Like Falling out of Trees into Collectors Albums – Patrick Farmer and the field.
“With no small case of uncertainty or elation, in equal measures all pertaining to all that they pertain, I attached microphones to the bamboo, recorded, stepped backwards, a number of everything’s occurring, in apparent nothings. The opening recording, a peculiarity of sole spontaneity. Though how far spontaneity stretches when recording equipment is ensconced in the boot of my car I neither know nor will know. Running down to the shoreline, I listen to this recording; I see it in my face as with the rest. Familiar feelings are felt of glee matched of familiar feelings of fleeting lamentation drenched in its own bodily absurdity, or arriving much too late, of having missed much, of such feelings passing lest they take me with them round of round, saying these feelings will pass, always pass saying there is no need and they will pass.
What does a DC of three flattened auditory replications of three environments bring? I do not know. They are three stretched beneath the ears as parallel visual associations, they are an awareness of listening to one method of one whom is surrounded in another surrounding entirely, sharing being surrounded, a world, they are, it could be said, a comment, comment upon them, they comment upon, in no particular order.” Patrick Farmer
This is a slice of the liner notes in Patrick Farmer’s beautiful series of field recordings taken up on 2009, released through Consumer Waste in 2011. AS regular readers of this blog know, I like to read what the artists wants to convey. I do want my “own” experience of the sounds, but I am also interested in listening as an act of collaboration. This means I am not a sycophantic listener but rather a hearer who treats her listening as if it were an instrument in itself. However, I don’t read Farmer’s notes here as a call to action or a request for collaboration. I see this more as a hope for transcendence (strictly in the Kantian sense of object knowledge out side of knowing about object) or a deep engaging in the possibility of every moment. There are three recordings on this lovely disc. The first is entitled Stood for thirty minutes, before the picture without moving which is the frozen surface of a pool dissolving in aeolian layers. Then there is this:
The above recording is called Still this is not, of air and hours. This is the almost completely unedited sound of overhead power lines recorded through a wire fence. For Patrick Farmer, this is the sound of a moment. Not a moment in time, a moment out of time. A moment out of context in any shape or form. It doesn’t signify anything that one doesn’t already know, if by that one is simply referencing to the repetition of a sound in its complement, and if by so doing, one avoids bringing to bear upon it an interpretation that would distinguish between the two ways of knowing – as object and as defined by its context. It is beyond its own moment – this sound is a way of knowing past what we have a definitive language for. A symbol for. In short, it is a secret, almost, but not quite revealed in the pause to capture this particular moment.
A secret always makes you tremble. This is recording of the trembling of a secret being revealed. Secrets don’t just make you quiver, or shiver – which can also happen – but they make you tremble. A tremble is not a quiver. A quiver is a light response to a certain kind of horror or pleasure that sits just at the surface level of the skin. It dances light on the condition of being. A tremble reaches a different place. It has the sign or signal of the earthquake, the implication that it can transform. Trembling is not preliminary, it is a response to a kind of knowing.
The above track is called You through all things I hear, the kindness of chance. It is the sound of a wasp stripping the inside of a bamboo cane for a nest. Even more so than the tracks that went before it, this is a moment of revelation of a secret. A moment to tremble. Even if one thinks one knows what is going to happen , the new instant, the arriving of that arrival remains untouched, still inaccessible, in fact unlivable. In the repetition of what still remains unpredictable we tremble against the intensity and the shock of the recorded moment. We tremble from not knowing in the form of a double secret, whether it is going to continue, start again, insist, be repeated: whether it will, how it will, where, when; and why this tremble. Farmer confesses in his notes that he feels like an interloper and not an interloper on the microcosmic universes he captures passing on to us the same momentary shock.
To badly paraphrase Derridean double speak, I tremble in the face of the secrets Farmer lays at my feet both because I am afraid of the enormity of all they contain and also because the recording exceeds my seeing and my knowing although it concerns the innermost parts of me, right down to my soul, down to the bone as we say. Inasmuch as it tends to undo both seeing and knowing, my trembling is a response to the experience of the mystery or the secrecy or the enigma come to overlay the unlivable experience. I conceal these micro worlds from myself because I can’t bear the depth and the tumultuous endlessness of the vastness around me.
This is my attempt to explain why something so simple can touch so deeply.
Like Falling Out Of Trees Into Collectors Albums is available from the good folk at Consumer Waste here.