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1.
This is an essay that begins with this sentence. This is a text written by me and read by you. This is a group of words that begin after a period and end before another period. This is an essay that is not an essay except in the places where it borrows from other essays I've written for past or upcoming publications. This is a series of words that follow the confusing confession of the preceding words. This is a block of text comprised of reflexive and reflective sentences. This is a statement that need not be repeated. This is is not quite a phrase that begins every sentence. This is not this was nor this way, but a stilled pointer that points to itself. This is not this. This is a sentence that was sentenced.

2.
Disintegrating, reintegrating, revolving, turning. Transmitting semblances and analog warblings from a different era. Ready to derail, plaintive, foreboding, pitch tilts, guttural gurgles, animalistic stutterances. Loops upon loops, becoming the same as they become other, becoming other as they no longer come to be sane. Resemblance through trembling tape. Recognize the call, as the whistle fades into the morass of analog infidelity.

3.
I have knobby knees and a ribcage was a descriptive phrase I used to include in my bio years ago when I was primarily active in radio. Somehow the materiality of the flesh (well, the skeletal would be more precise) felt necessary to name, as a reminder of the remainder amidst the ethereal waves. Ryan Park's lengthy piece seemingly exhausts all the possible connections between the two of you, us two, them two. Your chest, my stomach / My head, your throat / My hip, your hair / My armpit, your mouth / Your nose, my heel / My shoulder, your nose / Your thigh, my hand / Your wrist, my elbow / ... Two times two, multiplying pairs. Patches, patchbay, patchords—patchords making patches into a patchbay—lubricated by textual tissue. Connect contexts. The fact of matters of fact.

4.
Slow and methodical musicalized breathing. Plongeurs (divers) is the audio recording of an installation called Flying School. To dive into flight. Two contradictory actions. Plunging upward. They must still be learning. They look and listen to each other. They learn by copying and syncing. The accordions mimic and musicalize our breaths. We hear the room. We hear the machines, their whirr, their hum. They are us on idle. They are like us, but on idle. Down to the basics—involuntary muscle movement, all normal, the modulated lunging of lungs.

5.
Technology can choose a genuinely human temporality only if it chooses to read a certain grace of poetry, a listening to finitude more truthful than technology’s disassemblage of space-time.(1)
- Avital Ronell

Repetition entangles recording, or is it that recording enables repetition? Both complicate performance in myriad ways; the ontological and phenomenological implications that Ronell addresses point to some of the resulting complexities. For her, poetics would seem to counteract the dangers or temptations of immortality; yet the ineffable permeates poetry and what could be more enduring than the inexpressible? Kelly Mark's 2002 audio work I Really Should... is an anaphoric list of (broken) promises she incants in a style forsaking histrionics. On one hand they are uttered in a relaxed manner, on the other, they come at you in a relentless staccato—like an extended telegram that shorthands a life. I Really Should... is a recurring accounting of the disparity between an actual life lived and an endless set of idealized selves. Mark describes the piece as a lighthearted study on procrastination, and it certainly has that deadpan disposition but the juxtaposition between mundane entries (I really should eat more bran) and momentous ones (I really should be faithful to my ideals), between retrospective ones (I really should have used a pencil) and far fetched ones (I really should become a spokesperson for my generation) speak poignantly to a form of autobiography that foregoes the factual and linear in favor of a monotone ode. What underlines the use of the repeated modal auxiliary verb is the presumption that she really does not ...connect more with my family, ...listen to more jazz, ...make better choices in my life. The string of wishes remaining unfulfilled constitute a solipsistic version of a Don Juan performance—in other words, the failed promises are made to herself.(2) But it would be a mistake to interpret the 'I' of I Really Should... as being solely Mark's, the 'I' should be multiplied by at least as many as the one thousand entries of this audio work, if not more. Since the self-absorption is an artifice here, the piece reflectively activates a plural function—the 'I' is 'we'.

6.
[T]he breath does not enter a void but pushes the adjacent body from its seat; and the body thus displaced drives out in turn the next; and by this law of necessity every such body is driven round towards the seat from which the breath went out and enters therein, filling it up and following the breath; and all this takes place as one simultaneous process, like a revolving wheel, because no void exists.(3)
- Plato


Breathing Room (1990) by Hildegard Westerkamp is an electroacoustic composition that functions as an exemplar of breath's interior/exterior, input/output, individual/collective rhythmicity. She uses her breathing as structuring device to fade in and out the environmental sounds thereby rendering the somatic porous in between the silent punctuations. The body is not solitary but mingled with the outside in all of its heterogeneity. Earlier in the Timaeus than the aforementioned section on breath, Plato introduces the much discussed term chora which one can attempt to describe but remains indescribable, can determine only as undetermined, can define best as undefinable. Elisabeth Grosz speaks of it as "the condition for the genesis of the material world."(4) So it precedes and makes possible. Yet it also functions as a marker of excess, as Adriana Cavarero phrases it, "the chora not only exceeds the symbolic but also ends up being necessary to the productive work of the symbolic itself."(5) Julia Kristeva, in turn, chora is "indifferent to language, enigmatic and feminine; this space underlying the written is rhythmic, unfettered, irreducible to its intelligible verbal translation; it is musical, anterior to judgment."(6) The reason for this foray into the chora is that I would like to posit the breath as an instantiation of the chora (perhaps even the sole one). At least a physio-poetic rendition of breath—both concept and action—one boundless rather than one delimited by mere survival. In other words, in excess of life, but (in keeping with the chora) necessary for it. Westerkamp's Breathing Room rhythms breath in such a way that it encompasses both spatial and temporal parameters, but in a way that "precedes evidence, verisimilitude, spatiality, and temporality."(7) The paradox therein glares, but contingency is a characteristic of the chora, and I would contend it to be its force. Breathing Room opens the field, it does not contain the room, it just breathes it, it fluxes it.(8)

7.
The pauses during the instrumental sections. The 'don't laugh' at the beginning. The cringed listening. The wanton disregard for pitch. The abandon in music. Part of Cover(s), a series of vulnerable renditions of immediately recognizable songs (thirteen exist on a self-published cdr). Repertoire of collective nostalgia. What happens when the listener singsalong—a shadow singing, a singing that follows, a singing that leaks the song through the insularity of headphones to the air for all to hear.

8.
The calling of 'Mister Speaker,' the variations on broadcast quality and the snicker at our phobia with dead air, are memorable moments in the pantheon of radio art classics. With a keen ear for the incision, Lander takes your radio, sets it on its back and takes its components apart. When it is returned to you, you end up unsure if you want it work anymore. The space the listener can occupy in this work is expansive, the narrative threads just hanging there, up for grabs. Lander refers to the notion that his work constitutes a kind of writing in sound, primarily to differentiate the work from music. However, as writing, it is of a particular kind, written with radio in mind and, as such, contrasts explicitly with the hegemony of existing radio. This is a radio rendered vulnerable for it retains as much of the body as may be possible in this, the thinnest of air. It is in these inscriptions that radio art finds its tenuous home.(9)

9.
Nauman’s Room/Mind duel aggressively staged in his 1968 sound installation Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room shifts to a Head/Mind binary in Charles Stankievech’s Get Out of My Head, Get Out of My Mind (2008). Has the room been swallowed by the head in this revision? Where is my mind? Charles channels the Pixies, and perhaps ELO’s or Kylie Minogue’s I can't get you out of my head. In the installation version of the piece, the wireless headphones sit on a shelf, they can be donned or just eavesdropped. The volume here is layered by the solipsistic loops of the content and its vehicle. The artist states that the piece “denies architecture and explores the unique relation between virtual space and psychotopology.” Indeed, the room has been excised (twice, the one in Nauman’s original and the space of the gallery where the piece is presented), but the construction is now between the ears, immersed in a solitary exercise of soliloquized listening (another doubling). Headphones, unless they are integral to the work (which is the case here), should be a curatorial or artistic choice of last resort. Headphones may be practical but they reinforce the pretense that a work has a non-porous integrity that must be maintained when it is presented. Exhibition and presentation conditions are often vexed circumstances, the public inadvertently bumps into things, or they intentionally steal, or they miss the point, or they quite generously offer a reading not foretold by either the artist or the curator—in other words, an exhibition is always partial because a) a space is heterotopic and b) reception is beyond our control. These two conditions resound with intensity via the anaphoric Get Out.(10)


NOTES
1. Avital Ronell, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, 196.
2. Shoshana Felman discusses Don Juan throughout the aforementioned The Scandal of the Speaking Body, its subtitle is Don Juan with J. L. Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages. Repetition permeates Felman's text, another text that explicitly takes up Felman's analysis of Don Juan, turning him into a DJ and integrating a reading of technology within the act of the repeated promise, is Catherine Liu, Copying Machines, University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
3. Plato, Timaeus, trans. R. G. Bury, Harvard University Press, 1989, 211 [79c].
4. Elizabeth Grosz, "Women, Chora, Dwelling" in Space, Time, and Perversion, New York: Routledge, 1995, 115.
5. Adriana Cavarero, For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, Stanford University Press, 2005, 135.
6. Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984, 29. Cavarero also cites this passage (also p.135), interestingly both of us excise Kristeva's ending phrase to that sentence: "[...] but restrained by a single guarantee: syntax."
7. Kristeva, 26.
8. Sections 5 and 6 are culled from an essay on Canadian artists working with sound and performance, to be published in a forthcoming anthology featuring women working in performance.
9. Excerpt from liner notes I wrote for Dan Lander's CD Zoo in 1995 (Montreal: Empreintes Digitales). Repeating these words now, twenty years later, is an attempt to overlap current concerns with those of the past and track the resulting fallout. In other words, it's an uncanny exercise mixing misrecognition and recurrence.
10. Section 10 is an excerpt from "Heard and Misheard Notes" a curatorial essay for the forthcoming Volumes publication (Blackwood Gallery, 2015).