Wishart (1994; 1996) discusses how we can not measure a sound in space and in time simultaneously. By this he means that we can not measure the shape of a given sound and its frequency at the same time. And by this he means a sound can be broken up into its smallest constituent parts but that we can not also look at how those parts move through time at the same time as seeing what those parts are. At this point I am unable to elaborate any further. The explanations are completely counter intuitive.
Fast Fourier Transform. This is the algorithm Wishart (1994) states creates the ability to map a sound in slices, and reconstituted, pieces together the evolution of its structure in time. In echoes of McLuhan (1994), Wishart (1994) argues the capacity of the computer is the new mode of communication, contrasting this with the reification of written works in culture. Computer programs offer the ability to create and reproduce any sound, crucially also, the ability to manipulate its structure, its spectromorphology, in ways not previously possible. A sustain could last as long as the computer hardware was able to maintain the program running it.
The computer appears to offer the ability to create certainty. This, however, may not be the case. Fast Fourier Transform creates an approximation of what a sound is, an analogue, to reiterate Wishart in the closing paragraph of the previous chapter. Reproduction of a sound by any means is also a copy of its form. As such, while Oliveros and Cage expound the virtues of listening, this leads to a questioning, not so much of what is being listened to, but what is being listened for. This question illustrates a point by missing it, a distancing from what is being asked for in terms of the respective artist’s work and agendas. The question is a longing to jump from A-Z, to create a certainty in course. It is the linearity of Eye Culture as discussed in chapter 1.
…Wishart (1996 citing Levi-Strauss, 1970) discusses “deep structures” (1996, p.167). Deep structures are paradoxes, resistances and flux that lie in the foundations of the psyche, relate to and communing with myths and art. These can not be explained through language or this would already have been done so. Cage (2011) previously quoted in chapter 1, will be further expounded here: “New music: new listening. Not an attempt to understand something that is being said, for, if something were being said, the sounds would be given the shape of words. Just an attention to the activity of sounds” (2011, p.10). In communing with these deep structures lies the power of sound. Eye Culture, as discussed in chapter 1, is characterised by detachment, analysis, linearity and ordered subject and object relations. Sound as a dynamic elusive entity is closer in form to the resistances and flux lying in the psyche described above. Its uncertainty in space and time brings it also within the realm of paradox.
Uncertainty is extracted from Sound, Spatialisation and a Sense of Being. Rina Sagoo, 2013. MA Dissertation.
- Cage, J., 2011. Silence: Lectures and Writings. 9th Ed. London: Marion Boyars.
- McLuhan, M., 1994. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. 2nd Ed. London; Cambridge: MIT Press.
- Oliveros, P., 2005. Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice. Lincoln: iUniverse.
- Wishart, T., 1994. Audible Design: A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Sound Composition. York: Orpheus the Pantomine.
- Wishart, T., 1996. On Sonic Art. Amsterdam: Harvard Academic.