Sonic Realism / Wave #3 Sound January 2021

Transductions and Surlógicas

Nicole L’Huillier & José Pérez de Arce

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The multidisciplinary artist and researcher Nicole L’Huillier explores ideas associated with sound and musical composition in a non-colonial register. L’Huillier proposes a political grimoire where conceptual frameworks open portals for conversations about the relationship of sound with indigenous Deep Time and the paradoxes of coloniality emerging from the creation of contaminated sounds. As a resonant companion for her conversation with the musical archaeologist José Pérez de Arce, the improvisational collaboration with Pérez de Arce, Francisca Gili, Claudio Mercado Muñoz and AnaRosa Ibañez invites the listener to consider a logic emanating from the global South.


Nicole L’Huillier

I’m interested in sound as something that activates collective, hybrid, and resonant processes. Where humans and other entities dialogue, they open non-lineal sonorous spaces and explore the potentiality of sound outside of the musical. I’m also interested in sound as an extended temporality and access to other dimensions through trance. What can we learn from paying attention to sound as another space of wisdom and beauty outside of the Western canon? What does it mean for you to think from a southern logic, a Surlógica? What elements of sound dialogues from the South can help us to structure this concept?

José Pérez de Arce

From my experience as a music archaeologist, I believe there are two surlógicas. One that existed before Columbus, in which everything followed a self-coherent, self-powered logic in continuous ecological change according to its own parameters, like everything in nature; and another that emerged afterward, when things collided that had never collided before, and which produced a power imbalance that tried to push this primordial logic towards disappearance. Today we are witnessing the agony of this madness, the emergence of those balances of a new surlógica. Instead of fighting for survival, the heritage of this vernacular logic finds its balance, its mixture, its ch’ixi, its coexistence, its transformation and sublimation. Sound has always formulated this dialogue-encounter, from the birds and the winds, from motors and inventions, from guitars and flutes. This sound transit is less violent than the transit of the logics of power that have taxed a logic of “for reason or force” as a political lock to our thinking. Sounds circulate more freely, they move through parties, drunkenness, encounters, oftentimes meeting oblivious to that logic of power. That is, precisely, its power.



Transduction is a concept of the comings and goings, of the signal that is transformed when crossing/combining media to remain valid. This concept can help us to build a discourse from the South with the complexities and contradictions that involve understanding ourselves amidst processes that oscillate between the modern and the ancient. Like being mestizo and living between places and realities, always in transduction, in transformation and in constant transit. How do we position ourselves as mestizos in respectful and anticolonial dialogue with ancestral knowledge and pre-Hispanic technologies? Do you think the concept of transduction can help us navigate our state of living between places and temporalities? In today’s times of cultural transformation and redefinitions, can transductions teach us to recalibrate our alliances with otherness? Perhaps it can permit us to reinforce networks that have broken with dichotomies and categorizations of modernity?


Transduction, I would say, is a new dress for what has always been spoken about. First, it was mestizaje that tried to view globalization with the dissolution of ours in modernity, and later the reaction of champurria, of ch’ixi, of kiltro, of chimuchina, that mix without mixing, that pile up without classifying, that add and distribute through unimaginable modes, that accumulate contradictions as the norm. Everything depends on how you understand transduction. If it encompasses all these contradictions, it’s a new dress for many things; if you understand it only as coming and going, it is a new dress for what has always occurred; but transduction has wanted only to be seen as a coming, not as a going.



Do you think sound is an element of mediation between the material and immaterial world?I'd like you to tell me a bit more about your processes of trance and altered states of conscience through repetition and the saturation of the frequency spectrum. Could we learn from those models to imagine transformative shapes/forms of polyphonic coexistence and dialogues for a more hybrid, dynamic and collective future?


The "altered state" could be seen as the "natural state" with which we reverse the problem. That's how many shamans view it and how I see it when I play with my grandchildren (before they become adults). That inversion also alters your question; maybe sound helps us penetrate in strokes of that reality what we've lost "from sight" (how absurd) and it returns us to connect with the primordial, before we were humans, even before we were living beings. But as we are complex, my perception of this state is very personal, non-transferable, and at the same time it's the best expression of the current me, an individual connected to the universe. At the end of the day, for us, urban, disconnected, self-absorbed, "the altered states of consciousness" often confront us with the abysmal reality in which they are part of a whole, and for us, that abysmal wonder is enough. That double "function" of that state is the most real: on the one hand, it universalizes, or, better said, diversifies that experience towards the rest of existence. On the other hand, it empowers the center-me as the only possible transductor.



From transduction, mestizaje and the logics of the South, do you have any final thoughts on our improvisation?


I think our improvisation is part of a process that is occurring in society, which allows for new forms of communication to come and go. Not from the logical platform (coming and going of news or speeches), but coming and going instantly, through intuitions that are faster and more accurate than logic.

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