The first part of the composition is constructed around an excerpt from an English translation of a poem by the Spanish poet, playwright, and anti-fascist Miguel Hernández in which there is a vague presentiment of the losses of a previous life.
What does the wind of bitterness want
that it comes down the gully
and forces the windows
while I dress you in my arms?
Katya re-records her own voice numerous times with the help of a looper, finally deconstructing the text to the point of zero semantic content. This process aims to hear what is between the lines, among the splinters and lacunae of language, which cannot express the experience of tragedy.
The second part of the composition was created together with the sound artist Yura Kuznetsov and is an original inversion of the first part—a nullification, careful listening to the search for that which cannot be expressed directly. The basis of this part was Shirshkova’s repeatedly resynthesized voice, which is transformed into a disturbing flow of sound. The movement of this flow is not fast and is nothing like a river. It is better compared to a cautious wandering in the dark or feeling one’s way.
Katya Shirshkova is a vocalist and composer of experimental music who works at the intersection of the academic avant-garde, sound art, and performance.
Yura Kuznetsov is a musician, media artist, and sound artist and the founder of the music label Cancelled Records.
In this work, archives of audio recordings, radio and TV programs, films, and educational programs become markers of official memory. In it we see the unification and conservation of exemplary and explanatory excerpts from life and language/voice patterns. The friendly intonations of the presenters that flow into the space of history and culture are copied every time. And now, repeat after me. Now you speak.
This is the choreography of the trained voice: precise and regulated phrases, correct pronunciation, professional intonation, correct emotions. An ossified emptiness wrapped as a sweet.
Unreflective articulation and behavioral norms, unreflective repetitions of a phrase are figures of alienation translated by older women. We do not look into the emptiness but fill the space of fear with a speech pattern. Like an invocation. Hour by hour and it’s no easier, woe is me, maiden memory.
My maiden memory. Like cards that have fallen from a pack, like the depths of a lake and unconscious codes, unossified material, scrappy, changeable, alive. We listen in to the world of sacred memory, to diaries, folklore, informal sound archives, the space of personal choice. Voice—speech—song.
margaritki is the duet Olga Zubova and Maria Karpovich, who work at the intersection of sound art, performance, sound research, and educational and laboratory practices. In their projects, margaritki work with found sounds, field recordings, voices, and various regimes and means of listening.
Liminal spaces in videogames—intermediary scenes, service screens, and functional sections—usually have specific sounds that are attractive in order to retain the player’s attention but not too dynamic in order that they do not spend a lot of time there.
Being inside those spaces, unlike playing the main game, is like being in a state of suspended animation, as when a person is facing major external crises that they cannot influence. Being in a static, timeless bubble produces a feeling of comfort and enables a delay in coming into contact with something frightening. However, sooner or later this period must come to an end. The player needs to continue going forward, to make it to unknown locations, to solve puzzles, and obtain tools that will help them deal with scary reality. In this way, the zones of digital “non-being” allow us to develop new means of overcoming and working with reality.
Diana Romanova is an intermedia artist and sound researcher. In her works she interacts with silence in the broadest meaning of the term. She is developing the idea of reassembling sound concepts as an alternative form of political activity and the practice of listening as an exercise in non-violence.
Nostalgia. Is any phenomenon more poisonous while being so hopeful?
For most of the past decade I was studying (but not conceptualizing) the problem of nostalgia and the mechanisms of memory. For some time, I have been considering how damaging the constant return to the past can be. An addition to this internal dialogue is my thoughts that we have become accustomed to noting only good and pleasant things in the past, that which helps us to build our usual picture of a world which we would not wish to see destroyed. A year ago, my text about the relationship to the past would have been completely different. Now I think that exploring history and memory, both my own and in general, is something without which we cannot move on.
My first step toward this (re)conceptualization is this work. History that begins with the personal, which, as we know, is political, can be rewritten more than once against your will. The answer to this may be to document your own perception of events. And its best embodiment, in my view, is not your own memory but that of your smartphone.
Most of the recordings used to create Resignation were made in the first two weeks after February 24. They are mainly videos shot by me and my friends (used with their permission). To be honest, it’s impossible to understand what’s going on in these videos. Most of them involve a large number of filters. This is an artistic decision, my commentary on how unreliable memories can be and how silence (or, in the case of Resignation, reticence) is a distinguishing feature of public expression in the Russian context.
As a bridge between my own compositions, I chose sounds from St. Petersburg recorded by my friend for her own work; since I know the city better than the country as a whole, I believe I should talk only about it. Undoubtedly, the soundscape of St. Petersburg may not have changed in a year, but that does not mean what is happening in the world has no influence on the city. However, I deliberately leave that influence out of shot (literally, by removing the video part and leaving only sounds). For the listener, my work can be a reminder of how much personal perception of upheaval and catastrophes (my tracks were created from memories of February 2022) sound louder, more chaotic and severe than the quiet and calm perception of the community (the untouched everyday sounds of the city).
Resignation is an attempt to look at the events that happened a year ago through the prism of personal experience. The destruction of the picture of the world that I tried to express in sound is something I see not only as an ending but also as a new beginning, although this is not something I am optimistic about. I am more realistic about the fact that we need to look from the opposite side at those maxims on which the old worldview was constructed. After looking back in this way, we have the opportunity to move on. It turns out that memories are not something we need for nostalgia but to make a more sober evaluation of events, initially moving from the point at which we are now. There is no other way.
Artem Makarsky (Intern) is a musician working with field recordings and found samples. He has released three albums—Probation Period (2017), an era of lush (2019), and Cancelled Call (2022). His interests include ambient, noise, non-music, exploring the subconscious in everyday sounds and its liberation, and working with memory, the world around us, and culture. He has written for music and culture sections in most of the leading online publications in Russia.
The mixtape is based on digitized recordings from the enormous archive North Eurasia Found Tapes, which Egor Klochikhin and artist Ekaterina Egorova have carefully preserved and made freely accessible.
The recordings on these cassettes present the everyday life and musical tastes of the (post)Soviet person: Russian variety, foreign pop, classical, electronica, new age, educational programs, outtakes from everyday speech. At some point people listened to or (re)recorded these sounds: for entertainment, for relaxation, for education, for healing, for distribution, for study, for revelation.
All of the audio materials recorded on the tapes were either forgotten or lost by their previous owners before ending up in Klochikhin and Egorova’s archive. The sounds are now mixed up with other sounds—most of the tapes were used by Egor to create new compositions. Perhaps this process should be referred to as transformation rather than disappearance.
The tapes were found in Berdsk, Yakutsk, and Moscow from 2015 to 2021.
Egor Klochikhin is a musician, artist, and history teacher. As Foresteppe he has released several albums on Russian and international labels. Since 2017 he has also been involved in creating sound installations.