Monthly Archives: October 2012

Presence = Aura

Presence, as defined by audio recording engineers, is an ephemeral quality of sound, an almost instinctive sheen that is known when heard. A sound with presence is imbued with authenticity, it contains qualities that the listener believes to be real, to be live, to be happening in the same space as the listener. Continue reading


Every Seat in the Frankel Wing of the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Every Seat in the Frankel Wing of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2011)

Humans seem to have an almost innate capacity for comprehending multiple states of being at the same time. When we look at a satellite picture of a city, we immediately recognize it as both a unified whole (a city) and a conglomeration of tiny items or segments that make up that whole (buildings, cars, parks, bodies of water, animals, trees, trash cans, lamp posts, other people). We don’t necessarily consciously think this through – I am looking at both a city and its component parts – but we are able to instinctively perceive that this image has multiple states, as both a singular object and a collection of other objects. Continue reading

We Specifically Need More Ambiguity

Within its porous borders, the ambiguous contains a tremendous power to enable mystery and wonder. Within the indecisiveness of ambiguity lies the opportunity for equal-footed communication between artist and audience. As borders between disciplines become increasingly blurry, so the work produced using these hybrid methods may benefit from an inherent lack of specificity as well. Continue reading

Tractable Space

Space is endlessly malleable, pliant, transformable. Try as architects might to command space, to fix it in place, it is inherently tractable in relationship to the person experiencing it. Everyone’s experience of a space is different: they exist at a different height, they occupy the space at a different time, they hear different things there. Who hasn’t stayed in a hotel, or moved into a new apartment, and reached for a light switch they swear should be there because it was just there a second ago – or was that another apartment ago? Continue reading

Phonography: The Process of Discomfort

I hit the RECORD button and I start to hurt – but most of that is probably just in my head.

Sitting quietly should make me calm, should relax me, but instead I usually tense up when making a field recording. My goal is to remove my sonic self from the world while capturing the sounds around me. I view myself as a ghost, as a watcher, as an instrument of collection. My goal is to have a pristine record of what it would sound like if I weren’t there.

But I am there, and I make noise. We all do, and more often than not we barely even realize it. Continue reading

On Collection

Even in the post-digital age, the act of collection remains a profoundly human activity. Collectors live through their collections; the acquisition and organization of a select set of objects is a process that can help guide or even consume the collector’s activities based on the level of obsession involved. Every collector is an obsessive to a certain degree – collections would not exist if not for their coexistence with a related, consuming passion.

Many factors contribute to the obsession/collection matrix. Although each collector’s reasons for their activity may vary, there are certain motivations that seem inherent: Continue reading

On Listening


To listen is to “give attention,” as one dictionary meaning states. The act of listening is one of engaged compassion, a surrendering of one’s self to the never-ending sonic world around us – to the breeze that scatters dry leaves on an autumn afternoon; to the gravitational pull that causes waves to lap against a coastline; to the aesthetic mathematics that result in the composition of a melody; to the friend whose problems are temporarily eased by our willingness to attend to their utterances.

In an era where daily life is thick with the bombardment of mediated information, the act of truly listening is a radical downshifting of expected priorities, a trap sidestepped. Continue reading