Sonic Realism / Wave #2 September 2020

Editor's note #2

According to an article published in the Guardian on July 23rd, we are experiencing an unprecedented wave of silence. With Covid-19, factories have closed, roads have emptied and metropolises have abruptly shifted from frenetic movement to quiet solitude. This wave of silence can be seen flowing from Asia to the Americas – a dramatic change in the earth’s sonic landscape. What remains untold is what type of silence we are talking about. Silence is not the absence of sound, but a different fluctuation of it, inextricably entwined with the act of listening. What emerged with Covid-19 was the audibility and the registering of a vibration that was previously blurred by the schizophrenic sound of modern life; the obtuse jumble of sound. Suddenly, the registers of temblors that were undetectable became possible. These weren’t new sounds emerging, what changed was our sonic kinship with the planet.

Since we launched Infrasonica, much has changed. People are suffering the consequences of decades of neoliberal economic reforms that have fractured the public infrastructure. Social movements have called for a reimagining of society and life – one that maintains meaningfulness with, and despite, digital anxiety. How can we articulate forms of social encounter, exploring strategies of actualization amid social unrest, the devastation of the planet and the colossal failure of liberal politics? We are witnessing a world that dialectically falls apart and emerges, revealing what was hidden. The wave of silence emerging with the pandemic then posits new questions regarding our ability to hear and to feel in a non-colonial register. Beyond the frenzied noise of the modern world, ancestrality and the sounds emerging from indigenous vibrations might be announcing something that was previously too hard to hear.

For Infrasonica’s first year, we are working under the editorial line of Sonic Realism. We are keen to contribute to a debate around non-colonial sounds, looking with suspicion at the discourses that aim to erase the traces of its colonial and racial configuration. In this way, we propose an understanding of the materiality of sound, emerging from the fractures of modern subjectivity.

For Wave #2 we are proud to publish the work of a major avant-garde composer, artist, and intellectual, Joaquin Orellana. His life is a testimony of a longstanding commitment to the exploration of sound and music from the perspective of pre-Columbian aesthetics and its entanglement with avant-garde music. Orellana’s world is populated by haunting tonalities, odd semantics, pirate complex orchestra compositions, and a lifelong search to capture the sounds that emerge from the cracks in a city´s concrete. Third world aesthetics are techno-poetic configurations of indigenous and mestizo non-colonial ontologies. The concert was produced and presented at La Nueva Fabrica in 2019 before it was brought to Infrasonica’s digital matrix.

Tyler Coburn articulates an intimate voice that refers us to seminal questions that more than ever seem crucial for our survival as a species. His piece is a reinterpretation of a 2016 performance, originally presented in Hong Kong. Coburn gave it new life amid the pandemic, asking each listener for empathy, interpersonal vibrations and resonance in a world where all that remains from the other is a fading voice emerging from the digital pulses of technology. What results is a message in a bottle; a sensual attempt to encounter one another and a litmus test for our ability to reimagine social interaction.

How Does Freedom Sound? is the titular question of Yang Yeung’s contribution. She responds by examining the cross-fertilizing actions of the 2019 social movements in Hong Kong, highlighting the ways artists engaged with the protests through practices based on sound and active listening. Yeung, taking inspiration from Hannah Arendt, aims at the revindication of two dimensions of human social existence: inner and outer freedom. In a carefully crafted text, Yeung looks at this practice from the perspective of someone who has both engaged in longstanding conversations with those very artists, and taken part in the protests.

Pablo José Ramírez discusses critical notions of sound in relation to the understanding of indigeneity and curatorial practice with curator, writer and researcher Candice Hopkins. The conversation was presented live in coordination with Independent Curators International (ICI) and is presented here as a podcast. In the conversation, Hopkins engages with key issues around her curatorial work while developing critical ideas around sound as a core and complex component of indigenous art practices.

We are thrilled to present the haunting sound of the Dominican-American Dj and writer, Kelman Duran, whose post-perreo sound esthetics are pushed into a ghostly realm where ambient elements encounter sharp urban sounds. His work breaks apart stereotypes commonly associated with perreo music while constructing the possibility of a political imprint emerging from popular and experimental culture.

We hope you enjoy this as much as we have enjoyed working on it. Amid the quiet, we encourage you to make time for active listening.

00:00 00:00