A variation of a popular saying goes “Si el río suena, es porque piedras lleva,” conceding rumor mills as a valid source of knowledge. If many people speak about the same thing with a minimal consensus, there must be an underlying truth to be discovered. Rumors are the encounter of sonic energy and social language.
The entanglement of knowledge and sound is to be understood from within the intimacy of situated collectivities and their relation to the audible. Sound is mediated, translated and negotiated collectively from where systems of non-Western knowledge take shape. The river groans because its materiality is in friction with the world.
Audible Matter, the title of our second Current, aims to think about the conjuncture of soundings and knowing-the-world through an audible experience. Contrary to a reduction of sound to cognitive human processes, we take inspiration in the anthropologist Steven Feld’s work on Acoustemology, considering situated knowledge and social systems that act with the world, and whose knowledge is based in collective memory, anti-colonial resistance and non-human kinship. The notion of knowledge is activated through the de-substantialization of sound, acting as ontological relationality, a sound that is simultaneously situated and fugitive and exists always in relation to others.
With our next set of Waves, we will respond to questions such as: How is sound mediated and translated? How does it shape indigenous epistemologies in tandem with the non-human world? How does the audible engage with the enigmas of silence and infrasonic registers of sound? Where do culture and the materiality of sound find each other? How do the sounds of trans-Atlantic waves pummeling stones into sand build upon a philosophical and existential experience?
We are beginning our exploration of Audible Matter by focusing on these types of questions. Our Wave #4 features sound artists, experimental composers, filmmakers, writers, musicians, scholars and artists.