by Fjorn Bastos
Fjorn Bastos reflects on Hi-Viz 2021: Sound as Knowledge Exchange
PULSE IN WAVES AND FORM
The shift away from the abstractable is a key thread that resonates and weaves itself through those collected.
Transitions from not knowing to knowing, to understanding.
The energy of country, and the abstraction of context into concepts such as time and space
their proximity, their distance.
How we break with these constrictions by sharing sentience, through our pulses and the energetic reverberations of memory, opening to sonic and reverberant complexity, and reinstating multiplicity into the gathered character of tuning in.
Are how we moved towards collectively unravelling.
The classical paradigm of western epistemology denies the spirit of cognition and the mystery of what precedes it.
Embedded in the broader political and theological fabrics of a culture that denies the flesh
and is now desperately trying to receive the flesh.
Desires a quantifiable monadic and supreme structure to guide an obsession with the primacy of a thinking subject
where thinking is some sort of marker of supremacy
filling the void of presence,
with the compulsion to bring meaning to every single sign, occurrence and feeling,
engaging in listening in a manner that tries to capture it down to a memorialised schematic that can be filed away as data.
Listening doesn’t have a fixed location in a body, but we do listen with all our body.
Waves of frequencies aren’t always audible, but they travel through substances at different rates and their reverberations alter.
Knowing is more than a disenchanted and rationalisable action of grasping an accumulation of realisations.
What about the movements that can guide us through the exploration of encountering a moment of feeling synthesis and connection?
The movements that will alter how reverberations are absorbed.
And what about the vehicle that is driving the waves and impulses towards us?
How does this affect the transition from a moment of synthesis that may be knowing, to a transition into feeling that synthesis deeply within us as a resonance that may be what we can call understanding?
Submerging into the sentience contained in all things – and honouring the articulations of being in their most complex variety and multiplicity.
With grace and awe and respect for what might reside and be received.
A joy in not “knowing” in an extractive or total sense.
But knowing as experiencing a shared pulse and energy that resonates because we are embedded in the context it is eliciting.
The energy of country for example, cannot be picked up and placed somewhere else – it can resonate within us and it can guide us towards story,
can bound a pulse forward.
But to create from place in the absence of it is another task.
Speaking from loss rather than speaking to your relative – they are not the same experience.
The urgency that calculated clocked time brings to the body– that the body endures.
Then the surging pulsating movement of our internal beat – of blood, fluid – pulsing in every space, governed by a centre.
Competitive rhythms –
one we are led to believe is a universalised pulse, however the mechanised click of time, despite the localised force upon us to believe its pace – loses itself with distance.
The distance of those attached to our hearts but are lost in another realm of experiencing time
whose intersection of time experienced relates more to a past experience of my time – or perhaps races to my future.
There may be separation,
but maybe separation is something that can be mediated by other sentience.
Like when a bird migrates from one land to another.
The sky is a field of space and time – life that experiences this space and traverses these zones of time are perhaps binding differential rhythmic sequences.
The eagle and the crow are, after all, creator spirits of some of the lands in which we gathered virtually.
Their time is immemorial, and in that time they have seen waves of separations.
Documenting and archiving is always an accumulation but it isn’t necessarily tied to progression – it does not have to end because our engagement shifts – it does not have to amount to anything.
Allowing it to live, to unfold and alter and gather like the substance of knowledge, reveals that it is a breathing pulse.
Once it exits our grasp, slips into the folds of other touches and tangents.
You can never know what is going to become of the thing that you let go once you let it go.
What will it gather? How will it gather?
Giving in to the hands of another is an act of hope that requires trust and faith.
Giving ones’ memory into the hands of another
to interpret, alter and breathe in life is a grand request.
Something that is passed on to you has many layers – and because of this when we allow someone in to peel them with us, holding each other, a complex set of emotions arises
but mainly, engaging in storytelling together – we hope for a sense of joy.
So what is happening when you ask an element which is made up of resonant substances to pulsate?
Pieces of discard, or abstracted relics of human technology forged by will, not a collaborative technological creation,
composites of materials forcefully extracted from the earth, and forged together by human will.
Now are they found objects?
Because one can try to assume they are truly distanced from context
so we can confer meaning on it rather than ask it questions.
What if you ask it to pulsate?
Allow it to breathe?
Would they continue to show a resemblance to its forms of origin in some way?
Does extraction, reduction and forging elements together into a new form leave a trace when we ask it to pulsate?
Does it matter if we touch it in an act of kindness – allowing it to speak in tones and durations that tell us about its physicality – about the stories that are within its being?
When it is beaten profusely it still speaks.
Regardless the song is a gesture,
the wails of some form of imposed creation,
a kind gesture of honesty emitting from its body,
trying to assist the process of self-reflection for a cultural force that confuses listening with self-constitution through libidinal fantasy
rather than an embedded knowing through the shared exchanges of listening.
To breathe a body,
are we making a breathing body, or asking it to pulse with us?
My presence affects this while I am there.
I am not silent documenter, objective inspector.
The air pressure fluctuates and my presence then, returns again
To echo the sentiments of where we commence – one country cannot speak for another. There is no universal ocean, no universal rain, wind between trees – they are unique instances of place –
even if they’ve been decontextualised
into a variation on conceptual form.
How can something carved so specifically speak as the same body – they can resemble, and yet why would resemblance hold more weight than a divergence?
To pass the word in text, but not the action, why do we do this?
The absence of the subjects was felt – and pondered in the silent listeners.
Is this extraction?
The question of what does it mean to be in good relation – many of us were left wondering
Going beyond the project to the word – how do we listen to the word abstracted while questioning abstraction?
A tautology perhaps.
Or are we being asked to put our faith that the memory was given in to the hands of another with hope and trust and care?
Not beginning from curiosity or from the exploration of a theme, but an engagement in ones’ embeddedness,
in a manner that can be shared, or not – perhaps its witnessed.
This is devotion to what one is collected by and connected to
letting that which holds me be my witness.
And being willing to hear more than what I emanate, not as incidental, not as a background, perhaps not even as a collaborator.
My emanation does not have to be thought of in terms of its supremacy over anything else emitted.
They can be together or they can live apart – I may be simultaneously emanating elsewhere in another mode.
A willingness to stretch oneself out beyond the corporeal, and know that my intersection of time in those living in another rhythmic space – may come across me living an other path,
one that was not part of this journey.
All social institutions and their systems and structures are tainted by white supremacy in the colony. They continue to be formed around the same repetition of the colonial imaginary – an obsession with the power to control all things
governance, social and political relations, intimate relations.
Its modes of engaging always makes space for an exception,
an exception that is mal-distributed through the bonds and networks of generations of ties to extraction.
Not an exception that is required for the sanctity of equity, gathering, listening, sharing.
We’re all in this together doesn’t necessarily mean that we wish the same togetherness.
Some of us create and bind because we want to.
It brings us joy.
Whether it is carved into the archives of the institution – does not mean it does not resonate in other ways.
Through the pulses it strikes.
Speaking to the machine means speaking to the form we have brought in to being.
A form that has manifested as a result of extracted elements brought together through the force of human will.
For a purpose.
Maybe for joy.
But we can assume joy is contorted fantasy in the accumulative culture that realised the forms’ birth.
When we think of technology as an autonomous being – we are wishing it and willing it exists beyond us, learns beyond us.
Speaks reason that can transcend our complexity, that can give us answers because we have refined it.
But it is our craft in animated form.
What is its pulse and resonance that – like other materials extracted from place, bound together and made into an object of mastery and service – will continue without the one who made it?
Will someone play its wailing soul later too?
Will it play itself? Bring joy to itself?
Organised matter is a form of memory – the abstraction of which is our replica.
An abstracted replica of this autopoietic impulse and pulse.
This playful interrogation of the refined form, artificial intelligence, is still understood through the eyes of dominant waves of cultural failures to describe that which governs without abstraction.
Though every time it is named…nature…it is named in abstraction and distinction from what it encapsulates and governs.
The vernacular for human creation is still built around the dialectic of dominance,
and yet we playfully interrogate creation with curiosity while we will it to have sentience.
And fear that it can govern us.
This piece was written on Wurundjeri balluk – the unceded country of the Kurnaje-berreing clan of the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung tribe of the Kulin Nation. I pay my respects to the sovereign peoples whose custodianship of these lands, waters and skies remains unsevered despite occupation, war, dispossession, genocide, and neo-colonial governance. I acknowledge First Nations’ connection to material, creative practice, and epistemologies that have existed for more than 60,000 years despite all attempts at erasure.
You cannot erase what is embodied.
Thus I celebrate the enduring presence, knowledges and resistances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I acknowledge that Black deaths in this colonial occupation are the result of a form of psychosis that is derived from white supremacy, finding its voice in whiteness and white innocence.
I declare my dedication to the unquantifiable significance of Blak lives. And promise to work endlessly in solidarity with Blak resistance to secure the synthesis of Blak pasts and presences into a secure Blak future.