Medium: Immersive Binaural Stereo Composition, 6,32”
Composed by: Selma Boskailo & Anders Ehlin, 2020
*** Please listen in headphones for full spatial experience ***
In his book L'invention du quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life), Michel de Certeau opposes the idea of reading as a passive act. Instead of viewing it as an assimilation to an imposed “system of verbal and iconic signs,” he considers it a way to invent “in texts something different from what they intended.” Reading then becomes an act of creation in which the reader can leave his mark and allow an indefinite plurality of meanings.
Framburðar Örðugleikar (Icelandic for ”Pronunciation Difficulties”) takes this as its starting point in a piece where the two artists not only challenge the notion of the active reader by reciting Icelandic poetry without actually understanding any of the words, but also delve into the cognitively driven gradients of (re-)interpretation, based on the grouping of largely previously unheard phonemes and syllables. Are we as readers, as de Certeau suggests, indeed co-authors of messaging in a state of constant flux?
Echoing Marxist language analyst Valentin Volosinov’s firm statement that ”life begins only at the point where utterance crosses utterance”, the artists resurrect the Icelandic poem by actively creating a bond across time-space with the original author. They create a feedback loop of sorts, where the written word gets reinterpreted based on its phonetic merits, then transformed into the ephemeral state of the spoken word, only to be frozen in time once again by the recording medium. Utilising binaural spatialisation as an compositional tool, they use juxtaposed field recordings of outside and inside to mirror the constant communicative renegotiation between sender and receiver, and to spatially explore the in-between of human interaction, eventually merging into a coexisting state of equal amounts of indistinction and potential.