Beyond Silence (a bell rings in an empty sky)

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Helen Frosi and I have been speaking about working with other for yonks and yonks, and now, well, we have, though it feels like we’ve barely gotten started.

As part of Danny McCarthy’s new show, ‘Beyond Silence’, he asked us to contribute to a publication; alongside texts by David Toop, El Putnam, and Sarah Hayden. We contributed ‘Nine Skies’, nine e mails sent back and forth between Helen and myself, gumping from the shape of language to the death of clouds to pareidolia to Mikio Naruse to white poplar catkins.

Excerpts below:


Dear Patrick

You’ve reminded me of the cleaner in the balloon who Jeanette Winterson writes about in Sexing The Cherry. She cleans up the colourful conversations of people throughout the day with her old mop; sweeps sonnets into wooden boxes as gifts. Imagine what kind of cumulonimbuses (or is that cumulonimbi?) of noise we each make each week, let alone in a lifetime? A thundering, dark mass of sighs, profanity and mundanities undulating and pulsing in a muddy soup of colour.

Sometimes containment is a gift–as with the boxed sonnet–as it focuses the task in hand, opens up the mind to work around restriction. I’m currently fixing up my studio, drilling the walls and battening acoustic material to reduce sound filtering in from elsewhere, so I might work on my own sound works or, head there for a moment of quiet when being outdoors is too much stimuli. The space has one wired glass window, high up so I get a good view of the sky and sounds without origin flow in when I release the metal latch. They too seem coloured by the world outside. Once the curtains are up I get the feeling I’m going to be inside a room-sided magic lantern, that at certain times the world outside will project itself on me, upside down. That may well be fanciful thinking, but I’m sure I’ll learn to tell the time of day by the colour and amount of light that falls through the window’s aperture, and the variety of sounds that also penetrate. 


Dear Helen

Being as clouds are primarily composed of water droplets, and as you say, your world is but windows and onlooking walls, at least that means you don’t have to inhale damp, no matter how much you may wish to induce it. I imagine you waking up of a morning and planting your feet in calcareous ooze flecked with red algae that is putting out rose clouds, as if your ear had drained onto the floor through the night. 

Cloud report (09 April):

Throughout the day the sky was blue except for squinting, wherein a bumble bee takes up the proportion, so I watched Miko Naruse’s Scattered Clouds, also translated as Two in the Shadow. My attention waned in the task I initially set for myself as a satellite, I only counted two clouds in the film, though there were many shadows and strange noises as the two protagonists constantly came together in order to part. I feel the shadows of this film, moving like clouds over a hill, could be interpreted as shades, or umbrae, which is Latin for both ‘shadows’ and ‘ghosts’. The two protagonists revolve around a singular event, where Mishima accidentally kills the husband of Yumiko, with many exits. The lingering umbrae of the film slowly reveal themselves as we observe Mishima and Yumiko trapped in limbo, moving, not so much back and forth, but with the wind. The clouds that cast shadows are often dispersed by storms, and in the ionised atmosphere of the repose we see them dance and forget, but they are always dying of love, and a shade, a past place, inevitably returns. 


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