Voicing Abstraction / Wave #9 SOUND October 2023

I want to know you by touch (mars quakes) | A voice over for Fireflies

Ella Finer & Amy Cutler

It is cold now, September is always ambivalent, it’s also very bright in a way that feels like surveillance by weather, and I am listening to marsquakes when you send the film of fireflies in the night. The sound and image did not belong together before this moment, but here in this confusing month where warm air meets cool, they have found each other and because I am thinking of how we find each other, how we find company through correspondences of all kinds, because I am thinking about love, the rocks smashing into Mars and the glowing tracks of fireflies make fast friends, they help describe each other in ways only they distinctly can. They open up and expand the possibilities for the other. Isn’t this love?

And don’t we do this too, with each other, revealing parts of ourselves we couldn’t have known without another providing the key, the charm, the faith to find out things unknown to us. We might attempt to do this in words, and send our figuring of the other in lines we know can’t hold enough of what we feel, or, in lines that hold too much. Or the revelation may be unspoken, just happening. A voice on the radio says awe is a mix of vastness and accomodation.

Did you see the moon, smudged into the sky?
I missed the moon but heard the rain.

You tell me about a new anniversary, the irreversible toxicity of rainwater. The rain that holds too much. And I look at your fireflies and for so long think how exacting they are in their commitment to shooting like arrows to the ground. Until I realise these are lines of luminous rain, falling beaded light in the black hold of the night. The rain and the fireflies both catch the light, it is their movement giving them away. But I will always see the rain as fireflies now, giving in to gravity, and the fireflies as errant rain, as lines very alive. A trick of the light, or, what I was willing, or wanting, to believe.

I keep watching, with the sound of the meteorite crashing into mars an impact in memory. And here I would like to hold my thinking of response and responsibility, together, in one breath, in a beat, to try and describe something about love as response. So often so fast: I love it, love lassos the object of affection, of desire, of wonder, pulls it closer, and then what is the lover's responsibility to the object after? I love the fireflies in the night, with rain. I told you that, and wrote, isn't it strange when you love something so much you feel you have a stake in it? Maybe not so strange after all to care for something we have fierce feeling for, but I am talking about something slightly different. I started making a soundtrack for the film in response, drawn to have a stake in its creative life, desiring to be closer, drawn to bring the marsquakes to the night scene, but when listening to the raw audio accompanying the footage, I heard you.

There is something very tender about hearing the field recorder, the body in the landscape documenting their own quiet pursuit to make space for the object of attention. We are at stake in each other's company. And I want to know you by touch, by the sound of rain, fireflies, the acoustic traces of a body out of shot. A love, then, that holds the marsquakes, this sound that describes the volatile effects of entering another object's atmosphere. A love, then, that holds the marsquakes shaking at the edges.


I want to know you by touch (mars quakes) is a voice over, written by Ella Finer for Amy Cutler’s Fireflies. First presented as part of their exhibition Experiments in Company at Kelder, London, 2022. Fireflies was recorded at Pen ar Ran uranium mine at 4 a.m. low tide. It is an extract from Take Warning Rain, a larger series of audiovisual fieldtrips exploring the fate of rainwater and pathetic fallacy in the Anthropocene.

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