Celebrating Urban Noise
“As an only child, I passed the time by collecting things… and later when my parents bought me my first cassette recorder, I collected sounds.”
(The Family Album, 2005)
My practice engages with the overwhelming clamour of the global soundscape through installation works and performance, to unpick and reframe the notion of noise as unwanted signal. I define noise as a spectrum of the soundscape, as complex and as varied as tonal sound and lacking in inherent social or moral agency.
I utilise binaural sound recording techniques (microphones worn in the ears like personal stereo headphones) to uncover the extraordinary wealth of sonic detail buried within the drone of urban living. By then mediating the listening process with story-telling, sonic mayhem, radical posturing and humour, I invite my audience to re-contextualise their experience and to prioritise listening over the dominant visual sense.
My artist alter ego, “conceptual politician” Giuseppe Marinetti - CEO of the fictional Skinny Vintage Investment Corporation - acknowledges a debt to the Milan Futurists and, in particular, to Luigi Russolo’s Art of Noises manifesto. Whilst the machine age may be over, the post-digital landscape in which we find ourselves has many striking similarities to the early decades of modernism, which I aim to reflect upon in my own practice. Environmental disaster and financial meltdown simmer beneath the surface, hinting at upheaval, terrorist attack and the rise of regressive politics; in works that simultaneously challenge and inspire the listener to action, rather than simple contemplation.
In particular, I am intrigued by the potentiality for sonic activism, expressed through an online remix culture and the emergence of a Creative Commons; recycling and reusing the digital junk of the global marketplace. Whether recording and reworking the views of the public about the importance of democracy in Revolution #10, or adapting the gentle sounds of Berlin coffee shops to evoke a “shoreditchification” of the local high street – the act of listening becomes a revolutionary intervention in an increasingly corporatised public space.
Joseph Young (2015)