I’m speaking to you from Provincetown, Massachusetts
— for Charles Bernstein
Longer, is reflected pool.
It is quite hard to do a poem.
Each experience of citations
is a re-articulation into something
that is more intensified.
is a chamber of intensification.
is a background fact.
Counting Each Step of the Sun
This volume explores the diverse set of intersections between the voice of or in a text, the voice during actual reading, vocalization and subvocalization processes, and the recorded voice. It features contributions that in some way problematize, displace and deconstruct any easy set of identifications and distinctions between these different vocal realms as well as those which seek to render possible mutations, hybridizations, points of indiscernability and crossovers between them.
The title of the proposed volume derives from an autobiographical story recounted by Allen Ginsberg in a BBC interview with Jeremy Andrews. Spending time in a friend’s New York apartment, Ginsberg tells Andrews how he experienced an aural hallucination in which William Blake recited his poem ‘Ah! Sunflower’ to him in a voice much like Ginsberg’s own yet distinctly different, emanating from his sternum. Ginsberg proceeds to recite the poem himself – ‘Ah! Sunflower, weary of time, who countest the steps of the sun, seeking after that sweet golden clime, where the travelers journey is done, where the youth pined away with desire, and the pale virgin shrouded in snow, arise from their graves and aspire, where my sunflower wishes to go.’ – bringing to mind his 1969 recording of the poem, performed accompanied by a small harmonium on top of the sound of which Ginsberg and others half recites, half sings Blake’s poem.
Although this present volume does not engage specifically with the work of Allen Ginsberg, nor that of William Blake, it does draw upon the interplay between voices in this story – that is, the interplay between the voice of or in Blake’s text, the peculiar voices in Ginsberg’s subvocalization-cum-aural hallucination, the voice of Ginsberg reading, the voice we find on the recording of Ginsberg singing, and the voice of Ginsberg recounting his story. On the basis of such interplay, we have been gathering contributions from poets, sound poets, musicians and artists whose current and/or past work we feel have in some way engaged with or intervened in this general field. Contributors have been encouraged to think and work with similar intersections and interstitial spaces in their own poetics, and/or in the work of others, producing text and sound pieces/collages using editing and remixing processes that in some way destabilize, displace and render uncertain any easy and comfortable distinction between these different vocal realms.
This volume collects the contributions we received and includes the work of Charles Bernstein, Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, Johannes Heldén, Kenneth Goldsmith, Lars-Gunnar Bodin and Danny Snelson.
From the Introduction:
‘It was a situation in which I was alone. I had had a love affair with Neal Cassady, and he had gone off and got married, and I thought abandoned me. Burroughs, who had been a close friend already for many years, was in New Orleans, and Kerouac had withdrawn to his house, and I was living in Harlem, East Harlem in New York, on the sixth floor of a tenement. There was a lot of theological books around. It was an apartment I had rented from a theology student and friend, so I was reading a lot of Plato’s Phaedrus, Saint John of the Cross, and other books. And Blake, and I had the sudden… Reading The Sick Rose and The Sun Flower, I had the odd sensation of hearing Blake’s voice outside of my own body. A voice really not too much unlike my own when my voice is centred in my sternum – maybe a latent projection of my own physiology – but in any case, a surprise and apparently, maybe a hallucination, you could call it, hearing it in the room, Blake reciting, or some very ancient voice reciting:
Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done:
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire;
Where my sunflower wishes to go.
So there was some earthen deep quality that moved me, and I looked out the window, and it seemed like the heavens were endless, or the sky was endless, I should say.’
Allen Ginsberg, Face to Face (BBC).
Counting Each Step of the Sun – In place of an editorial
In Edit Mode / Publication Studio Malmö [text]
Ah! Sunflower (New York, 12-15-69)
Allen Ginsberg [sound]
Ah! Sunflower (remix feat. Agnes Wästfelt)
Carl Lindh & Ola Ståhl [sound]
Caroline Bergvall [text]
Caroline Bergvall [sound]
The Bound Listener
Charles Bernstein [text]
Charles Bernstein [sound]
Charles Bernstein, transcribed by Danny Snelson [text]
Charles Bernstein [sound]
Charles Bernstein, transcribed and annotated by Carl Lindh, Ola Ståhl, & Peder Alexis Olsson [text]
Danny Snelson [sound]
Danny Snelson [sound]
Appendix: Bernstein Interviews
Ola Ståhl & Charles Bernstein [sound and text]
I design your eyes
Johannes Heldén [text]
Johannes Heldén [sound]
När cyborger versifierar
Christian Bök, translated by Ola Ståhl and Peder Alexis Olsson [text]
Motorized Razors (from The Cyborg Opera, Segue Readings, New York, 5-19-01)
Christian Bök [sound]
Mushroom Clouds (from The Cyborg Opera, Segue Reading, New York, 5-19-01)
Christian Bök [sound]
PAROLE IN LIBERTÀ – Att komponera med ord
Lars-Gunnar Bodin [text]
The Harlem Riot: A Study in Mass Frustration
Kenneth Goldsmith [text]
Chinese Whispers is an edition based on the children’s game with which it shares its name. A voice recording of a whispered word chosen by the editors of the volume was passed on to an initial contributor who was asked to work with the recording, the sound itself as well as its transcription, and produce a sound- and text-based contribution to the volume. Additionally, our initial contributor was asked to pick a subsequent contributor to the series and make another sound recording of the whispered word for this person to work with. We set out to allow this process to continue until we reached a point where we had six confirmed contributors to the volume, each of which had agreed to produce an individual edition containing a CD and various forms of printed matter.
The resulting volume is a box-set containing six separate contributions that share the same format and are interlinked by the gradual mutation and disintegration of the original word recorded which remains the undisclosed basis of volume in its entirety.
Contributors: Neil Chapman, Jill Magi, Sissu Tarka, Uriel Orlow, Brendan Fernandes and Jaanika Peerna.
From the introduction:
… (broken) telephone, grapevine, whisper down the lane, gossip, secret message, le téléphone arabe, stille post, gioco del telefono, telefono senza fili, telefone sem fio, głuchy telefon, pass the message, viskleken…
‘The sinophobic [British] name [Chinese Whispers] points to the centuries-old tradition in Europe of representing spoken Chinese as an incomprehensible and unpronounceable combination of sounds.’
Here’s how it’s done: A first participant whispers a phrase or sentence to a subsequent participant. Each participant then proceeds to successively whisper what he or she believes him- or herself to have heard to the next participant. At the end of each round of the game, the last participant announces the statement to the entire group.
In initiating the process behind this current publication, the chosen word was entirely nonsensical, composed from fragments of words extracted from the damaged label of a beer bottle, whispered and recorded as a digital file, run through a distorting filter, and passed on to our first contributor who was asked to work with the recording – the sound itself as well as its transcription – to produce a sound- and text based contribution to the volume and, additionally, to solicit a subsequent participant to the series, make another sound recording of the whispered word, and pass this on to the chosen participant.
Errors often accumulate in the process, so that the statement announced by the last participant differs significantly from the one originally whispered by the first participant.
The resulting volume contains six separate contributions interlinked by the gradual mutation and disintegration of the original word recorded. Contributors to the Chinese Whispers volume include Neil Chapman, Jill Magi, Sissu Tarka, Uriel Orlow, Brendan Fernandes and Jaanika Peerna.
There is no winner to the game. Amusement is derived by the comparison of the original and the final messages.
In Edit Mode /
Publication Studio Malmö, 2011
 Ballaster, Ros, Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England, 1662–1785 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 202-3.
Local Colour; Ghosts, variations
In collaboration with Canadian poet Derek Beaulieu, Malmö-based publishing imprint In Edit Mode now presents Local Colour : Ghosts, variations. The collection takes as its point of departure Paul Auster’s novella Ghosts, and Beaulieu’s reworking of Auster’s text, Local Colour. It invites a number of writers, poets, musicians and artists to contribute with further reworkings, intermedial translations and editing projects exploring various intersections between Auster’s text and Beaulieu’s graphic interpretation. The resulting volume consists of four bound volumes, a series of pamphlets and prints, an audio-CD, a piece of computer software, and a music box.
INTRODUCTION I: LOCAL COLOUR
Much as the Victorian novel A Human Document gave rise to Tom Phillips’ ongoing graphic interpretation A Humument, I have been concentrating on booklength interpretations of the graphic possibilities of a text without text. Local Colour is a page-by-page interpretation of Paul Auster’s 72-page novella Ghosts. Ghosts concerns itself with Blue, a private detective hired by a mysterious character named White to transcribe the actions of Black, a denizen of Brooklyn Heights living on Orange Street. As Blue reports his findings, the reader becomes more aware of the intricate relationship between Black and White, and a tactile awareness of the role of colour spreads through the narrative. With Local Colour, I have removed the entirety of Auster’s text, leaving only chromatic words -proper nouns or not – spread across the page as dollops of paint on a palette. Taking inspiration from Kenneth Goldsmith’s Gertrude Stein on Punctuation (Abaton Books, 2000) what remains is the written equivalent of ambient music – words which are meant to seen but not read. The colours, through repetition, build a suspense and crescendo which is loosened from traditional narrative into a more pixellated construction.
Brief excerpts from Local Colour were previously published by No Press, Tonerworks and Nietzsche’s Brolly and in Pist Protta (Denmark). Excerpts have also appeared online at Sous Rature, Abstract Comics: the Blog and Trickhouse. Two excerpts are featured in the anthology October is Dada Month: The Complete Nietzsche’s Brolly Broadsheets (Imago, 2008). Local Colour was included in the exhibition Less is More: The Poetics of Erasure (curated by Bill Jeffries) at Simon Fraser University Gallery, the exhibition’s catalogue and the accompanying issue of The Capilano Review.
An addition, accompanying piece was featured as the cover image for Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith’s anthology Against Expression (Northwestern UP, 2010). Local Colour was also briefly available (and now out of print) in a print-on-demand edition (ntamo, 2008).
I owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Barwin, Christian Bök, Craig Dworkin, Chris Ewart, Robert Fitterman, Kenneth Goldsmith, Helen Hajnoczky, Kristen Ingram, Bill Kennedy, kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Simon Morris, Sina Queyras, Nick Thurston, Darren Wershler and Eric Zboya. Thank you also to Paul Auster.
INTRODUCTION II : GHOSTS, VARIATIONS
LOCAL COLOUR : Ghosts, variations is a collaboration between In Edit Mode Press and Canadian poet Derek Beaulieu. The publication takes as its point of departure, Paul Auster’s novella Ghosts, and, in particular, Derek Beaulieu’s reworking of Auster’s text, Local Colour. Focusing on the tension created in Beaulieu’s manuscript between the textual narrative and the graphical mark, and the opening it seems to provide toward a realm of intermediality and experimentation, we have solicited a series of textual, aural, oral, musical, and other interpretations, as well as more machinic ‘utilisations,’ of Beaulieu’s manuscript. What interests us, in particular, is the way in which Local Colour seems to split Auster’s narrative text open, deterritorialising it by rendering it graphical and freeing it up, by the same gesture, to a potential excess of meaning. Seeking to extend and amplify this ambitious project, what we attempt with this volume, is to open Beaulieu’s project up for others to split open. We seek to deterritorialise the coloured rectangles of his manuscript – in every sense a violent yet affirmative gesture – and explore the horizons toward which such violence might take us. In doing so, Local Colour: Ghosts, variations collects and counterposes a wide array of strategies and approaches. It is an ambitious, vigorous collection that oscillates and moves between textual narrative, graphical mark, and aural impression, exploring these different realms while rendering uncertain any easy distinction between them.
We would like to express our gratitude, first and foremost, to those who have so kindly contributed work to the volume. We would also like to thank The Office of Contemporary Art Norway, Signal – Center for Contemporary Art, Kulturföreningen Ystadvägen 13, and Citytryckeriet.
– Ola Ståhl & Carl Lindh / In Edit Mode / Publication Studio
DEREK BEAULIEU & IN EDIT MODE / PUBLICATION STUDIO MALMÖ
MARTIN GLAZ SERUP
PEDER ALEXIS OLSSON
UNTITLED 1 & 2
COLOUR’S GRAVITY( multicoloured paper strip)
CONTENTS CD 1:
IN EDIT MODE / PUBLICATION STUDIO MALMÖ
GHOSTS ( MUSIC BOX ) ( 18: 19 )
LOCAL COLOUR PAGE 33 INTERPRETED 121101 AT SOLDINER STR 3, WEDDING, BERLIN ( 9:59 )
I use white noise and silence as my sound sources, and allow the differences, in the CMYK system, between white and other colours effect the pitch of the sound: White means no pitch modification at all and black means maximum upward pitch modification. The white page is interpreted as a pause. The piece doesn’t have a fixed duration but there is a correlation between the size of the page and the duration of the piece.
CECILIE BJØRGÅS JORDHEIM
FIRST OF ALL THERE IS BLUE ( 3 MOVEMENTS ) ( 1: 47, 1: 27, 00: 39 )
Performed by bass player Per Zanussi and vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, my piece consists of three movements based on Paul Auster’s novella Ghosts. In the work, I isolate the letters in Auster’s text that correspond to the names of musical tones (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). These are then used in for a score where they indicate pitch and where the number of characters between each of the letters indicate duration. The first movement – First of All There is Blue – is based on Auster’s text in the original English. The second and third movements – Brown and I got Ham and Blue and White (This Section Includes Education) – are based on the same text transformed by a series of Google translations.
(Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim)
SPECTRAL QUANTUM ( 5: 17 )
Spectral Quantum is a cello-based sound piece based on the quantitative properties of Beaulieu’s manuscript Local Colour. From the sum of occurrences of the four main colour terms in the narrative is derived a number series, ordered by each colour’s location in the electromagnetic spectrum: 3, 12, 5, 9. By treating this series as the strict basis for harmonic intervals, periodicity and dynamic progression, my piece explores a transgressional form of intertextuality which aims to hold up a mirror to the arbitrariness and absurdity of quantitative representation and its privileged place in the human condition.
VOICE RANGE, DIALECT, GENRE ( 4: 24 )
When I first saw the manuscript Local Colour I imagined my reworking of the piece would result in something like a cloud or a cascade of sound. However, I wanted to arrive there by approximation – taking cues from the manuscript without acting out an algorithm in a mathematical, absolute sense. I then remembered an experiment I undertook about twenty years ago. In hindsight I realize what I made was simply a ‘manual’ time stretch or granular synthesis, but I knew nothing of that at the time. Using an audio sampler, I triggered a voice sample with a shower of ‘note on’ commands. The sample was set to a very short release time, so only a fraction of the sound was heard each time it was triggered. Moving the sample start point, I got the curious sensation that I was holding the sound in my hands like a lump of dough, moulding it, stretching it.
In order to have some sound material to work with I sought out the audio book version of Paul Auster’s Ghosts. The version I purchased was copy protected, which meant I had to re-record the piece in order to be able to work with it. From the resulting recording, I cut out the colour words (BLACK, BLUE, WHITE, BROWN, ORANGE, GREY, GREEN, GOLD, RED, ROSE). I then set-up the manual time stretch described above, mapping trigger rate, sample start point and sample release time to physical controls. Using this set up, I proceeded to ‘play’ Beaulieu’s Local Colour, as if the manuscript was a piece of sheet music, colour by colour, letting the number of occurrences decide the general intensity and presence of each sound sample, and determining the duration of the piece by dividing the total length of the audio book by the number of spreads in Beaulieu’s manuscript.
The narrator of the audio book I used, is a voice actor named Joe Barrett (although the info embedded in the sound file credits a Christian Rummel). In his on-line profile, Joe Barrett lists the following skills:
Voice Range: Teen, 20s-30s, Middle Age, Senior
Dialects: American English, British English, American South, Asian, Canadian, Cockney, French, German, Indian, Irish, Middle Eastern, Midwest, New York, Scottish, South American, Yorkshire, Maine/Boston, Southwestern, California, Long Island Lock-jaw, Maine/Boston, Southwestern, California
Genres: Children’s, Comedy, Drama, Mystery/Suspense, Nonfiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Western
Two more remarks: First, I made several ‘timing mistakes’ in my performance which I did not try to correct. And second, to listen to the audio book of Ghosts and simultaneously try to follow the sequence of coloured bars which make up Beaulieu’s manuscript is a very strange experience.
LOCAL GHOSTS ( 9: 32 )
LOCAL COLOUR ( 5: 29 )
In order to derive a score from Derek Beaulieu’s Local Colour, I superimposed a grid on top of each page. The vertical position of each rectangle represents time: 14 beats per page. Pitch is represented by left to right. The semitones in the octave are labelled from 0-12. Timbre is represented by colour. For example, blue is the saxophone, black, the electric bass.
In writing the piece, I wanted to keep close to the representation of the novel, while at the same time, giving some musical direction as it progresses. In many instances, the original represents the temporal point of each note and its length. However, some instruments include processing such as echo and reverb. Further, rhythm variety was created by interpreting rectangles that overlap the grid by multiple pitches (sixteenth notes or simultaneities.) Likewise, when there exists two rectangles in the same temporal position.
Finally, in order to create some shape as the piece progresses – balancing conceptual purity with musical development – the score increasingly assigns the various pitches to greater and greater pitch intervals. So, instead of a semitone between C and C#, adjacent pitches might be interpreted as a low C and a C# in the next octave, i.e. a minor ninth.
CONTENTS CD 2:
MAGDA TYZLIK-CARVER & ANDY PRIOR
GHOST MACHINE: INVOCATION OF CONTINGENT OTHERS
MAGDA TYZLIK-CARVER & ANDY PRIOR
GHOST MACHINE (read me)
MAGDA TYZLIK-CARVER & ANDY PRIOR
GHOST MACHINE (video)
MAGDA TYZLIK-CARVER & ANDY PRIOR
GHOST MACHINE 1.0 (software)
Download a pdf / mp3 version of ‘Local Colour’ here.