Sediment Versions (I-IX), 2020, w/ Andrés Saenz de Sicilia 

Sound, 14:25
Dubplate printed on Transco lacquers from 1974. Cut at Music House, London
Produced by Villa Lontana Records.

As part of group exhibition Memory Game, at Villa Lontana. Curated by Jo Melvin and Vittoria Bonifati.

Group exhibition artists: Tauba Auerbach, Cyprien Gaillard, Susan Hiller, Thomas Hutton, John Latham, Charlotte Moth, Rosalind Nashashibi + Lucy Skaer, Olu Ogunnaike, Giorgio Orbi, Andrés Saenz de Sicilia + Emiddio Vasquez, Edoardo Servadio and Joëlle Tuerlinckx.

CCurators’ text Andrés Saenz de Sicilia and Emiddio Vasquez were invited to respond through sound to a selected number of artefacts in the Santarelli Collection, to unlock their acoustic memories and guide them into a new fusion of inscriptions and conversations. These histories are accumulations of multiple interconnected events and processes, legible at varying scales:
geological, civilisational, sociological, psychic, emotional, etc.

The objects act as a ‘site’ of condensation, to transpose contained historical energy into sound, as a way of releasing those memory constellations and making them accessible in a phenomenal way, through listening. Sediment Versions (I-IX) is made using field recordings and photographs of the marbles to construct filters that "shave off" frequencies from the
raw material of the objects, imagining these surfaces as histories, or writings through which sounds travel. The original sounds are then processed to become the final compositions, like geological sediments that are not accessible when listening to them in their raw state.
The artists’ methodology, is an investigation of sounds, digging down like archeologists to isolate layers. Some layers of sound correspond more to a specific object from the set they’ve been asked to respond to, and others relate more to the objects as an ensemble.

Forthcoming contribution to catalogue by Andrés Saenz de Sicilia and Emiddio Vasquez:

Continental drift theory suggests what the image of the world already reveals: in the deep time domain, continents and therefore histories constantly move in relative ways and eventually drift apart. Some of the first speculations of a torn Pangea appeared in the aptly titled Theatre of the World by Abraham Ortelius in 1570. At a time where explorers raced to fill in the missing segments of the earth, science sought the missing components of the mechanism that constituted the New World. Under these conditions, the provocation of a moving planetary substrate simply did not fit the requirements for fixing and binding the Atlas: the land had to be still and science–often associated with travel–had to move in order to conquer it. For all the biblical qualities in the descriptions of geological phenomena, such as ruptures, one thing remained certain: the land was still. Hence, the dominance of Newtonian physics as Boris Hessen notes. Somewhat paradoxically that same stillness, in the form of absolute rest, was foundational in Newtonian physics from where we also receive the postulate of an absolute space and, of course, God as its first cause. And yet despite the principles of stillness, objects find ways to move in space and time. Motion is that expression through which objects persist in time, one simply needs to adjust the frame of reference. Not surprisingly then, the proof of an originary Pangea turned out to be fossils, which serve, in similar ways, as evidence of the historicity in the material of any object.    

Let us then consider these objects, not as a dumb masses of dead matter (however peculiar their provenance) but as a living things. Or perhaps, more than things, as living ´sites´ in which multiple overlapping events, processes, energies, etc, converge. How do such sites and the multiplicities that inhabit them come to attain their distinctive forms and qualities? Certainly not, as Walter Benjamin insisted, in a punctual moment of ´creation´ that would alone determine what the object is (what it can do, what it can mean) once and for all. Both in time and in space, discreteness and fixity gives way to a contested and evolving composition. The material synthesis in question here is akin to an ongoing process of sedimentation, concentration and accumulation of diverse forces within the intensive space of the object. A space not determined according to a pure passage from intention to realised form and effects, as the quasi-divine emanation from idea to concrete expression. A space, rather, configured through aleatory movement, as the concatenation of so many translations, recodings, interpretations and instrumentalizations, between and across domains and at multiple scales: geological, civilizational, sociological, perceptional, psychic and emotional.

These objects are bearers of a kind of memory: both their own and the world´s; sedimented histories which Adorno named the ‘process stored in the object’. Yet memories and histories are not identical with the events and experiences to which they refer, rather they encode those events in another medium or space of experience (the mind, soul, body, words, images or sounds) and as new events (remembering, re-telling, re-presenting). Because this encoding always requires a medium or material, the relation to any ‘original’ event undergoes distortions and alterations. The peculiar qualities of the medium interfere with the ‘content’, imposing the medium’s own constraints and characteristics. Simply by virtue of the medium’s own materiality, memory is therefore subject to a second kind of distortion - the law of temporal decay which is a basic condition of being in space across time. The condition of possibility for memory (its inscription and retention in a material medium) thus also becomes the condition of its transformation into something new and different.

How does sound then relate to these still decaying objects? How then do we approach historical residues and debris through a medium that does not itself move, but rather moves and activates the space that it inhabits? This is the complementarity between sound and sculpture that Michel Serres identifies in the closing pages of Statues. Where sound ends, sculpture begins. Sound, by departing from the global, weaves time; and the statue responds by terminating time and synthesizing a space in its local vicinity. Perhaps the interface between these two processes can be best perceived through the imperfect dance of a diamond needle along the grooves of a spinning disc as it amasses dead matter. A punctured disc whose carved out surface serves as a temporary transcription of those histories inhabiting the objects. And even if it remains unclear whether sound complements or opposes sculpture, between these two prelingual ontologies a new form of dialogue emerges, one between soft waves and hard marble.