…backwards is the way forward:

“All is flux”—Heraclitus
“Everything’s fucked”—Dirty Three

Everything is undergoing some form of displacement: we know this, but we often resist it. Perhaps the unending procession of human displacement shades our understanding, or possibly our own mortal journey itself. Conversely, DisplacementActivities, as a personal method, is not an avoidance of, but an engagement with this hidden reality touching all aspects of Being—as Heraclitus noted two and a half thousand years ago. The ‘hidden reality’ need not be mystical, it is readily present; perhaps it can be likened to the unseen atoms and molecules colliding with particles that are visible under a standard microscope, as in Brownian motion. The random walks of the larger particles may be explained by sub-microscopic nudging. Similarly, in the hallowed realms of Deep Inner Peace and Stillness, we might become aware of a sudden temporary absence of DisplacementActivities—in the same way we might notice the whirring of an air conditioning system falling silent, when we weren’t previously conscious of it at all. In the sound world, this phenomenon is called ‘remanence’ (Jean-François Augoyard, 2005). Within this liminal domain, the method of DisplacementActivities thrives as a form of knowing or, more precisely, unknowing.

Pursuing this approach, my main modes of practice oscillate between sound, text and performance. These modes are often combined, glued together by images or symbols. Alongside this, walking is a constant and productive inspiration. Around 1999, I began to focus on location-based ambulant sound as a form of memory, and this began to shape a lot of my subsequent activity. Examples of this work are my series of DisplacementActivities, a form of trans-locational performance, and work more recent on Sounds of Teotihuacan, a calmer form of GPS-based acoustic archaeology.

A key aspect of sound that I have found endlessly provocative is its ability to penetrate deeply while remaining fleeting. Periodic ritual walking echoes this quality by heightening our awareness of Deep Time as an infinitesimal process experienced constantly yet seldom noticed. Ultimately, an openness to small variations within a vast ongoing improvisation is all that is necessary. Listen, and ye shall find!

Politics is most likely immanent in any art form, but particularly in one that engages with boundaries and edges, improvising freely with both human and non-human forms of obstruction. Tiny movements have the potential to be revolutionary—persistence of direction pervading through oscillation, akin to Henri Lefebvre’s ‘moments’.

Martin Shaw has referred to a ‘True North in my heart’ that appears to be a form of Deep Morality conjured from the depths of biological and geological time. Several exceptional artists discovered their True North early on in life, giving acute focus to their work from an early stage. Not quite so for me, although it should have been obvious that sound would be involved somehow, see here. I seem to have wobbled around Magnetic North for most of the time, but my navigational skills have improved a little since I worked out the difference between Magnetic and True North. To this end, experimental sound remains central, and a text such as this is probably drifting towards Grid North.

Waves image

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