Hearing Things at the Interactive Sound Exhibit

By | 25 April 2002

Scrape at First Site by Chris Henschke, Oct 2001

It's easy to talk as if mere words
didn't hold understanding like a sieve,
easy to succumb to binaries in a digital age.
Some things sneak underneath the radar,
work not as statement but suggestion,
more virus than decisive attack.
In this constructed space, ancient and modern
technologies both tune in to the anarchic swell.
Timelines collapse. Take these two
antique turntables hooked up to a computer –
clutch plates, clock faces, sander sheets, all take the place
of retro vinyl; corroded grooves in both senses.
You sniff around with your fingers, curious
how natural all this electricity feels.
This is playground and jungle.
Even your cautious footsteps click samples
that rush to surround you.
This is chaos within your reach.
These mechanical dinosaurs whirr out the score
for the old old static, the white-noise watertable
lapping under the city, these unutterable words
made sound now, made flesh, hint at buildings
in a slow shift, grinding against each other, massive
illformed teeth. Is this the soul of the machine
or the machinery of the human soul, the hushed
resonance of existence turned up to eleven?
They scrape and whine as you trace tangled grey wires,
push buttons and grab handles, think 'Can I touch this?
Is this interactive?' & wonder if the metal boxes are watching
your response. Supposedly it's either art or entertainment;
from a distance they'll ask what it means. But here
you will huddle over a screen just as obsolete as that
fat bakerlight radio, trawl in the scream in the air,
and snap back to the background slander,
'Do you think you can know anything
outside full immersion?'

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