From Nancy’s Listening

December 20, 2007 at 12:08 | Posted in communicative media, Musings, On Sound, sonic, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I’m Listening to Panda Bear’s album Person Pitch while I’m writing this. Attempting to qualify and quantify existential phenomena has not been very hip in my head lately. Until recently most of my ‘philosophical inquiry’ has revolved around trying to understand the world–not necessarily to rationalize, but just to find some way to be able to be ok with the seeming madness and “harmony of overwhelming and collective murder,” that proliferates infinitely (the quote is Herzog, from The Burden of Dreams).

In the past year my preoccupation with the unsolvable, and merely acquaintable, existential phenomena of life has shifted into a preoccupation with the sonic, and the act of listening. So far, this is what I’ve gleened/come up with:
I use the word sonic to refer to the empirical and objective–that which is without the attention of cognition. There are sonic events, which become sounds after they are perceived. And, there are sonic environments in which we move, live, and perform. Hearing is the cognitive performance through which we add significance–in a strictly cultural, that is inter- or intra-personal manner–to sonic events, thus transforming them into sound. Hearing is always a reduction, so that sound in consciousness is sensually inferior to the sonic event int he sonic environment. I’ve coem this conclusion in ;arge part through the influence of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, particularly a passage in which he says something to the effect of “The creation of an object in consciousness is always at the cost of the destruction of that object.” I like his view on phenomenology, particularly the idea that we–we being humans–exist as a fold between cognition and the empirical; the world is an “infinite horizon of sensation” (also MMP’s language) and when we interface with that horizon we assemble our rendition of the world, and become agents within it.
I’ve strayed formt he point a bit, but the point was never articulated, or priveleged, so I’ve arrived perfectly. So, here I arrive at the event that the title premised, and here that event will crystalize until some server space somewhere crashes. From Jean Luc-Nancy’s Listening translated by Charlotte Mandell:

“Music is the art of hope for resonance: a sense that does not make sense except because of its resounding in itself.”


Brief excerpt from the midst of a paper:

December 16, 2006 at 15:40 | Posted in communicative media, Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Process oriented explanations, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

Our conception of the sonic is a phenomenological feedback event, while our perception, as an event, is equally a perception of our own materiality and the materiality of the sonic. The conception of the auditized sonic always leads to its interface with usefulness, while the perception of the sonic always leads to either quantification or qualification. Perception is cartography of the self (both collective and singular, physical and metaphysical), and the space around the self. Perception is not a document of what exists; it is an event. Perception is the construction of what exists in terms of potentialities of usefulness; the perceived is of usefulness, and the unperceived is not. It could be said that perception leads to conception, but such a statement would not be true, only mythic.

Metaphorical existentialism, or Existential metaphoricalism:

November 14, 2006 at 16:54 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | 2 Comments

So, I’m applying to PhD programs–this is nothing new. I have two different prjects that I’m proposing, because I’m applying to two different programs. Both of my projects excite me, but both involve different kinds of work. The project that I am proposing for Performance Studies involves the way that bodies are formed and performed. The project for Musical programs involves phonography, its cultural feedback, and its interrelation with phenomenology.

My body project is the equivalent of moving a mountain.

My phonography project s the equivalent of travelling amidst the space outside of Earth.

These metaphors describe the ways that I interact with the work required for the projects.

Like whoa…

November 11, 2006 at 06:23 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment


My colleague Chris Tabron has a new blog: .::Light Matter::. where he posts photos.


I saw Sekou Sundiata’s the 51st (dream) State earlier this evening at BAM’s Howard Gillman Opera House. New York: you should be there tomorrow and/or Sunday. As you probably know most everything passes through John Cage before it gets to me, so my criticism is usually related to issues of overbearing narrative/message, decisions in production that seek to preserve/achieve meaning that wind up being reductive in regards to meaning’s potentiality to traverse the space between intention and reception, and other such audience-oriented heuristics. Sundiata is an overhwhelming exception to my redundant critiques, and a welcome one for me. He manages to present a context rife with implications of political critique, yet not born out of a desire to instill those critiques; his performance is fundamentally imbued with poetry, yet fails to access the format’s most tired breaths; he sets up a fecund bed in which the audience may rest their minds, and simply goes to work quietly in the corners: the corners of the space in such a way that the work never imposes (neither on the audience or any part within itself), and the corners of our minds in such a way that the work remains tangential and fragmented enough that it only hints at possible realms of thought, it never asks us to step into them. Over the course of the performance I was engaged mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spatially. Half-way through I felt that I should do productive things when the time to leave would arrive; I came home and thoroughly cleaned a salvaged step ladder. It’s refreshing to be involved in something that can become a state of exception within the structures that mire me in life; thank you Mr. Sundiata and company.


I have a performance coming up on December 12th at Tisch (721 Broadway) room 636 from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM. The performance will be the premiere of Music High for Bouncing Balls–a work that I began conceptualizing at some point in the summer. There will be ten performers including myself–five women and five men (these people as of right now): Zachary Moldof, Christopher Tabron, Daniel Coeyman, Sarah Lasry, Montzerrat Contreras Robles, Maria Amelia Franchignoni, (possibly) Biba Bell, and (possibly) Amalia Cordova. I still need two more male performers, and (possibly) two more female performers; holler at your boy. The composition will not be rehearsed before the performance; the performers will alternate between bouncing balls, and reading texts; time brackets, and dynamic parameters will be used. I am hoping to render a composition that is simple enough to not require specialized knowledge in order to be read, and does not have to be rehearsed ahead of time because it seems like a useful way to approach a compositional practice that grows out of an understanding of sound that privileges indeterminacy and the unaccountability of temperospatial multiplicity.

Two Photos from Saturday…

October 30, 2006 at 04:07 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I am doing a project in my musical ethnography course that looks towards the human event of hearing in hopes of uncovering some insights into the trace of a phenomenological interface with unmediated sound. By taking various instances of aurality and combining them into a single signifying matrix I hope to render some sort of artifact that can provide a mimetic conceptualization of unmediated sound; it’s paradoxical, but it’s fun. Friday morning Chris Tabron and I went out to do some field recordings. Here are some photos from then.

Performative of what though?

October 25, 2006 at 04:28 | Posted in Grad school update, new york, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I continue to work on/develop/think about body theories. School has been a bit slow the last week or two. My musical ethnography class hit a bit of a lull as our equpiment order has been sitting in limbo, and my Affect Terror Biopolitics class has been difficult for me to navigate. I feel like the discussion in class often focuses solely on the shortcomings of the texts that we read, and that conversation rarely revolves around points of dispersion, or integration. I don’t know why this is such a difficult thing for me to get over because I seem to spend so much time lately talking shit about my peers, but nonetheless I don’t think too fondly of my own digressions either.

It’s starting to get cold here in New York. For the first time in eight years I haven’t been sleeping well–it’s strange. I rarely sleep through the night, and if I do I don’t wake up feeling rested.

I took some splendid field recordings at the Southside Seaport last Friday night with Chris Tabron. We wound up with some great sounds. Of specific fascination to me were recordings of a footbridge (about forty feet in length) going from a dock to a boat. The bridge had wheels at its dockside base, and beneath the wheels was a large metal plate. As the boat shifted in the port’s water the footbridge moved back and forth slightly on the metal plate producing a massive squeaking sound; unique. I also got some great sounds by placing stereo contact mics on one of the steel support beams for the FDR overpass.

I met with Richard Shcechner today to talk about my bodily theories and he brought up some interesting points about genetics that I hadn’t thought of. I also met with Jason Stanyek today in order to discuss some concerns about my project for musical ethnography. I had originally planned to do an audio documentray on skateboarding, but scrapped that idea when I hurt my foot. My new project involves field recordings from all over New York edited together in a way that attempts a mimetic performance of New York’s unmediated sonic body. This project mimics my Body project as it is predicated on the notion that the individuated body exists only in its occupation of multiple parts of a larger whole. Individuated aurality takes place as individuated bodies accumulate a method for navigating collective aurality by focusing on certain sounds, frequencies, rhythms, et cetera, and then codifying these facets into a map that is continually transposed onto the immediate aural geography. My concern was that the project may not be focused enough and I may wind up with nothing but a mess on my hands. Jason suggested that instead of simply going out and recording, that I speak to some people about their notion of sonic New York, record the conversations, record their versions of sonic New York, and then edit the whole thing together. Such amazing advice. The dilemma of my aesthetic process is that in order to conceptualize a methodology I identify and occupy the polar opposite of anything that can be empathized with. In most cases my efforts work, but in this case the human identity provides a crucial aspect in the produciton of aurality, and thus must be integrated rather than expelled. Jason’s response was enlightening because he saw my concerns when I couldn’t.

I got a new job at Arium tea lounge. The job is great. I love being around tea, and people drinking tea.

And on and on…

October 3, 2006 at 17:24 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to John Cage | 2 Comments

My contributions to this blog have been less than regular of late.

I recently moved into a studio apartment hwere I live by myself; the kitchen is clean, and so is the bathroom. they will stay this way.

My last performance as interesting to say the least. I have discussed it with a few people of late so I think I have an adequate perspective on it.
This was the performance:I had a sneaker. Inside of the sneaker was an ipod shuffle that was playing my latest composition, Not my Brilliance., and a stereo contact mic. The ipod was connected to a set of headphones, and the mics went to a PA. I had a small sign that gave the title of the performance and asked audience member to use the headphones. I was drawing on the sneakers. Most people did not realize that I was performing, many people performed while I performed, and music was played through the PA while I performed. While all of this was difficult for the normatized conception of artist/performer that resides somewhere within me, it was at the same time quite enjoyable. My performances have gradually transformed from a situation where I present a supposedly captive audience with an emobdied artifact/ideology, to situations where I am making equal demands on both myseld and the audience to access the performance. By access I mean that the performances I have created of late do not neccesarily contain any agency tha allows them to becomes spectacle, or even rise to the din of their setting; I have essentially located myself/myperformance within a quiet ontology. The performance becomes challenging for me because I ahve to deal with the fact that no one realizes that it’s going on, and people are even sitting on/standing on portions of it.
Today I spoke with Nelson Hallonquist about this notion of a quiet ontology and he pointed out one common aspect of performance that has always disturbed me: the congratulatory audience. As Mr. hallonquist so deftly pointed out, a quiet ontology provides agency against congratulatory practices, which is a relief, and in some sense a goal.
I will be performing the second half of this work next month, however this time–after Shimpei Takeda–I will add a live feed of the illustration to a big-screen television. I am not entirely sure how this will affect the perceptibility of my performance, but I look forward to it.

Selling beer is a job that I have.

Holler at your boy.

Performance on Thursday night:

September 27, 2006 at 04:07 | Posted in Documentation of things, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

What you will read below–after this paragraph–is the logistical
information for a
performance that I will be taking part in Thursday night. I will be
performing a new work titled, (I don’t know how to set italics in
gmail) Years Later Starfish Meeting Room: How to Meet One’s Self. This
is what my performance will be: a singular solo that is simultaneously
private and public. I will provide my latest composition–(the italics
issue again) Not My Brilliance–for individuted private listening, and
I will present a pre-parametered improvisation for an audience of
unregulated proportions. The interface of the two performances will
provide a visual event. There are three other performers presenting on
the same night. I hope to see you there.

thur september 28, 2006
8 – 11pm

free drinks from the FREE BAR
free shopping at the FREE BOUTIQUE

The Event Center
257 Nostrand at Lafayette

G train to Bedford/Nostrand
Nostrand/Lafayette exit

these people:
Felicia Ballos
Biba Bell
Laurie Berg and Amanda Stevenson
Jonah Boaker
Megan Byrne
Errin Delperdang
Nancy Garcia
Chase Granoff
David Hurwith
Isabel Lewis
Melanie Maar
Hedia Maron
Zachary Moldof
Rebecca for Serrell
Larissa Velez
Treva Wurmfield
and some others……..

the second set will be comprised of the representatives of the above people.

admission: contribution to the FREE BOUTIQUE/FREE BAR
such as: dvds, trophies, paintings, books, clothes, lipstick,
absinthe, water, soda pop, wine, whiskey

A Melange of sorts:

September 2, 2006 at 01:13 | Posted in Beer, communicative media, Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to John Cage | 2 Comments

Next week I will be participating in a reading of John Cage’s works at St. Mark’s Church (10th and 2nd Ave.) that commemorates his birthday. It starts at 7:30.

I was thinking about our binary notions of structure yesterday, and came to a realization regarding the notion of deconstruction. I feel that deconstruction is often viewed as an alternative to the reification of structure, however this needn’t be the case; we are better off to engage both reification and deconstruction intermittently: reification maintains structure, while deconstruction subverts structural hegemony.

I have had a lengthy email exchange with some people from the listserve over the past week, and some interesting topics have come up. Primarily we have discussed the implication of structure in the practice of phonography, but we’ve also gotten into a lot of the tangential critical theory that goes along with it. My main concern is the enunciation of a proper paradigmatic structure for the medium. What I really wanted to get at here though was a comment that was made in reghards to simulacra; someone mentioned that when we cannot garner a proper message from a simulacrum we assume that something is wrong with the medium or the person who used the medium to create the simulacrum. This seems like a vital concept when we consider the notions of reification and deconstruction within structurality, as deconstruction often fondles the methods for creating meaning through simulacra–by fondle I mean that it investigates it in such a way that it is looking to uncover the limits of its potentialities and formulate a clear assessment of current occupations through various methods of ‘appropriate’ and inappropriate engagement .

I’m still trying to sell my tabla set–to no avail.

I’m still doing a great deal of thinking about the body and its organizations.

I recently began working on a new recorded artifact that employs field recordings and a drone rendered through the Elapsed Isolationism of the Pixies song “Where is My Mind.”

I’m writing a trio right now titled Complete Aegis Trio. I am using methods of indeterminacy that are dependent on crosswalk signals on a pre-mapped path.

I got a job with a beer distributor, and I’ll be helping out pouring beer at the upcoming New York Beerfest next weekend. My job is sales rep. That’s the deal.

Apparently I’ll be making some rap music with Chris Tabron some time soon.


I live in New York, but more about music:

August 7, 2006 at 18:47 | Posted in Musings, new york, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Three or four years ago, while visiting New York, I came up with the idea to make Music for Subways. At the time I was listening to a lot of Brian Eno’s music–primarily stuff with Jon Hassell. The concept of this music was that you could listen to it, and it would be able to accomodate subway musicians in a way that their music wouldn’t disrupt any part of the structure of Music for Subways. It wound up being another year or two before my methods of musicking caught up with my methods for thinking music. The piece of music that realized this principle (although without any regard for Music for Subways because I was living in Orlando) was Music’s Possibles, which was a direct reference to the Eno/Hassell album Possible Musics.

So this method of working became just that, a method and I have a way of operating with sound so that it remains receptive to more sound. Lately though, as I live in New York, I have been thinking about this principle more. Either Music’s Possibles or Score for Motion (the second piece to use the receptive method) could be billed as Music for Subways, and I suppose that Music for Subways is more a classification than a particular piece.

So, beginnning with Eno and Hassell, and moving through a method for composing music I have arrived at a new variation of this principle: Music for Music. It’s not anything like a meteor striking Earth, but I feel like it will certainly lead to a great deal of thinking and musicking–on my part at least–with time. As is obvious Music for Music is just that.

There is the dichotomy of sound and silence. There is the dichotomy of music and noise. I am interested in troubling both of these structures, and getting at the radical negative that will rupture them. Music for Music implies that a kind of music that does not take part in the polarization of sound and listening can exist; Music for Music suggests a metamusic that is not a constative invocation of sound, rather a performative occasion in which sound takes place. Music for Music is a music that is composed in order to call attention to the abundance of music around us, as well as the abundance of noise, and to muddle the two, for if they are opposites but interact equally with a third object (Music for Music) then there must be an alternative structure to locate.

In the wise words of Shoshana Felman, from her text The Scandal of the Speaking Body:

“Thus negativity, fundamentally fecund and affirmative, and yet without positive reference, is above all that which escapes the negative/positive alernative”.

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