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  • Kani Lent and Felix Ansmann

Lament


The palingenesis of the labyrinth was putrefaction, an inexorable vortex spiraling towards complete disintegration of any figment of persistence. The labyrinth unfolds as a vein-like arrangement of veiled passages, confusing the realms of materiality and immateriality interchangeably. Wanderers claw their way through layers of the sarcous fabric.

Dead fruits that tempt the eye but burn to ashes on the lips. Deterioration oozing through the cracks and shimmering through fragile layers of skin and paint.

Their minds wander to a schismatic realm, guided by something that will not tell them the way.


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The sound work is inspired by the themes and concepts present in Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh’s “Omnicide” and George Perec's novel "A Void." The work is designed to capture the sense of absence and emptiness present in “A Void”, using sound to create a world without language and communication, and existential dread, mania as detailed observation and delirium present in “Omnicide’’.The work gradually builds in complexity, creating a sense of tension and disorientation. As the piece progresses, the sounds become more abstract and distorted, with layers of sound building upon each other to create a startling sonic landscape.The use of compression, distortion and simulated space through digital reverb creates a sense of emptiness and absence, suggesting a general loss or absence. The work incorporates elements of lamentation and mourning. The use of dynamics and timbre, of resynthesized sounds and voice synthesis suggests the loss and grief that accompanies the absence of language and communication.


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We propose a research project that re-examines the cultural practice and sonic genre of the lament for our contemporary moment. The lament constitutes an elegy for the deceased. It moves freely between spoken word and voices as sound rather than language, between the retelling of a person’s character and life and an abstract sound of mourning. Our research project speculates on the sound of mourning when life and death are increasingly digitized. We ask what a lament might be and sound like when more and more parts of our life are lived in the digital, when we leave a vast collection of traces behind as data, and when the reconstruction of a deceased person’s self from that data as an artificial entity becomes an increasingly feasible speculation. But we also understand lamentation as something that goes beyond the human: it could express mourning for a decaying environment or a collapsing ecology of technological and other non-human actors. With the lament, sound stands in direct relation to a void. Here, it marks the absence of something, the passing of something. The lament is at the same time an echo of something absent and the resonance of absence itself. In this way, it is fundamentally strange, eerie, weird. But beyond what such a lament might sound like, we are also interested in how it might travel as a form of energy transmitted between nodes of a network. A lament in its conventional meaning vibrates through a congregation of human mourners, a speculative lament might travel between human, non-humans and technical objects alike. Here, we draw inspiration from Stefan Helmreichs concept of transduction: “sound is a form of energy transmitted through a medium. Often, that energy moves across or between media - from an antenna to a receiver, from an amplifier to an ear, from the lightness of air to the thickness of water. With such crossings, sound is transduced. [...] Transduction names how sound changes as it traverses media, as it undergoes transformations in its energetic substrate (from electrical to mechanical, for example), as it goes through transubstantiations that modulate both its matter and meaning.” This modulation of matter and meaning of the sound of mourning as it travels through our contemporary media ecology, populated by human, technological, and non-humans actors, is what we want to explore through experimental soundworks over the course of the residency.

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