Sunday, 18. June 2017, 23:03 - 00:00, Ö1



„Soundprints as Memory”
by Colin Black

sound PLAY

Simon Schama in his book Landscape and Memory discusses memory as a projection onto specific locations of the landscape. He argues that in western culture the garden has been conceptualised as a view framed through the cultural habits of humanity. As a consequence of this framing process we overlay mythology and the human imagination on to geographical locales and embody them in memory[1]. Moreover, Pierre Nora in Realms of Memory also conceives of memory as a site or place (Lieux de memoire). He argues that within a community Lieux de memoire (places of memory) have arisen as a replacement for the lived experience of memory. For Nora, modern memory is primarily archival he states, “It relies entirely on the specificity of the trace, the materiality of the vestige, the concreteness of the recording, the visibility of the image”[2].

Soundprints as Memory is also a sonic vestige, a mnemonic, an overlay of “mythology” and human imagination being projected onto the sonic geographical locales melding with and possibly replacing the lived experience of memory of the listener. Through the “electroacoustic perceptual looking glass” of the microphone we visit sites laced with memories; memories of sites beyond the country which many of us may have visited, an overlay of mythology, imagining and memory. As we listen in closer, the work modulates between abstract and non-abstract soundscape, the aim is to reach a point where memories are not projected onto the sonic locations but somehow they seem to entwine with the locations. In this sense, the work challenges the listener to ponder if these sonic memory sites are somehow energised by the past or if they are a projection from the frame of humanity in the present, or even false memories that evolved out of only dreaming of this place as the work becomes increasingly stratified and memories begin to merge together?

Throughout the live performance of Soundprints as Memory the artist will draw “travel lines” on a map. So, if the new sound location is more East than the last then the audience will hear the pen sound move from left to right speaker (and vice versa). These drawn lines will not join the actual locations as they appear on the map, but are sonic signposts for the listener or minimal directional cues. Moreover, this mapping component doesn’t map physical space and location but rather how the mind distorts distance, where the essence is still there but the detail is lost in the memory that fades over time.

Photos from the various locations will be shuffled like a deck of cards and used to generate the sequence of locations that will be triggered and sometimes filtered (to an abstract level [a metaphor for how memories change and evolve over time]) on the computer. Memories are not chronological, so the locations heard are not chronological but are mixed from one remembrance to another or one place and time to another. Interpolating these location recordings will be short reflections from various locations alongside some of the prices and details of various hotels and travel fares using the computer’s voice.

After the photo has been shuffled and selected, the artist will then paste it into a travel diary alongside which he will make notes and doddle. The travel dairy and map will serve as documentation, a new artwork and a musical score or event score to retrace the same sonic journey or memory line. 


[1] Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory. (London: HarperCollins, 1995).
[2] Pierre Nora, Realms of Memory, The Construction of The French Past. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 8.

In cooperation with Stromschiene der Alten Schmiede Wien::