On Remoteness - editorial by Valentina Bonizzi
We work remotely.
In 2016 members of the editorial board of Mnemoscape Magazine were dislocated between Albania, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palestine, Poland and the United Kingdom. From our situated but precarious and temporary moorings, we observed the rising waves of nationalist, xenophobic populisms that swept Europe and the world. Walls are built or their construction is proudly announced. Anti-immigration laws make the day of demagogue politician whose popularity is on the rise. Closure of borders has become the new mot d'ordre.
I was in Antalya, in the South of Turkey, and Kelly was in Athens when this conversation began.
We were both working with sound, respectively in our artistic and curatorial practice. We started wondering what sounds can do, how they travel and how they are silenced, how they bind communities, how they divide them. Our wager was on what sounds can do politically – how they make a mockery out of the desire to block, split, close; how they swerve, deflect, move through matter. Sonic waves assume different pulses, speed and frequencies when they cross air or physical apparatuses, they transform our voice to make it sound alien to us. Sounds transverse humanly-built borders, reverberate through different bodies and confuse notions of distance and proximity, belonging and otherness, inside and outside. Broadcasted sounds move across space and bring what is far intimately close at hand. When re-played audio recordings of past events uncannily collapse temporal divides.
To be sure, remoteness is a multifarious concept.
In the nineteenth century Western explorers clad remoteness in exotic images of distant lands, entries in travel diaries and adventure stories; they tamed it in maps that served as tool of subjugation of the colonized Other. Remote are cultures whose values and tradition have become mute hieroglyphs to us. In wars, remote technologies are used to identify enemies or to struck targets at a distance – the new frontier of surgical violence and clinic murdering in drone warfares. New communication technologies and social networks have transformed remoteness into the ground of a massive participatory dialogue.
Working from an online platform, the notion of medium hybridity was a good choice for this editorial: someone calls it 'post-medium condition', others 'transmediality'. The idea of creating a ‘sound magazine’ took shape. By mixing the registers of the written and the spoken, the text that is edited and the babble that can't be undone, a ‘sound magazine’ seemed to offer a challenging and interesting paradox.
Issue #4 On Remoteness has established collaborations with a number of radios finding a different channel of distribution around which to explore the full implications of the politics of listening. The launch of the magazine will be followed by a series of radio interventions on Buchs’n Radio, Radio Arte Mobile and Radio Papesse…and more will follow.
In the context of On Remoteness, friendship becomes a responsible choice to take and intimacy a mediated contact in the curatorial practice of Alexandra Ross and Gayle Meikle (A Polyphonic Essay on Intimacy and Distance). Remote orders turn into bodily explorations (You are a Dancer by Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet). Private love letters are offered as a legacy to share (My Comrade My Love by Bisan Abu-Eisheh). Listening together enables the constitution of new public spheres in forms of 'social resounding' (Listening Space by Dispersed Holdings). The attempt to play a remote orchestra turns into a series of failed attempts while interferences, blockages and impaired mobility are discussed in their literal, political and metaphorical sense on the background of the occupation of Palestine (Remote Orchestra by Valentina Bonizzi).
Radio is a medium to use, explore and self-reflexively articulate. Offering a counterpoint to abstract notions of remoteness, in his interview with Alessandra Ferrini, Anton Kats speaks of his radio narrowcasts as a strategic mean to intervene within a localized situation of marginalization and precariousness (Radio Narrowcasts). Similarly, migrant undeclared workers find ways of getting their voice across through the self-organization of an independent radio (Radio Ghetto Relay by Alessandra Ferrini). The history of the clandestine activities of Radio Warszawa during World War II is explored by Sława Harasymowicz in gestures of re-enactment, translation and repetition (Radio On).
What is certain is that if one wants to hear something, s/he should listen closely and attentively. Marco Baldini, Daniela Fantechi and Michele Lanzini use the distance of different sound recordings - or listening positions - as an element of composition (Dystopic Listening). Disobedient Films and Jamie Perera invite us to tune our ears to the acoustic signs of a dying planet (Climate Symphony). Attention to neglected things unexpectedly gives rise to multiple narratives (JALFA, JERD by Elena Radice and Mattia Capelletti).
The instruction for the reader/listener of this magazine, is to wear headphones, put the volume up, and navigate unsafely in the waves of remote audio-pieces while reading the stories behind their creation.