Listening for the 22nd Century

Concept by Ed McKeon
Vocaloid programming by Neil Luck
Image courtesy of Al Lapkovsky,
from the Futurist series Homo Digitalis

Postcards have been used as a metaphor for and example of language as a medium of ‘knowledge’ and communication detached from either speech or writing. In this sense, language is a principle of attachment that connects individuals through the distance that separates them - something we’re only too familiar with at the present moment. The sonic postcard, I think, offers a different understanding of language because the connection made by sound recordings can be affective. It touches us - quite literally through vibrations - and so can be felt also within the listener’s body.

In the same way, our capacity to imagine - to picture or narrate - ’the future’ depends on the power of language to conjure a time distanced and cut off from the present. Hence the idea of the time ’traveller’ (the ‘hero’ of HG Wells’ pioneering novel). Yet there is another tradition of anticipating times yet to pass, which are not abstract, separate and distant, but embodied, material, particular, and conjoined. These include forms of prophecy, divination, augury, oracles and such like, often related to shamanism, blindness, and material forms of symbolization (such as tea leaves). I take it as meaningful that music of the future cannot be imagined in the former sense - it can, at best perhaps, be described - yet music has in many cultures and times been considered prophetic in the latter sense.

As we are now distanced in space, cut off from each other, I wanted to play with the idea of not being cut off from our collective future, and that by listening here and now we might - however faintly - grasp what is essential for the times to come after this pandemic.

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