LISTENING

Scribner Farm, Kingston Creek, New Brunswick

Scribner Farm, Kingston Creek, New Brunswick

Transitioning into Fall. Birthday on the way. Reflecting on the fullness of these past few Summer months: Pictou Island Portage, White Rabbit, Secret Theatre residency (more on these soon)... wind and water days, fire nights, all on earth. Incredible people. Incredible laughs. Incredible sounds. Incredible wonders. I'm feeling full of life and experience, and I'm looking forward to a Fall of harvest, reflection and seasonal shifts.

I am happy to announce that I will be participating in the Centre for Art Tapes Media Arts Scholarship program where I intend to create a new video piece employing analogue methods. I've also received support from Arts Nova Scotia to create a new audio piece that embodies felt histories. I'll report more as the projects unfold. 

As I make the shift to analogue-tech-land, I've been reflecting back on some older writing of mine about sound. Here's something to leave you with from many moons ago:

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the front-seat of an old truck with my grandmother. The seat was no longer in the truck, though it now belonged to a small hill beside my grandparents’ rural home.

My grandfather was an avid accumulator of discarded items found at yard sales and flea markets. As a welder and electrician, he was often on the hunt for things that could be used in future projects - old cars, metal, wiring, an old boat, an underwater suit - and would also harvest materials from things that were no longer of use, such as the old-dead-truck seat my grandmother and I were sitting on.

Just up the hill, through the birch trees and into the forest clearing was where many of these collected things were stored. Some of them sat for years outside, never finding new life. On my journeys through the woods, I would visit the clearing often, noticing how the objects were slowly becoming more and more a part of the earth. 

The land we lived on had been occupied by my family for many generations, so along with the recent manufactured objects, the fields further up the property were littered with turn of the century farm equipment and old structures that were rusting away and collapsing, memories of a land that was once a livelihood.

My surroundings were a confluence of nature and indestructible, man-made objects, that were now undergoing their own process of decay. To me, the land I frolicked in as a child was a graveyard, of sorts - a place where things came to go back into the earth. Here I could see how trucks and human beings and butterflies were all made up of the same stuff. Nothing was superficial. 

“What are the leaves saying, Lindsay?” my grandmother asked, as the wind blew through the trees above us. “Shhhhhhh,” I replied with my index finger to my mouth, and we continued to listen.

I have my grandmother to thank for encouraging me to listen. Coupled with the visible cycles of nature and decay, listening somehow connected me to a profound sense of the processes taking place. A felt sense of life and death. Deep time.

Today, I think back to those early years, and I remember listening. Listening to the woods. Listening to my great grandmother ask for a “8” or “Ace” (I could never tell the difference) over a game of solitaire. Listening to my grandfather’s welding torch. Listening to my Mom cross-stitch make paper-mâché masks for her friends. Listening to that weird squeaking sound the upstairs bathroom window made when it was windy. Hiding under the table when I heard it, and listening to my grandmother chat above with her friend Carol.

I even listened to music. A lot of it. Thanks to my grandfather’s interest in accumulating objects, I had a record and 8-track player in my room when I was four, five, six. I would spend hours alone listening to albums passed down to me from as far back as my great grandmother’s collection. I had no sense that more than one of each recording I possessed existed. I just assumed that Elvis, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, the orchestral disco guy and many others created the sounds I listened to for me alone. Music was this private, magical experience that tied everything together in my small world. The in-need-of-repair aviator arcade game downstairs was included in the soundtrack by means of the clapping in “Baby Love.” Elvis’ voice was the central character in the nighttime cricket and frog orchestra. The doo-doo-doo-doo-doo’s in “Tossin’ and Turnin’” explained my uncle’s sense of humor. And the physical interaction with records through their blips, static, warbles, slowing down, speeding up was a testament to nature’s creativity and destruction.

Due to my early experiences, sound has always been my primary way of seeing, interacting with and remembering my world. It seems to me that sound is not separate from matter - sound is the creator, destroyer and voice of matter. Sound makes an impact, even unheard.

The sounds that comprise my practice often feel like they've been unearthed from the landscape of my childhood, the territory of memory. I've discovered that some sounds are more present today than before, and that some have faded away to an oxidized whisper. What I share with you now is the forgotten and remembered of a tender history.

Memory. The earth building up, collapsing, weathered down, restrained and decayed. Spaces of loss sifting around underneath. Little pieces quietly fading, shifting, wanting to sweep the sky. I need to recover them. Bring what is left to the surface. Find the hidden hope beneath a layering of heavy sediment.