AUDIO - Vibeke Mascini --- call less
AUDIO - Vibeke Mascini --- ahoy
AUDIO - Flora Pitrolo --- Happy International Dawn Chorus Day and Happy May Day, Ella Finer
AUDIO - Amy Cutler --- men talking about birds
AUDIO - Christopher Heighes --- Still standing, still - Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre Level 1
AUDIO - Joe Kelleher --- Last night’s audience, invisible and dispersed, the first three minutes of Die Hamletmaschine 1987
AUDIO - Lia Mazzari --- HSSHire Old Kent Road_April 20
AUDIO - Lia Mazzari --- South East London Combined Heat and Power_April 20
AUDIO - P.A. Skantze --- Quarantine Pirate/Easing out of Lockdown
AUDIO - Dan Hall --- Cusuco
AUDIO - Arjuna Neuman --- Manaus Cargo (from the Soot Breath soundtrack)
AUDIO - Arjuna Neuman --- Cytokine Storm (Viral Counterpoint of the Coronavirus Spike Protein - remix)
AUDIO - Amy Cutler --- Facts about chorus
AUDIO - Sheila Chukwulozie --- Small Hours Between Me and John Martyn.
TEXT - Emma Bennett - The Commons as a Scene of Ordinary Irritation
TEXT - Tom Western - ACSG Response
TEXT - Sheila Chukwulozie - Small Hours Between Me and John Martyn
TEXT - Helen Frosi - In search of lost sounds
Acoustic Commons Study Group
Ella Finer with Emma Bennett, Sheila Chukwulozie, Amy Cutler, Helen Frosi, Dan Hall, Christopher Heighes, Joe Kelleher, Vibeke Mascini, Lia Mazarri, Arjuna Neuman, Flora Pitrolo, P.A. Skantze.
Start: 02/05 10:00 UTC+1
An Acoustic Commons Study Group
Curated by Ella Finer
10am – Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park ACSG X SC 2020
11am – Elephant and Castle shopping centre ACSG X SC 2020
12noon – British Library Sound Archive ACSG X SC 2020
Having first met as a closed group at the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park during Soundcamp 2019, and subsequently at the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre (August 2019) and the British Library Sound Archive (March 2020), the acoustic commons study group was first conceived and convened by Ella Finer as a way of gathering diverse considerations of what a commons is in sonic terms. Provoked by Ella's current project on "the wild life of sound" and feeding back into the writing of her forthcoming book (Errant Bodies, Berlin), the study groups respond to the particular times and spaces they take place within.
To mark a year since our first meeting, and in these uncommon times, I have invited group members from each meeting to study together, for the first time, online, in the context of Soundcamp 2020 with the focus on listening in common in uncommon times. As we all listen in to the continuous dawn chorus, Reveil, meeting other global times and places through the sung sounds of their dawn breaking, we will consider collectively - in waves - how we listen together/apart and how each of our domestic auditoria effect how/what we are now attuning to. What do we have in and out of common now while we listen in lockdown to time - to morning moving across the planet as we stay in place?
Each of the three groups will lead a dedicated session in the IRC chat room, overlapping in “waves”, with some members departing as others join the conversation/discussion as they wish. At three points (on the hour, spanning three hours from 10am to 1pm) a different group will lead discussion referring both to the live stream of Reveil and their own recorded responses to the text below.
Please find contributor responses to the far left of the page and timings for the IRC chat to the left.
Listening in Common in Uncommon Times | Ella Finer, April 27 2020
Are we flying with the planet or against it?
I am flying back to London on 14th March 2020. The world has already changed forever and will keep changing.
I am going home.
...the production of commons requires first a profound transformation in our everyday life, in order to recombine what the social division of labor in capitalism has separated. For the distancing of production from reproduction and consumption leads us to ignore the conditions under which what we eat, wear, or work with have been produced, their social and environmental cost, and the fate of the population on whom the waste we produce is unloaded (Mies 1999). In other words, we need to overcome the state of irresponsibility concerning the consequences of our actions that results from the destructive ways in which the social division of labor is organized in capitalism; short of that, the production of our life inevitably becomes a production of death for others. As Mies points out, globalization has worsened this crisis, widening the distances between what is produced and what is consumed, thereby intensifying, despite the appearance of an increased global interconnectedness, our blindness to the blood in the food we eat, the petroleum we use, the clothes we wear, and the computers we communicate with. 
I am reading these words in my window seat like they are horror - the speaking-in-writing of prophetic blindness to the blood. The irresponsibly interconnected world as its undoing. I am living this – in-flight – this reckoning with distance and disaster.
“Are we flying with the planet or against it?”
A young games designer on his way from Athens to Delaware via London looks at the in-flight graphics showing a tiny white plane following a line to London. He is preoccupied with the flatness of the graphics for representing “a dome? – it doesn’t make sense”. I listen to him and imagine he will be one of the generation who transform how the world looks in a few years: turning jolting planes crossing pixel-maps into smooth spheres rotating in expert alignment with the globe.
How strange, I think - imagining tech kids changing the way we see the world when the world is changing by the moment because of what we cannot, and never will, be able to see.
He talks about a home he knows through story and speech - a folk story his grandmother told him from her home in Guinea, about a little boy and a full moon, and a mother tongue that “cannot be written”. He speaks in Malinke – a language with floating tones. “It can be written in French, but that is not Malinke” – its transcription always an approximation for, a simplification of, what is complex sonic matter.
I am writing myself back onto the plane because here – at the threshold of a new era, in the air – the complexities and vibrant differences and distances in the world and words we use in common take on new resonance. Flying against the planet, home.
i would sing you the shape of the world between us. turn my body into drum to let you know. slam my skin onto the surface of the ocean to tell you. i am here. wherever you are.
whatever. the radio. just test me. there is nowhere I cannot be.
...we are Radio Alhara from Palestine and Jordan now. I guess in these situations, Palestine is just like everywhere else. What we did was something more global and open to everyone. We directly received messages from people in South Africa, Canada, Japan, and from Europe and the Arab world. The internet kind of takes away from that locality; but at the same time, we are here. 
At home, I tune into three quarantine pirate radio stations broadcasting from Beirut, Palestine and Tunis. Artist Urok Shirhan – who is always listening to multiple time-zones – has told me about these stations transmitting into the acoustic world of her lock-down home-life. When I am listening to Alhara I see Urok’s tiny face in the chat box alongside other listeners who are responding in real time. In the time I am there (with her?) she feels oddly present - communicating in brief, a correspondent across borders – her words in English and Arabic, and flames. This. Is. Fire.
We live in radio, listening to there from here, here from there, and I am here (Gumbs). At the same time, we are here (Khalili). I wonder what being here means right now for my friends across the globe, when here is actually-virtually located like never before.
For now, we meet here - in the web and waves - pulling bodies close, closer, and closing the distance between, in the so-called “airy nowhere” I have written about before.
Compelled and confounded by the distance between speaker and receiver in early telephonic communication, an anonymous reporter of the popular science magazine Scientific American called it ‘an airy nowhere, inhabited by voices and nothing else’… [going on] to describe with poetic clarity the strange conditions of speaking over the phone lines: ‘Between us two there is an airy nowhere, inhabited by voices and nothing else – Helloland I should call it’ (Engh 1994).
I am never sure what I am calling, or writing, into in this time - in my communications I have been saying how that odd phrasing in which an email "finds" someone well is starting to take on new meaning. Finding someone in the airy nowhere or the strange new nowhere - as Laura Barton has named the move to online event space in the ether - comes at a cost. At home the internet is not so freely accessible as outside.
And this brings up another of my conflicted thoughts, oscillating and present in these times – of privilege and precarity. What can we say is in common? And where is our place of commoning? Where are the offline commons now? That not everyone can live on air, or online, and that there is a cost for keeping "connected" is becoming explicit in ways exposing broadband as luxury. Are web-based commons still commons if not everyone can access them from where they call home?
Home is where the heart is, goes the saying. If so, a large and growing number of people in many countries, including Britain, are feeling homeless, even if they have somewhere to live or sleep at any particular moment. The commons and the idea of home are intimately linked. A core claim of the Charter of the Forest was that everybody had a right to a home, and for many people the commons was where that right was ensured. Yet, the idea of home has a double meaning, implying both a place to live and a place to which one has a strong attachment and sustainable sense of belonging…Many feel that they are not ‘at home’ anywhere. 
Standing describes the denizen – ‘a term applied in the middle ages’ to the outsider who on entering a town for work was given partial rights – never at home, or never allowed to feel at home. Centuries later Sir William Blackstone describes the denizen in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1753) as perpetually ‘in a kind of middle state between an alien and natural-born subject’. Animals and plants are often described as denizens – denizens of the natural world, the in-betweeners of the wild or re-wilded.
The rewilding of theory proceeds from an understanding that first encounters with wildness are intimate and bewilder all sovereign expectations of autonomous selfhood. To be wild in this sense is to be beside oneself, to be internally incoherent, to be driven by forces seen and unseen, to hear in voices, and to speak in tongues. By abandoning the security of coherence, we enter a dark ecology, where, to quote Michel Foucault (1994:302) from The Order of Things, “nature can no longer be good.” But even as wildness is internal in a psychic sense, we also sense it as an extrahuman, suprahuman force, what Timothy Morton (2013) dubs a “hyperobject” and what might be received as a message from nature to humans reminding us that there could be and probably will be life without “us.” As Nina Simone reminds us, “wild is the wind,” and the wildness of the weather, internally and externally, implies a pathetic fallacy that tethers the undoing of the human to the rage of new storms blowing in across the Caribbean. Wildness is where the environment speaks back, where communication bows to intensity, where worlds collide, cultures clash, and things fall apart. 
Halberstam and Nyong'o's observance that 'we live in wild times' just got wilder. In what ways are our communications bowing to the intensity of this time? How do we commune under pressure while uncommonly at home? In the absence of words can we stay silent and call out?
In correspondence with artist Vibeke Mascini about such forces seen and unseen, about vibrations reaching across distance, about unheard and 'other' frequencies, about forms of communication beyond human hearing -alongside listening to the 'silent' whale recording from the British Library Sound Archive, I wrote last week asking how we attune with/to unclear or uncommon sound, especially in unclear or uncommon times.
How do we cope with, deal with, let alone attend to, subjects we cannot hold in hand, we can neither see nor hear? Or subjects that appear as such? Subjects that shape-shift, change scale and frequency, medium and channel? 
By abandoning the security of coherence? -So as to find and invent new ways of being in the world together while apart, as the new in-betweeners, the new denizens? To meet at distance so we can be close again to our living, and our dead. As Alexis Pauline Gumbs writes so radically, in relation to the collectivity of coral and its poetic importance, is there such a thing as one person?.
I see coral as another narrating life-form, similar in some ways to the life-forms that tell themselves a story about being human, but with crucial revisions to that story. Coral, like us, build on a massive scale. Coral reefs become the size of cities in the ocean; they are the only other organisms that build on such a large scale. And their dead stay with them; they live atop the skeletons of their ancestors. Or their skeletons are their ancestors? And this is part of the poetic importance of coral, and their connection to the possibility of a new science of the word. Scientists can’t seem to describe coral. The collectivity of coral (corals) exceeds the language. Is there such a thing as one coral? Aren’t coral inherently collective? Would we think of them as multiple animals with one stomach? Or one animal with many many many many mouths? And what about us, living on the same matter, with multiple hungers and resources that we pretend are not shared, so many of us making cities that we pretend are not always built on the dead—is there such a thing as one person? 
 From Silvia Federici, Re-Enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons
 From Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Whale Songs
 From interview with Yazan Khalili in Yamakan: Reimagining Spaces On A Pirate Radio (Part II: Palestine)
 From Ella Finer, The Aura of the Aural
 From Guy Standing, Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth
 From Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong’o, Introduction: Theory in the Wild
 From Ella Finer to Vibeke Mascini, Vibeke Mascini: INFRA
 From Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Being Ocean as Praxis