Detail from sound spectrogram

Production view. Taking Care. Sound Fossil. 2022

Things are actually not this and that. They are much more complicated and making that complexity accessible, sound can really offer that. And then, of course, it’s not just sonic, it has smell, it has feel, it has the embodied. But for me, sound is like a portal. A transgressing of the binary, geographical, physical, political binaries. And to actually question the whole binary normativity we live within. It’s a portal into that other possible world in which we can live in the volume and in the indivisibility of the world rather than its constructed dividedness.

– From the conversation with Salomé Voegelin on sound, vibration and listening. 2022

Electromagnetic recording around the apartment in La Becque
Extract from “Hungry Listening. Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies”. Dylan Robinson. 2020
Detail view Sound Fossil, 2022. Photo © Jelena (Jelly) Luise

But you know, for me, poetry is not only about this way of breaking out of the expected. The expected use of language… to reconfigure it, refresh it, to highlight the things we usually ignore, which are the sounds, to listen in a different way. But poetry is also related to poiesis: generative creativity. I feel like there’s a way in which art and science is very much about poiesis. It’s about tapping into the generative powers of the world. And I think that sometimes, but not always, you know, the form of poiesis that social sciences have taken, is more like the destruction. It’s critique and identifying things and their problematic. And that’s important. But we miss this other part of possibility, which I think art and science have. It is the possibility of creating. And, you know, I think the important thing for me is, and this is part of the larger claim that forests think, is to say that poiesis is not just something we project onto the world, the world itself is poetic, “poiesic” or has this kind of creative potential. And what we need to do is to learn to listen for it. So “listening”, sound here becomes important.

– From the conversation with Eduardo Kohn on sound, vibration and listening. 2022

Detail view Sound Fossil, 2022. Photo © Jelena (Jelly) Luise
Detail view Sound Fossil, 2022. Photo © Jelena (Jelly) Luise
Sound Fossil, 2022. Photo © Jelena (Jelly) Luise

Dominique: To go back to knowledge: Do you think vibration and sound transmission is a specific kind of knowing? How do you think is sound connected to knowledge?

Jeremy Narby: I actually go along with this when we talk in terms of human beings knowing things. You know, listening to a human voice sharing knowledge, telling you a story, a story in which there is knowledge, that is in my opinion a great way of transmitting knowledge. I think we live in a world increasingly of images. I’m not saying that we have to get rid of images for there to be true knowledge. Still, images have so invaded the space of understanding that it’s as if they get in the way of people really paying attention. It’s so easy to see an image, you can see it, think you get it and move on to the next image. And in fact, at no moment were you paying attention. Whereas the human voice, that’s… so I think radio is great, because that’s all there is. There’s no images getting in the way. And the human voice is very powerful.

Dominique: Also sound and vibration are very physical.. I think the human voice is powerful because it becomes physical, I can feel the vibration of someone’s voice. What about memories? Because in my experience memories get triggered much faster through hearing the related sounds than looking at images.

Jeremy Narby: Its sound and smell in terms of having a deep impact in the brain. On memories, on trauma, on getting to the root of what the person’s problem might be. So we shut off the images. And we turn up the volume and the smells.

Detail view Sound Fossil, 2022. Photo © Jelena (Jelly) Luise

A second advantage of ultrasonic music was that its frequencies were so high they left no resonating residues in solid structures, and consequently there was no need to call in the sound-sweep.

– J.G. Ballard, The Sound Sweep (1960)