The Actual School

Pretext

Process

Reference

Modulation

Archive

Pretext

In-formation, or Picking Mushrooms

Two elements orient our response to Process, Reference, Modulation, and Archive. Firstly, the invaluable dialogue with Andrew that moved this piece was guided by the transduction / individuation relationship that Gilbert Simondon worked through. In a sense, we are framed by a discourse about process, about bringing together disparate movements, changes, zones, etc. We are thinking of ourselves through someone else’s exciting and peculiar explanation for the shape of ordering. Secondly, the conceptual space of mushroom picking. The process is gathering, sorting, instrumentalizing. The reference is the typological identification of each mushroom and, without reason, a silence which affirms: “we are out here picking mushrooms.” The modulation is the specificity of gathering (quantity) and sorting (qualifier), as well as the attitudes and approaches to preparing them. The archive is the discovery that the activity of gathering was set in motion within that area, and that it is still in motion there: you can return, or rather, it could return. The question for sound composition here is: how can an archive become reference (a set of signals) for a new process without constituting it by origin (the fault of Epimetheus…)?

For us, thinking transductively is composition; it is the temporary structuration of organizing principles that gift us composition, their capacity to be referenced and effected as such, and a tandem modification inevitably signaling its becoming something else.

Process

Our process is to prefigure conceptual spaces, and our methods are tactics for recognizing them in sound. These conceptual spaces can be argued as being strategic; they are transductions setting certain relations into motion, relations we love and relations that concern us. Setting up a conceptual space forces us to instrumentalize certain tactics, and therefore witness an event, or individuate an aesthetic. This prefiguring does so in terms of an outcome; however, this is an indeterminate outcome, influenced by the process itself — an individual always at genesis. The hope here is that we record specific individuations by prefiguring transductions.

For this piece, our process is threefold – each person:

1. gathers enough materials (division of labor),
2. sorts those materials audibly for the others in real-time (performance), and
3. co-composes while sorting (‘while fleeing, pick up a weapon’).

Reference

Prefiguring can more aptly be thought of as a set of references used to locate concepts; in a word, cartography. The idea is to map a concept through aesthetic tactics. This is based on the need of the performer, not their abilities — carrying capacity over surplus.

For this piece, we can admit that references were used to prefigure a conceptual space based on three different needs: 1. the sound of body movements, 2. recordings of live performances, and 3. a resignation to gathering ‘whatever’ music as opposed to specific interests. These three needs are strategies for composition; they inform any tactic used to modulate the gathered sounds. The reference can maybe be thought of then as an unnamed conceptual space that these strategies share.

This can be imagined another way: events constituted by a series of ‘signals’ creating responses, chains, cascades, and is itself a temporary node of other signals. The referencing would happen directly in terms of the signal itself: the creative act, the event, work.

More casually, there are a set of references that function as refrains for us ‘when the giants speak in unison or the crowded bed cries’:

1. “How will this be archived?”
2. “Let’s try to get this done by…”
3. “We can resign to the fact that we have a particular sound without originating it…”
4. “Let’s stay productive without historical nihilism.”
5. “This is a pragmatic language, not a linguistic one.”

Modulation

Modulation of the signal is a complex thought, but our understanding of it occurs after one presumption: modulations are changes in circumstance. They are mutual. However, our designed relationship to modulation is one of influence and control. In order to signal conceptually— to reference— there must be changes in circumstance. Process, in these terms, is the modulation of signals as if they were references — ‘in-formation.’

In this piece, firstly, we modulate the set by gathering based on needs. Those needs may not sound agreeable with other’s needs, but this is the communism we deserve, no less. Secondly, we modulate their order, their auditory sequence. This isn’t planned as much as strewn, or cumulative. Modulating the signal means granting it different references. Thirdly, modulating the signal means mediating with something entirely different— synthesis— or pairing it with different orders— chamber music. Here, chamber music would be a pairing of one’s gatherings with that which comes outside of one’s needs. In this case, this means modular synthesis, M1, contact mics, bowls, clarinet reeds, delay units, etc.

Archive

The archive is a discovery of reference, while always a zone modified and in contact with realities: an individuated archive. The archive in this way can be understood not as the production or preservation of artifact, but as the recognition of organizing principles amid modification.

In this piece, there are aspects of archiving origin: sounds are doubled in a new space, a new file, preserved. However, they are also damaged and transformed, mediated through difference, through mismatched signals. Synthesis weathers the reference, but individuates something else entirely; a source re-signals elsewhere. The archive should be less the export of some final set of co-compositions, and instead be the various implications or references to a process situated in something seemingly structured, kept.

Ultimately, the archive can connect the unconnected and this should be taken to mean transduction; the archive transduces its dimension into individuations. This keeps the archive active, creative, and forgetful.