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A conversation with Annea Lockwood and an insect population that is collapsing

As part of Rewire’s context programme, artist and writer Salomé Voegelin will enter into a conversation with artist in focus Annea Lockwood on Saturday April 6th. In preparation, Salomé Voegelin introduces and ponders on their upcoming conversation.

How do you prepare for a conversation when you do not want to get to a known place together. When you do not want it to simply and neatly describe the aims and methods of a composer’s work, their historical and contemporary context and significance. But when you want to make the compositional and sonic processes of their working available as in accessible to yourself and the audience so that their consequences can reach beyond music. Where it is not about finding and thus staging and framing the work and the artist but “un-finding” them in the sense that Clarice Lispector does when she has the courage to be ‘guided by the unknown and toward the unknown’ (The Passion According to G.H., 2012, p. 9). Opening in conversation a place of listening that does not expect to hear but listens even more until listening becomes a form of creation, generating a reality that is not the sight of mute language, the translation of a pre-thought world, but a portal into its sonic and musical materialisations - what it does as sound - invisibly, indivisibly the possibility of everything, without reference. Where we experience the work as world, on the body, as a body with other human and more-human bodies, together, in an ecology of practice that does not run parallel, illustratively and in mimickry of the visual, but where it opens a completely different register and possibility for how it could be seen.

Such a conversation as a journey of un-finding is what I hope to engage in with Annea Lockwood, whose work makes music but does so otherwise. Not in defiance of the category, but by doing the category differently and without rules or expectations. I hope to share her thinking, to appreciate the urgency of her works such as The Vanishing Point 2021 (about the collapse of the insect population, with Yarn/Wire) not only semantically, as concept and partitur, and in relation to music, but to understand how sound communicates beyond language the unimaginable consequences of a current not listening, and whether an auditory knowing might carry us into action. Maybe together we could unfind the tentative frames of an auditory environmental aesthetics that is not guided by the seen towards beauty, horror, and awe, but works with affects, absences and fragmentations toward an embedded and applied acoustic ecology that does not see the environment, but our being a part of it - made from the same stuff. I would like to jointly approach the spatial imaginary of her sonic works to understand what they might yield, as sensibility and competence to transform our spatial imaginary off-music, in the everyday. Can we gain a contemporary ear that is entangled with insects, rivers, breath and politics?

In the context of this unfinding together I am also curious about her approach to collaboration, given that we cannot know what the other hears; that it remains forever unknown, imagined only, conjured from the inaudible or simply disregarded. I hope to negotiate in conversation and through her work the fact that we cannot rely on a common auditory reality (which visually we like to pretend we can, despite its obvious deceit). And what that might mean in relation to social and political realities, and also the making of music. Thus I want to ponder with her what the Burning Piano 1968 incinerates today, and how sound manages to access the politics of political impossibilities (History of the Present, 2023, Maria Fusco, Maragret Salmon and Annea Lockwood), and whether we can become air together (Becoming Air, with Nate Wooley 2021).

Salomé Voegelin is a researcher and practitioner, who works from the relational logic of sound to focus on the in-between and the liminal, where feminist, decolonial, and postanthropocentric realities can engender different and plural knowledge possibilities. She writes articles and papers, books and texts and text-scores for performance and publication. Her most recent book Uncurating Sound: Knowledge with Voice and Hands, 2023, moves curation through the double negative of not not to ‘uncuration’: untethering knowledge from the expectations of reference and a canonical frame, and reconsidering art as political not in its message or aim, but by the way it confronts the institution. Voegelin is a Professor of Sound at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.