has been taken away from us. These are times of sound pollution that take us away from questions about our future.
It remains for us, then, to learn to listen again.
Such an adventure implies wandering and silence. In this way we can be alert and discover those sounds that reveal to us abstract stories or reliable portraits of the “now”. We can be sound architects who endow the noise with beauty, or we can simply let it pass in its crudest and most elemental state. It is imperative to return to the sensitivity of the audible ” (…) to sanction the now and predict it”. It will also be a heritage exercise that hides the extraordinary paradox of radically inventing the past through an acoustic osmosis of the present.
We still have time to prolong a perhaps atavistic illusion: that the sound of the world is not stolen from us.
Luis Daniel Vega
We called on all interested people, artists, musicians, sound designers, noise experimenters to send audio clips based on the idea taken from the text proposed by Luis Daniel Vega: “hearing serves to sanction the now and predict it”. Audios that drew inspiration by and contribute to the reflections raised by this text and that frame this fourth edition of Global Soundscapes.
The received pieces were part of the programme of Auditum – Week of the Listening and were raw material for “Taller Espacio.Sonoro” directed by CK:\WEB in companion of the artists Brian Mackern (Uruguay) and Daniel Gómez (Colombia). This meeting, held in Bogotá, aimed to develop a web interface (online) for mixing, synthesis and sound experimentation in real time.