Brady Ciel Marks
An Unconscious Air
What happens when a mediated personality, (streamer, influencer, z-list celebrity, band member engaging in between song banter or radio DJ) goes off script, in the space between choreographed events? In this liminal temporal space the stutter and the para-language becomes the new song. Ranging from lip smacks, ums & aahhs, speaking moistly, ASMR, musing on who the audience is, pondering on who is in the lonely city or lurking on the fridges of the network, including timbral play with their own voice and voicing repressed desires formed in COVID-19 isolation and embedded with a reincarnated spirit of an 'I Saw You' ad from the personals columns.
This interactive soundscape of structured improvisational performance for voice, microphone and electronics explores the interregnum of public yet intimate space that is the embedded in the widespread practice of 'close' mic-ing, where a speaker and an audience whisper to each other acoustically inches or even millimetres ( in the case of headphone listening ) away, the global digital network between them not withstanding.
Creating bridges with other mediums such as the ‘I Saw You’ or forlorn missed connection columns in lost printed newspapers and breaking with the rigid strictures of media formatting, such as dead-air, snappy segues, concise hype-filled descriptions, self-written biographies and a curated public persona, this performance reaches to intrigue the listener and leave us questioning: Are our virtual explorations a connection or a reflection? Are we paying twitch streamers to be our friend surrogates? Are these on-demand relationships just one-sided?
This work continues a long interest of using sound and algorithms to make an assay of mediated online spaces, to eavesdrop on what people desire in them. In 2003 I used the realtime searches of the GNUtella peer-to-peer file sharing network as found poetry to create a generative soundscape. This now is an examination of close mic-ed intimacy. The context for this piece is COVID-19 longing, but also more generally questions the affect and effectiveness of mediated space to connect. As Arcade Fire’s Reflektor laments – “I thought, I found the connector, It’s just a reflektor”. As Michael Snow’s Wavelength meticulously interrogated the trapezoid in front of the camera and onto the screen, this work in turn tries to break, invert, and reform the reverberations between mediated speakers and listeners – us.
The conceit for An Unconscious Air is that you have come to this place, this device, to listen to someone familiar, imagine for a moment you have switched on a podcast, connected to a streaming personality or simply switched on talk radio, then something else starts…
I’d like to acknowledge Velveeta Krisp’s Close Encounters (Audio Art Volume 6, 2015), Alvin Lucier’s classic work I Am Sitting In A Room (Lovely Music Ltd, 1981), the Sum Art Gallery and Bobbi Koznuk for providing a forum to develop an earlier forms of this piece, the “Missed Connection” back pages of the Georgia Straight and the users of Lex a queer connections application, all for your part in infusing and inspiring this continuation.
The screen is split in two frames horizontally. Each frame has a blue background. On the top frame there is an effect of semi-transparent dark blue half ovals that layer overtop of each other similarly, creating an effect that looks like rolling hills in the distance.On the lower frame there is a horizontal line of turquoise circles that appear on the screen almost as raindrops, running into each other and distorting each other before appearing. The blue ovals in the top frame move up towards the top of the page and the teal circles move down towards the bottom of the page.
This is an interactive sound experience. This work is responsive to the sound in your environment. First, the sound that is captured from your microphone is added to the soundscape that is being played, to enable your sounds to meld with the soundscape. Additionally, the microphone input is analyzed through an algorithm that selects from a number of sound samples in response to the sounds that you are providing to the soundscape. Every 90 seconds a new sound clip of a varying length will be played. Each time you experience this work it will be different, and therefore a robust sound description of your exact experience will not be possible.
Some of the themes present in the sound clips are: sounds of water, distorted voices, percussive rhythms, sounds of drinking, humming, sounds of typing, echoes, breathing, clear voices, etc. Many of the sounds have been heavily digitally processed.
Brady Ciel Marks is a sound artist, DJ, computational artist,and educator. Brady is concerned with our technological entanglement and creates media configurations that express a middle way between technological fetishism and dystopian fantasies. She works with technology, against technological thinking and for marginalized voices using sound, light and interaction. Brady holds a M.Sc. in Interactive Arts from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and has recently been teaching at Emily Carr University of Art+Design in the New Media Sound Art area. She has long hosted the Soundscape Show on Vancouver’s Co-op Radio. Brady was born in shadow of Table Mountain, Cape Town South Africa, makes her home on the unstable stolen land of the šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, and be found to thrive on queer party dance floors. Furious Green Cloud