this sound collage was composed to accompany mandy katz's, 'occult philadelphia revealed', which was on display at the traction company, philadelphia, from june-september 2013.
katz's show focused on the hidden life of the neighborhood she lives in--she studied the area's natural history and the lives of some of it's activities, artists, and scientists. katz thematically compiled a collecton of articles and images reflection the obscured and overlooked pieces of history and shared them with her collaborators (elliott harvey, angela vitacolonna, & poet, kia hayes)
to see some of katz's profound and magical visual work, go here: www.flickr.com/photos/mandykatz/
to read more about the show, go here:
STATEMENT ON 'HEXTINCTION'
by harvey & vitacolonna
layering field recordings, found sounds, and nose experiments, the piece is inspired by the histories remembered in mandy's work--calling attention to the extinction and eradication of animals and ecosystems, as well as the loss of living voices and ancient wisdoms.
we compiled recordings instinctively, rather than intentionally. after compilng sounds, in our process of sequencing, we discovered the theme most present for us: the progression toward the degradation and corruption of natural origins. these fragments juxtapose natural sounds and mechanized distortion, with the entire piece taking a linear, sonic-narrative form.
following is a run through of the piece, including origins of and reflections on each movement.
-the collage begins with the sounds of seeds shaking in their pods over an autoharp mimicking raindrops. the seeds remind us of the microcosmic beginnings of pollination, and of the wonder of this natural process, wild herbs, plant medicine, the curiosity of the botanists.
-the next sound is our feet sloshing in the shallow grey water through clay at the edge of the atlantic ocean. we hiked 6 miles to get to this place and slept under the full moon. when we walked we remembered the 9,000 mile voyage of the lenni lenape, their trek over thousands of years walking from their ancestral home near the mongolia-russia border to the atlantic ocean, their feet finally reaching the water. we included feedback in this track. hearing it makes us think of whales and wind. it's gentle in a way, but simultaneously eerily muddles the landscape with danger. this section also remarks on the forgotten and covered-over wetlands in west philadelphia.
-the music that follows is a reference to the loss of folklore and superstition. the recording is of the tapiola children's choir performing "stabat mater" by pergolesi. the choir consists of many children from finland who had their first fingernails buried at the foot of an ash tree, in accordance with the finnish superstition which states that if this is done, the child will possess a beautiful voice for song.
the child's monologue, which is overdubbed on the choir, is meant to remember the children lost in the MOVE bombing.
-the next section is a recording of water being poured from one glass into another, wolves howling, and a bowed trombone. the water from glass to glass is a(n abstract) representation of the water as a resource, its increasing scarcity. the wolves and their cacophony speak to secret language and lost wilderness, as well as the energies of protest, rage, celebration, and resistance in the spirit of kathy change and the RNC puppet outlaws; we considered using human voices, but the power of the wolf's combined noises felt more potent.
-the fragments that follow, the telegraph, the gunshots, the sounds of pigeons flocking, the freight train, and the narrative of the hunter, all gather around the history concerning the extinction of the passenger pigeons. the telegraph is a morse code recording of coleridge's kubla khan, a poem about a vision communicating the disparity between a mythical land and tyranny that threatens it.
-we recorded the insects and bullfrogs while hiking through swamplands, during which we were interrupted by the sound of a looming airplane.
-the conclusion of the collage culminates with a few distorted recitations of some of the previously introduced components. the difference in sound was created by our initial attempt to digitize the analog recordings. this final section is blown-out in comparison to the prior content. the introduction of bees swarming the children's choir create a dramatic frenzy reminding us of lost voices; the corrupt version of the seed-sounds acknowledge the patented and genetic modification of seeds.