For the past three consecutive years MA Sound Arts students at LCC have been asked to make a piece of work in response to the Her Noise Archive. This has been the first project set in their one year course. It is a practice based research project where the expectation is that they carry out a scholarly investigation of aspects of the archive, which might include feminism, gender and sound arts, queer theories, the nature of the archive, masculine studies, DIY arts and music practices etc. and to produce an artwork that is influenced and fed by that research. Some of that work is collected here. More information is available here.
The Folding Map
The Folding Map explores the cultural and geographical assumptions in the assembling of the Her Noise Map and problems and possibilities they create. The map is referred to as ‘a momentary snapshot of a pulsating labyrinth of women in sonic experimentation’. This ‘snapshot’ centres itself around the US, the UK and Germany. This in itself isn’t prejudicial or erroneous but accentuates the map as a starting point. A question then arises as to what happens next.
Three female sound artists Hildegard Von Bingen, Sofia Gubaidulina and Elizabeth Cotten were chosen from the map for their ‘outsiderness’ within the map, in terms of milieu, musical style and race.
Initially the work hoped to point to artists geographically and culturally outside the map but certain contradictions made themselves evident around the notion of ‘expanding’ the map. Expansion seemed to connote a certain colonial imposition on the evolution of the map. To move away from this ‘expansion’ a converse movement was chosen, that of folding in.
The work explores the act of folding the map and the possible effects this has.
www.feministhypnosis.com (website no longer active)
website + audio: duration 04:39
Instructions for how to share www.feministhypnosis.com
- Gather a group of friends, colleagues or even strangers. They can be from either sex or anything in between, just make sure they’re unsure of feminism.
- Have everyone download the hypnosis from www.feministhypnosis.com to play back on their own device – they’ll need a pair of headphones too.
- Sit together in a darkened, but not completely dark, space.
- Read the website aloud, focusing on the section ‘Is it for You’. This will relieve anxiety and apprehension (although not completely) towards the hypnosis.
- Play the hypnosis simultaneously.
- Await a subtle, gradual, collective transformation.
Women in Sound Arts: Travel Kit
In response to the Her Noise Archive I have complied an assemblage with elements of my research on women in sound arts. I used books, zines, magazines, audio tapes or personal items as hardware objects to build a mobile archive (Appendix A). I decided to use the access that is offered by the approach of infokiosques: objects are free to touch, hear, they connect to each other. The Her Noise Archive is composed of many punk records and zines but it is ironic that these materials are taken care of in a way that considers that these objects should be protected from destruction, as if they need to be indestructible. Through use the pages of books will be damaged, records scratched and items lost. The Women in Sound Arts: Travel Kit takes the archive out of its temperature controlled room and unpacks the documents from their boxes, takes away the shelves and enables the use of the materials for artworks, exhibitions and participatory spaces. I recycled two second hand suitcases to play with the idea of a travel kit to which I added some wooden pieces, found on the street, which are shaped like books. I incorporated a usb stick that contains the materials of my research into the wooden pieces : videos, movies, audio, podcasts, books, web articles and all my internet research. My intention is to share my research and to create an open source mobile archive. The key artists and writers of my research are: Martha Rosler, Emma Hedditch, Sanja Ivekovic, bell hooks and Maryanne Amacher.
Her Noise Archive: Symbol of Democracy or Communist Uprising?
Her Noise Archive: Symbol of Democracy or Communist Uprising? considers the distinction between what constitutes political criticism and rebellion within sound arts practice. It is a sardonic observation of the ambivalent political voice of the Her Noise Archive which serves equally as a democratic symbol of equality and, simultaneously, as an uprising against the false utopia of democracy. By presenting both truths side-by-side the stark similarities between these two viewpoints are made apparent and it’s political fragility laid bare. An archive may be created democratically but it can easily become bound to an authoritarian existence by those who control its access, changing its political locale overnight.
Her Noise Archive: Symbol of Democracy or Communist Uprising? extends beyond critique of the Her Noise Archive and passes question upon political party structures and the fine line between one party’s politics and another. Applying the same structure and techniques of manipulating rhythm, pitch and repetition I explore the possibilities of speech as a political tool within the arts.
How to Archive a Single Work
The Artwork You Are Listening To
How To Archive a Single Work is an archivisation of itself: a hand-made ‘book’ containing typography, images, and sound triggered by recordable greetings card modules. The work arose from considering the personal implications on the artist’s practice of the Her Noise themes of gender construction and identity politics, specifically in the context of Cathy Lane’s paper, “A suitable job for a woman?” [Lane, C. (2009) CLIP/CETL research report. London.]. From this spun a deliberate intention to embrace stereotypical dichotomous gender constructions antithetic to those of the artist, rejecting ‘masculine’ preoccupations with technology in favour of ‘feminine’ DIY methodologies, and embracing ‘feminine’ ‘messy’ (over ‘masculine’ ‘ordered’) aesthetics.
The artist’s initial response, The artwork you are listening to, was a satirically written self-critique, purporting to be a superlative response to Her Noise, read out by a computer Text2Speech program. This text was ‘misarchived’ through iterative distortions using speech and translation software, then ‘cut-up’ by hand to create the book’s typography. By selecting accompanying images and audio through crude thematic association to the text, the book elicits hyperbolic representational readings of itself, highlighting the complex gendered cultural construction, and ergo the ‘insubstantiality of the artist’s (and the artwork’s) autonomous identity’.
The DIY/LoFi aesthetic of the film was a response to the low budget films made to document the Her Noise exhibition and the videos contained in the Her Noise Archive. This idea was carried through to the shooting and editing of the film and especially the sound track.
An improvised, unscripted documentary format was chosen as a method of affording a male character to research and present his ideas about the particularly delicate subject of pornography and for him to raise questions and to express concerns and highlight conflicting opinions about the compatibility of pornography and art today.
“If I can’t respond to this bloody thing, then the least I can do is have sex with it” involved contaminating the archive with an unrelated artifact: a recording of myself singing Philip Larkin’s “Naturally the Foundation will Bear Your Expenses” to the melody of the National Anthem “God Save the Queen”.
This intervention was an opportunity to reestablish action in the face of indecision, after being asked to respond to an alien archive. Furthermore, it was a playful means of demonstrating the need for intentionality, clarity and specialization, by tainting the usefulness of the archive as a research tool through the inclusion of absurd material.
The Moment of Now
After interacting with the Her Noise Archive at the London College of Communication I became fascinated with the roll archives play in our personal lives. Particularly I focused upon my own collections of photographs, audio recordings, old tapes and records and pondered how these related to memory and the archive of the mind.
It struck me that although we can only live in the present, without memory, this ‘moment of now’ would be meaningless. Yet memory also creates for us the possibility of sadness and melancholy. Time is an ever evolving narrative from which we try to grab snapshots to help us map our past. Sometimes though, we become obsessed with yesterday and forget about today.
Her Master’s Voice – His Mistress’s Voice
This performance video utilizes a text piece by Guerrilla Girls (1988) entitled ‘The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist’, and an old 78rpm record, ‘Never Trust a Woman’ by Phil Harris and his Orchestra, circa 1940’s. The combination of these appropriated ‘works’ is of course a response to the gender-specific questions that the Her Noise Archive highlights concerning contemporary music and sound art practice.
This was originally intended as a ‘throwaway’ performative element of a work in progress presentation, I later decided to re-enact the performance to create a video version. Various cinematic devices have been put into practice in the adaption of the performance into a filmic form, multiple takes, allowing for different point of view editing, close-ups, jump cuts, and over dubbing. This questioning of authenticity again makes reference to the transitory nature of both sound and performance, and the fundamental quandary when preserving performative works.
Othering the Archive
This performance using bespoke ‘sounding-boxes’ engages critically with archival practice per se, in particular the inherent problems of archiving ‘live’ works. This fugitive act was not initially intended to be preserved or recorded, although for academic purposes some form of documentation was unavoidable.
It examines notions of the archive as an ideologically charged space, its function in preservation, conservation, and fetishisation, and its role in the creation and perpetuation of memory. To use a museological analogy, if the contents of Her Noise are the artefacts and specimens, then the archive and host institution is the vitrine. It is the construction of, and access to this vitrine that I particularly wanted to examine.
Untitled (silences and hesitations)
Performance: Anna Raimondo
Video editing: Camila Mello
Sound recording: Andrej Bako
When I presented “La regla de la mùsica”, a radio show examining music and feminism(s), I conducted interviews with female composers and musicians. Often, when asked about female influences, these women would hesitate to answer. I used these silences and hesitations as the source material for a piece. I rendered it on cassette-tape and played it back to people in public spaces. Silence, over the language and its structure, could question or resist the dualism between genders. These particular silences musically empower the sounds of the environment and conceptually emphasise the hesitations of the official historiography to include women in musical canons.