Tuesday, August 25

Hunter gatherer

A riot of perfumes

In our culture of rational thinking, we tend to trust our sensory experiences more than anything else for how we understand the world around us. For most, the response to tasting a cupcake would be "sweet," to seeing the color of the sky would be "blue." Although we receive sensory information through distinct sensory organs, they become intimately intertwined once they enter the brain. Syn­aes­the­sia is a condition in which senses mingle, causing the synaesthete to taste colors, hear smells, etc. In Huysman's Á Rebours, Des Esseintes "indulges himself by playing a 'mouth organ' on which he can perform 'silent melodies and mute funeral marches' by releasing carefully calibrated amounts of various liqueurs on to his tongue, with 'each and every liqueur ... correspond[ing] in taste with the sound of a particular instrument.'" The painter Wassily Kandinsky believed that his paintings could be aurally as well as visually experienced, and he may not have been wrong.

Some instances extend beyond basic sensory perceptions. "A stu­dy in the Aug. 22 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Con­scious­ness and Cog­ni­tion, for ex­am­ple, found that some peo­ple link time and space. One de­s­cribed De­cem­ber as a red ar­e­a lo­cat­ed at arm’s length to the left of their bod­y."
Lexical → gustatory synesthesia occurs when a phoneme of a word elicits a taste memory for the synaesthete. They literally taste words. A strange web of interconnectedness between senses and memories, as paths to experiences cross in the mind.

Monday, August 24

A watched clock

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”

Audible timekeeping was one of the earliest forms of communicating the time over long distances. The first clocks struck the hours, but had no faces from which the time could be read. Audible time signals allow for the communication of the time over great distances, in the dark or other situations of impaired visibility, and for those navigating at sea. A modern example (the hammer strikes the vase on the hour.)

Church bells were used to mark the canonical hours, in order to call the community to prayer.

Time was also marked by the firing of a time cannon or time gun. This still occurs in Edinburgh, Santiago and Capetown. They fire daily, but each at a different time.

This map was used to determine the exact time through location in relation to how fast the sound of the cannon traveled.

Friday, August 7

Incidental catharthsis

I saw this at the New Museum yesterday and was immediately intrigued. LeRoy Stevens visited 70 records stores in New York City to poll the employee's votes for best scream in a rock song. He took the results, edited them to only include the screams and put these together on "LeRoy Stevens: Favourite Record Screams" LP (the A side has the screams edited to be continuous; B side gives the listener a 10-second break between tracks.)

There is something very cathartic about screaming, either doing it or listening to it I guess all fundamental sounds in language, when broken down to sounds and not strung together to form words or sentences, are the purrs, grunts, hums and breaths of the human body. Throwing volume, pitch or any other sound that makes them seem emotive causes a very different, very intuitive response by the listener. Screaming is an ambiguous sound, its meaning derived from the context of the sonic event. The screams on this album range from rock to operatic sources. We know as listeners we are listening to a scream, but even with the context of the song removed we have a reading based on the delivery, style and history of what we recognize in the sound.

I kind of wish Stevens had removed the music and isolated the vocal tracks so that all we were left with was the sound of each yelp, but you can use the link above to listen to his work and make your own decision.

Thursday, August 6

The who and the what

Someone posted this link to Jacques Derrida speaking on the paralells between being and love. Four minutes of your day for a little philosophical meditation....