zina on Tue, 17 Feb 1998 15:35:06 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> what is "ambient" sound?

In response to Kathy Cleland's piece on 7 February,=20
subject: <nettime> Code Red Review:

I would like to thank Kathy Cleland for writing about this event here and
in RealTime magazine (Australia) and will take the opportunity of being in
a list to respond to her survey of my work.

In the aforementioned piece Cleland wrote:

>Also dealing with themes of surveillance and privacy was Australian-based
>Zina Kaye's "(Humble Under Minded) Psychic Rumble Part 2" which recorded
>and broadcast over the Internet ambient sounds and mutated snatches of
>conversation from the Performance Space gallery.

This raises an interesting question about what is "ambient" sound? Does it
imply sound which is not constructed or fabricated - 'naturally occuring';
or even sound that is 'electronic music' popularised by Brian Eno et al.

In the case of _psychic rumble_ I would say that yes, I did aim to use
ambient sounds, but that they were raw material re-constructed through an
acceleromater measuring the frequency and vibration of the walls of the
Performance Space.  (An acceloromator only acts as a microhpone in that the
walls vibrate and it measures this movement.) Thus measured vibration was
re-frabricated, processed, sold for more etc.
In fact the sound facilitated a kind of super-natural listening, bionic
ears, that could hear beyond the space and tune into airplanes over the
west side of Sydney, dogs in the park and so on, as well as the audience's
response to Marko's work for example.

Finally, below is a transcript of the talk I gave at the Performance Space
for Code Red which outlines my perception of the work. Of course, there is
always another reading: a distinguished gentleman had a listen, smiled
broadly and said that I had made "instant atmosphere" for lonely browsers.

zina K.

_______(humble under minded) psychic rumble______________

I write every day. Something like 100 or maybe a thousand words. I might
keep it, or throw it away. It makes no difference really. Sometime ago I
noticed that the writing had become different, and I tried to figure out
whathad changed. To explain it, i had to formulate some funny maths. My
reasoning went like this:

>There are an infinite combination of words in my head but I carry them
all inside me.
>>If I keep moving a sentence around my lips then at some point it will
find a mirror and just listen to itself for a long time.=20
>>Site specific nonsense is just as useful, if not the same as, a resolved
>>If you listen very hard, you can unpeel what one person is saying to you
and toy with the resulting component parts.
>>I am literally dreaming up a novel, but will attempt to only print one
word at a time.

So I am playing with 'coding up', how words are encoded or decoded and
somehow, through some meta cognitive processes "we believe we understand."
Yes, I believe I understand.

We can code things up to be as difficult to understand as we like, or as
contrived or as eloborate, or as fragrant, or as popular, but ultimately if
you say something, all the delicate shades of it will disappear in the big

The big meaning. The headline or the picture.

But the little words are like ants:
>>	How do you do
>>	I'm reading being and time
>>	The warp drive is running very smoothly thank you.

The big words  yeah THEY take up the most space and we are kind of trained
to go deaf after hearing them.

>>	Di is Dead!
 Wow that's mega words. Sorry, I should apologise for bringing them in
here. It's like being trampled underfoot by a heard of elephants. Yup, they
are big words, huge, these words together just mean too much, and nothing
also. Hey you know that don't you.
But do you know who defined them?

A while back I sat down and wrote thiese words differently. So I was going
to talk about push media and the l+aw of disclaimers and all the things that
are bothering us now. I was going to preface this talk by little words -
legalise - saying something like,
>>"you have actively agreed to come to read this statement and be witness
to me writing. The information I give is your responsibility now so if you
publish anything I say then you are liable for defamation not me"
I hacked that straight out of Hotline

Then I was going to talk about my previous incarnation, as editor of a
magazine in London. It wasn't that exciting, but I suppose that it's the
closest I ever got to rUpert mUrdoch. Somehow I ended up one step away,
talking with a man who had daily conversations with mUrdoch and wrote some
big words with big meanings that were read by thousands and millions of
people. BUT ultimately he also said some small words to me that, a bit
later, I realised had this meaning: "if we could, we would buy the rights
to the phrase 'Di is Dead!"

The mysterious we. rUpert mUrdoch and his (soon to be superceded) Old Boys
Network. The guy that used all the little words peppered with big ones to
make you think that he was telling you about the D lady, but in fact was
just creating his market out of nothing but a safety net of anti words:
smoke and mirrors.

And then there is a crash and you are looking at the documentation of the
But what are you doing here? No really. This is a kind of a problem. What
are you going to say about it, what is your position? What language are you
speaking ? It's important because the boundaries are unclear, this is
international Paris/Sydney/internet afterall! Are you outraged! Crying? And
then all the big words pour out of your mouth like sand. And maybe the
little voice is saying:
>>before I speak I must choose the language in which to be heard most
Maybe by this time it is impossible to hear a word because all big words
are out in tribute to something, , or disucssing it already and you are
contextualising it with language.

So I want to circle my work, the work. There is some equipment, that was
once cold war surveillance stuff, but also belongs to the realm of
structures and the accoustic engineer.
It sits on a window in a space and it broadcasts the conversation that the
building makes with it's environment over the internet via real audio. When
people are around you cannot hear their voices, only the heaviness of their
feet or the lightness of their laugh. This is not a machine for conspiracy

To me it is part of a system, a chain of transient aural messaging. Small
words. You see Airplanes are like big words,  but the elctronics inside
them are like the sea washing over you. Telex machines are like shells,
tapping ears. Alexander Graham Bell carried a severd ear in his pocket
while he was inventing the telephone, the telephone was once thought to be
a device to contact the dead. All these quiet things, bleeping away in the
darkness, vibrational wave forms, the echo of feedback on the line.

I'm giving the you the future now and this is what it sounded like:
An ultra-low rumble, it rattles your brain a bit. There is a lot of space
in it, so maybe you are in outer space looking down at everything so small
and clean and happy. It's your comms link that's noisy. It's passing up and
down and sometimes you can hear something bouncing around ..oh hey, voices.
In the sludge are these pixelated patches of colour. Hot and burning
colour. To me it's the most beautiful sound in the world. I can hardly
articulate how I feel about it. But I've been dreaming about this psychic
rumble for a year now and I finally get to hear my premonition.

Copyright zina k 1997.

Anti-Destination Society
PO Box 950, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia.
world.net/~zina/ (wip)
irational.org/zina/ (wip)

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