Lawrence English – Approaching Nothing

CD – Baskaru

The chimes of a bell ring out six times and after a pause resume more mighty and continuous. In the background you hear chirps, then in other gentle sequences are the sound of birds and muffled noises from a nearby road, before the crows come – very close to the powered microphones – with their loud and ungainly screeches. Then the constant vibration of an engine. We don’t know exactly what to distinguish. – At last human voices and whispers. The Australian Lawrence English is a field-recording specialist and a theorist of “the perception of the political” as well as a curator for various arts events and the founder of Room40, a renowned experimental label. Approaching Nothing comes from Baskaru, however, a French record label also dealing with experimental electronic music and sound art. The project explores places that were already covered by the auditory exploits of another composer, Luc Ferrari, who recorded Presque Rien No. 1 in 1967 in Vela Luka, an island of Korcula. While listening to the more than thirty minutes of auditory sequences the immediate feeling that comes to us is that of a continuous recording, perhaps with just some cuts, an acoustic psychogeographic drift. The documentary vocation is obvious, especially in the citation of a seminal field recordings approach, or phonographic, although the use of field recordings is also a reference to the Cagean concept that “music is all around us.” The many audio puzzles following the inspiration of the moment and a rather bland traveling rhythm still manages to hook the listener’s attention, instilling a healthy curiosity in the unfolding of the action and on the very multifaceted nature of the areas passed through.


Lawrence English – Approaching Nothing
Approaching Nothing by Lawrence English


Sarah Cook – Information

The MIT Press / Whitechapel, ISBN-13: 978-0262529341, English, 240 pages, 2016, UK
What is the main difference between a curator and an editor? Apparently it’s mostly attached to the mediums they use (the white box vs. the white page), and, as such, related to the organisation of knowledge in these respective spaces. Sarah Cook is not only a curator, she has also extensively researched and practiced curatorship in a digital dimension. In this book she applies “curatorship attitudes” to the editing process in the selection and organisation of an anthology of texts. The five sections are organised around the lifecycle of information and are meant to be “a survey of art beyond information theory”. Included are texts from or about artists and/or artistic forms, including pioneering practices from the 1960s through to the present. They are drawn from an eclectic mix of formats ranging from press releases to interviews, including curators’ and artists’ statements. It’s a very rich and consistent selection, where concepts like signals and signifiers, together with quantity and quality of information, are approached through specific lenses, making for a more compelling engagement than is usually found in theory volumes. All these focuses, while well linked together, are also expanded in the book’s introduction, with quotes and works not necessarily included in the texts. This is perfectly legitimate, as Cook affirms that “information is not the thing, but rather the process of its manifestation”.