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Inside Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance

Nothing Concrete text
19 Jan 2021
33 min listen

In this special episode of Nothing Concrete, we meet the curators of Soundhouse to hear more about their inspirations and thoughts about how we experience radio and podcasts. 

Soundhouse originated from thinking about how presenting radio and podcasts in different ways (such as inside the Barbican) might change how you listen. With this year's Soundhouse online rather than in the Barbican, this year's theme became 'Intimacy and Distance'. 

In this episode, we hear from the three curators behind the Soundhouse listening rooms - Ariana Martinez, Axel Kacoutié and Arlie Adlington - as they interview each other about the work they chose, alongside clips from Soundhouse.  

With additional music courtesy of Jeremy Warmsley. 

Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance

This is your invitation to pause. Discover experimental radio and podcasts from around the world in our online listening experience.

Transcript

 

    [Tuning a radio, sharp and jagged it jumps between fragments of stations - snatches of classical music and speech - as the fizz of static fills the space]

 

    [Music begins - warm, soft and enveloping - like lowering yourself gently into bathwater]

AXEL KACOUTIÉ: I kind of had the vision of just... in a… in a… in an apocalyptic sense that, you know, what you're creating is that radio signal - out there…

    [Radio dissolves into pure static, a gentle fizzing underneath]

AXEL: ...for someone - whoever's listening. You know, 'this is something about us as human beings that is nice and distracting from all the madness in the world and if you are there then you know, enjoy!' kind of thing.

NINA GARTHWAITE: Hello and welcome to Nothing Concrete, the Barbican podcast. Here to help inspire more people to discover and love the arts. 

    [Radio static ends. New music begins - the Barbican Nothing Concrete theme. Warm electronic tones, pulsing with a light beat]

NINA: I'm Nina Garthwaite, and I'm one of the creators of Soundhouse along with Eleanor McDowall and the Barbican. The Soundhouse is an online exhibition featuring creative radio and podcasts. And it's also a space to reflect on audio culture. Radio and podcasts aren't usually visible in public space like music is in a concert hall or art is in a gallery. So in creating this project, we were curious about whether putting radio into a space like the Barbican might invite people to hear it differently. For the first Soundhouse, which was back in 2018, we made a specially designed pop up venue in the Barbican Foyers. It was a sort of cinema for sound with a focus on communal listening and work that stimulated the senses. This year Soundhouse had to be online, so we decided to explore the themes of intimacy and distance. On the site, you can find three guest-curated listening rooms and each one broadcasts a loop of audio works that you can tune into anytime - a bit like a radio. In this special edition of Nothing Concrete, we'll hear from the three guest curators...

ARLIE ADLINGTON: I'm Arlie Adlington, and I'm an audio producer based in London.

ARIANA MARTINEZ: I'm Ariana Martinez and I'm a multimedia artist and radio maker based in New York City. 

AXEL: My name is Axel Kacoutie, and I'm an audio artist and poet.

NINA: You'll hear clips from the listening rooms as well - as the curatorial statements that framed them - as these audio artists interview each other about why they chose the work they did and what inspires them creatively.

    [Nothing Concrete theme ends as radio static rises up and swallows the music]

    [The sound of a radio tuning, jagged snatches of stations caught amidst the fizz and hiss of it]

    [Radio static slowly dissolves as Ariana starts speaking]

ARIANA: With work that sits in a gallery, for example, like a painting or a sculpture, there are very clear spoken and unspoken rules about how close you as another body can get to that object and what you are allowed to perceive of it. But with audio, it feels like the medium just leaks past all of that, even when you set up barriers like, 'oh this piece is only X number of minutes long and can only be accessed on this platform' and you know... 

    [Music begins. A metallic blooming, steadily rising upwards underneath the speech]

ARIANA: If you are a person who hears - and even that is so, like, expansive you know you have all of the information of vibration, you have, you know, any number of permutations of how something sounds to any number of ears you know, and all of those are very physical experiences that are as close to, like, your actual, like, the barrier of your body as possible. 

    [Amidst the bloom of the music - a deep vibration, almost imperceptible, reverberating your body. Higher up - cicadas fill the space, the feel of a hot summer evening]

ARIANA: Mirror Touch. 

    [Metal sings, the scrape of someone running a finger around the edge of a metal bowl or gliding a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass]

ARIANA: 'Sound is a wave moving through a medium…’

    [The movement of water, plunging your head beneath the surface, air bubbles rising around you]

ARIANA: ‘...particles of air dispersing, water quivering. So much of you is just air and water…’ 

    [Birds enter - carried on a light breeze - singing with the first light of the morning]

ARIANA: ‘...porous membranes and soft tissue. Sound is moving through you too. It is the small ringing of birdsong that reaches you, still half submerged in dream-sleep, and pulls you onto shore. 

    [Wind moves lightly through a tree, rippling the leaves]

ARIANA: ‘As you lie on your back with sun-soaked eyelids, it is the tall windswept grass - a sampling of transparent tones, that wraps you in gauzy layers.’ 

    [Water rises, your head is submerged beneath the surface, warm, encircled by the air bubbles rippling upwards around you]

ARIANA: ‘It is a friend or a lover who turns to you and whispers, hot breath pressing words through from mouth to ear - a kind of resuscitation.’

    [A gentle, insistent, warm metallic melody rings across the surface of the music. The cicadas return - the feeling of fizzing - a gentle excitement] 

ARIANA: ‘It is goosebumps, and butterflies, and sinking stomachs. It is a rippling vibration moving from the earth to the bottoms of your feet, inward and upward and through.’   

    [Water ripples across the surface]

ARIANA: ‘With the belief that sound is a kind of touch, this selection of works for Soundhouse centres around the tactile qualities of sound—those which ground us in our bodies and to our surroundings. Pieces were selected for their potential to provoke actual, physical sensations in listeners, for their attunement to sound as a physical material with textural qualities, and for their reflection of visceral sensations or sensory-rich environments.'

    [Radio static cuts sharply through, changing the scene to a clip from the audio loop - ‘A Perfect Love’ by Ariana Martinez]

    [Cicadas rise, wind blows, grass rustles.]
 
POEM: I remember the day you left me. I was chewing soft chrysanthemums. Bitter white juice stained my grief. Maybe that’s the reason why you always come back to me whenever bitterness welts on my eyes.
 
    [Music continues with the addition of a warm, sustained, pulsating tone that runs through the tumbling sequence like an electrical current.]
 
    [Grass sweeps back and forth.]

 
POEM: Welcome, welcome, welcome. You came back to me as a sensitive plant.
 
    [Radio static cuts sharply through, changing the scene to the conversation between curators, slowly dissolving underneath Axel as he begins to talk]

AXEL: What I am curious about with your brief and your statement... the word grounded, and I associate that with memory, and that tactile, again, you use that word too - the tactile experience of what sound can do and what art does as a whole, to ground and to remember... I think are springboards into something else. Is there something that you are... that you want the listener to remember? Because the sense that... the sense of feeling grounded could imply that there's something that's not. There's something that means that we are in this wonderful chaos, if you want to use that word, of of the winds of everything, that just means that we're not centred.

ARIANA: I know... recently, I've been personally feeling, um, like a really, really... I have been having a really, really hard time, um, keeping track of time and movement and like where I am just like... I think I am someone who can be very in my head almost entirely for long stretches of time. Like I don't have to be a body and I, like, actively choose not to be a body a lot of the time! And that's like a different but related issue. And so I think that I'm looking both in the work that I make and the work that I listen to, or, or otherwise take into my mind - for very direct reminders of the material and physical world. And I think, right now especially we're just in this moment where it's so hard to get the amount of that that we need, you know? And to even remember that we need it, to even remember that like, I do need to touch physical material objects, like I do need to be close to other human beings, I do need to smell the difference between summer and winter air, you know, and I think that the work that I chose for the loop hopefully kind of evoked these like sympathetic reactions where either you are actually or at least approximately feeling the thing that's being felt in that piece. Or you're reminded to go seek it out. 

    [Clip from ‘Hello Echo’ by Sara Brooke Curtis begins to play beneath Ariana]

SON: Hello? Hello?
 
SARA:
Hello?

ARIANA: So, you know, with like, Hello Echo, for example. 

SON: Hey!

SARA: How are you?

SON: Good!

ARIANA: I think about that piece so much because... 

SARA: What do you feel like today? 

ARIANA: ...it's very funny and silly, but it's also extremely serious in that like, why are we in direct dialogue with our, you know, natural surroundings like really like, like, calling and responding back, you know,

SARA: Have a good day echo!

SON: Oh thanks momma!

    [Sara chuckles]

AXEL: Using something that's not physical to remind us of the physical I think that's quite a skill, and that's quite special

ARIANA: In our brains, there's all of these like, seemingly unrelated random bits that once they're touched, like... 

    [Water bubbles up into the sound - again your head feels beneath the surface, surrounded by pockets of air]

ARIANA: ...ripple into like a whole thread of memory and a whole thread of experience that you can kind of reactivate, if you know how.

    [Music returns. A metallic blooming, steadily rising upwards intertwining with the fizz and crackle of radio static]

    [Metal sings and shines across the surface, a shard of light carving through]

ARLIE: ‘The place where the light bends. There are certain big ideas that shape Western society and which are used to marginalise some people and to centre others. Ideas like white supremacy, patriarchy, etc. In my audio loop, I wanted to share some pieces that try to engage with and explore those ideas - using personal, intimate and sometimes very vulnerable storytelling.’

STACIA BROWN [a clip from the audio loop - as if it’s coming out of a radio]: I believe that the way you hear greatly informs the way you interact with the world.It's what led you to the language you developed. 

ARLIE: ‘These are pieces where the producer digs really deep into the ways their own life has been shaped by the bigger idea they're trying to explore.’ 

JULIA FREEMAN: So next time someone says, 'go to hell!' I can say, 'been there, done that'.

ARLIE: ‘By doing this deep reflection, they tried to understand the idea better for themselves. And for the listener.’ 

MARA LAZER: My eyes turned to flames ignited by - yet resigned to - trans desire. 

ARLIE: ‘I think this is a style of work that can lead to really insightful observations about topics like white supremacy and patriarchy, that wouldn't come out in work that's more removed, or that tries to be "objective". Making work like this often involves a personal sacrifice to some extent, because it means letting strangers hear something intimate and personal, they might not understand it, they might judge you for it or they might retaliate against it.’ 

NK: I don't know what will happen if I let my guard down. 

ARLIE: ‘It also takes a lot of energy to explore complex ideas at a systemic and personal level simultaneously, in a way that's thoughtful and structured. But as well as involving some kind of sacrifice, making this type of work also has the potential to be healing for the producer. Although there's no way to know until you go through the process of making it. When these pieces work, they give the producer and the listener a tool to dig into complicated, nuanced, thought-provoking stuff about some of the biggest concepts that fundamentally shape our culture. 

    [Radio static rises to fill the frame, swallowing the slow, warm music beneath. We hear a clip from ‘The Toilets At Home Are All Gender Neutral’ by Arlie Adlington]

    [A crunching, fragmenting, eroding - rocks and pebbles crushed to dust under foot - the crushing and grinding of something hard in a pestle and mortar]
 
ARLIE: When you go into public toilets, it is stressful worrying how other people are going to react to you being in there. But the worst thing is actually what it makes you do to yourself. When the majority of people look at you and don't see your gender how it feels to you inside. You have to work really hard to hold on to your sense of self.
 
    [Music - a harsh, sharp rhythm like a computer game character with a pickaxe trying to chip away at a mountain]
 
ARLIE:
It's like you know who you are. But all day you get treated like you're someone else.
 
    [Crunching and crumbling sounds - like dust and small rocks tumbling off the surface of a cliff face]
 
ARLIE:
That takes mental effort to fight off. And for me, that's the more stressful thing about public toilets.
 
    [A sharp buzzing - like a neon light]

ARLIE: Because, like, I'm just trying to live my life and suddenly I have to piss and I need people to misgender me so I don't get any hassle. I go into the toilet, hoping people will think my gender is something different to how I want them to see it the whole rest of the time. And when it all goes fine, it's like great. I didn't get harassed. But also I've just been reminded that people don't see me the way I feel inside and that chips away at you.
 
    [Rhythm and pace builds - the pickaxe hacking away at the mountain is working more furiously - it’s exhausting]
 
ARLIE:
Going for a piss should be the simplest thing in the world. But instead it becomes this massive headfuck. And I'm actually lucky. I'm lucky that a headfuck and a bit of hassle is the worst I get.
 
    [A hammering beat piles on top of the music - crunching, crumbling rocks turning to dust]
 
ARLIE: It’s just going to the toilet. Everyone has to go to the toilet.
 
    [Beat speeds up and up, hammering and hammering until it eventually stops. What remains feels like your head is underwater, a swirling space, relief that the pounding has ended]
 
    [Rocks crumble to dust]

 
ARLIE: Okay, this is a story that I never told anyone before.
 
    [Silence]
 
    [Radio static rises upwards and pulls you back into the conversation between curators]

ARIANA: So Arlie, before we began this recording, we were having this kind of side conversation about - how much of yourself in a personal sense do you give to whatever you're making. And it seems like everybody who contributed work to your audio loop is giving vulnerable parts of their lives that are varied in their dimensions of vulnerability. Like there's, to me, there's like layers in each piece, where, okay, I've given you this much of myself, I've given you this much of myself, I've given you this much of myself. But then there's a moment in almost all of them. And especially, like, where I caught this was actually in your piece - where I thought I've heard like all of the most vulnerable thoughts that could come out of this, but then the individual speaking, seems to, like, break the final layer between them as someone separate from you as a listener. And they've like let you in to like the kind of last bit that they maybe were holding on to or protecting. And, for me, that happened in your piece, when you are talking about the the moment of like, almost like, divine gender recognition, and then when you try to explain it, as you are in this podcast, to us, to the listener, you almost sound like, you know, that it's gonna be hard for some people to take your word for it. And to like, understand that this happened. And this was like a profound experience for you. And I guess, I am wondering if like, your willingness or ability to do that to like, kind of open the door, that last door to yourself in the work that you're making - if that's changed over time?

ARLIE: I guess, a thing that I find, like, useful about audio as a medium for exploring that kind of stuff is that you can kind of pretend like no one is actually going to hear it. [He laughs] Because you don't have to get up and say it in front of anybody. I don't know, maybe that's kind of stupid and obvious, but like...

ARIANA: I don't think that's stupid and obvious at all. I often do this thing where I’ll write in the second person, which I've talked about before, but I do that because it, like, allows me to not be me. And in audio, like you can kind of... even if you're the person telling the story... you can kind of project it onto like an imagined person or imagined self.

ARLIE: I think what I'm really trying to do or find or something when I make a piece like that is just to crystallise one small thing - that I know exactly what the experience is I'm trying to describe, or it's like a thought or a feeling that I've had that I just know that I can find the words to explain that thing quite clearly. And I suppose in all the pieces in my loop, lots of the stuff people are describing, it's not necessarily like universal experiences, but they're saying the thing that they need to say about it, or that they want to say about it, somebody else hasn't been like, 'I know you have this experience - tell me about it' or something. It's like they've gone, 'no, I've got a thing I want to say about this, that I think can be said, well through this medium of telling this story in this way'. So yeah, I do think that is a common thread in all those pieces, and that's something different people can make something different or a different outcome comes out of it when a person is in charge of all the elements in that way.

    [Radio static shifts the scene into the audio loop - ‘How To Remember’ by Axel Kacoutié]

    [Plunging into the earth - air from the outside fills the scene - earth and tiny pebbles fall delicately]

AXEL: You had to dig deep to find it. To make sense of yourself again. Separating what’s really you from whatever you picked up to keep going in this world. 
 
    [Traffic noise transforms into an echo of a wave. A noise in the distance - like an oncoming storm]
 
AXEL: It can be both liberating and terrifying because maybe for the first time, you learn you're not the familiar mask you have to wear. You're not this terrible thing that needs to be grateful for being here. And you don't need to soften the letters of your name for them to say it.  
 
    [Traffic blooms unearthly across the scene]
 
AXEL:
You have never been too loud or too smart, an angel or the devil. In fact, you have never been any of the things you mysteriously felt obliged to be. Because you realise it's never been about you. You are black because you need to be…
 
    [Traffic has turned into an ominous slow rattle]
 
    [A VOICE SHOUTS A RACIAL SLUR. Fast, sudden, a short, sharp shock]
 
AXEL: ...because they need you to be in order to stay white.
 
    [The shouting voice folds in on itself and distorts, moving from left to right and receding]
 
    [An old television switches on]

 
NEWS ARCHIVE:
14 world powers discussing the future of the entire continent, and how to carve it up. European powers have been setting up colonies in Africa for decades. Now they decided which parts of the continent they would each be allowed to treat as their own.
 
    [Fragments and snatches of voices, air, a metallic vibration run gently underneath]
 
AXEL: This is how you find yourself in the game you never asked to play in a hall of mirrors, where you see them more than you see you. But you can't afford to forget yourself because knowing who you are, is your way out. But after the mirrors and distractions, the names countries and the sea, after finding yourself on the outside - this time alone in the dark. Separating from what you're not.
 
    [The scene disappears - pulled upwards into nothingness]
 
AXEL: Can you truly say who you are?
 
    [The jagged sound of a radio tuning between stations. Fragments of music and speech jutt into the scene before dissolving into a fizzing hiss which fades as Axel begins to speak]

AXEL: I think there's a reason why there's a golden disc flying through space, um, with the information of who we are, as a species, as opposed to, you know, a very expensive, impenetrable glass case, with a tree in it, for example, you know. There's something about sound and the voice... what it does to us as human beings.

    [A clip from the audio loop - ‘A Perfect Love’ by Ariana Martinez - rises up underneath Axel]

POEM: In order to recall you, my grief has to be gendered so that when I step on the mound, you're buried. My body will be forever alien.
 
    [Music continues]
 
TAEHEE:
If I recall the ceremony or the ritual to remember someone that I loved and like someone who loved me back, the ritual language is gendered.
 
    [Music shifts, slightly lower in tone now.]
 
TAEHEE:
And my instinct would be like, oh, that's the language that I learned, so I want to have some kind of relationship with it, you know?

    [Music continues.]
 
    [Grass rustles.]
 
POEM:
I'm not your eldest son. How do I access your archive? I'm not your daughter. How do I sound my loss?
 
    [Music shifts lower again, tumbling rapidly into place before slowing down, and is then replaced with a brief, simple sequence of round, electronic tones.]
 
NARRATOR: Is there a right way to stay warm?
 
    [Music and electronic tones fade out into silence.]

AXEL: But also, as well, it's just kind of like how minimal the technical requirements are for it -  as opposed to other forms - you know, you need to study X amount of time you need this much money to buy an instrument this you know. Like, everything now... you know, even with your phone, just sit down in a quiet, relatively quiet space and you know, like, hang your arm out just to record the rain. 

    [Rain pours into the scene]

AXEL: This is something so immediate and soothing and relaxing and connecting that sound has. What it does to the imagination, what it does to us as human beings... I think it's it's just, yeah, it's, it's the most powerful thing. 

    [Music returns - warm, soft and enveloping - like lowering yourself gently into bathwater. A gentle melody, played on reverberant metal, skips lightly across its surface. Rain continues to pour before disappearing under Axel’s voice - transforming into radio static]

AXEL: ‘And again. Art isn’t made to experience only once. How many times have you watched your favourite film or listened to a favourite song or album? Most galleries are free to visit and if you’ve had the habit of going every now and then, you may have a favourite piece of work. But what about audio? Whether it’s a podcast, radio production or something in between, I don’t think we’ve developed the same listening habits compared to other mediums. When was the last time you’ve listened to a podcast more than once if ever? Why? Have we given in to the competing forces that demand our attention or has nothing been made that speaks to us in a way worthy of our time?   This curation is an invitation to pause. I want to share pieces with you that have made me forget where I am and who I was and other works that have made me feel a lack, or reimagine a possibility that I didn’t begin to think existed. And yes. of course, I have shamelessly repeated all of these productions, hoping to hear it for the first time again.   I hope you do too.

    [‘I’m So Sorry’ by Eleanor McDowall - a clip from the audio loop - begins to play]
 
    [A clock steadily and constantly ticks. Music blooms - a warm glow like the light from a computer screen]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm sorry.
 
    [Ticking continues, warm glow blooms]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm so sorry. I'm so so sorry. God, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry this reply is so late. 
 
    [Another clock starts to tick, alternating with the other one, an uneven and insistent momentum]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE: I look up from my desk. 
 
    [Clock gears wind]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE: And it's been a fucking month. I'm so sorry to be so slow. 
 
    [Ticking, clock winding]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE: I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I’ve completely forgotten / It completely slipped my mind.
 
    [Ticking, winding clocks continue skittering under the list]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
Sorry to be useless. Sorry to be keen. Sorry to be out of it.
Sorry for the bother. Sorry for the stress. Sorry to be a disorganised mess. Sorry for the stream of consciousness email.
 
     [Ticking of three different clocks, falling in and out of time]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE: Am I being an idiot? I'm probably being an idiot. I'm almost certainly being an idiot. I'm an idiot. 
    
     [Music blooms in a glow]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm a monster. I'm so sorry for this.
 
     [Ticking]
 

     COMPUTERISED VOICE: Oh love. Oh love. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry you saw how sad I was. I'm so sorry if it hasn't felt like... [Winding clocks intensify] I'm so sorry you’ve been feeling... I'm sorry I haven't been in touch more lately.
 
     [Only ticking clocks remain]

 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm so sorry.
 
     [Only one ticking clock remains]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm sorry.
 
     [Ticking]
 
COMPUTERISED VOICE:
I'm sorry not to have you in my life right now.
 
    [Radio static rises up and swallows the audio loop. We return to the conversation between the curators]

ARLIE: This is maybe slightly opening on one of those 'more of a comment than a question things' but I promise you there will be a question… [Axel and Ariana laugh] I was thinking about the reasons why people, like, maybe don't return to audio and like re listen to things the way that we do with, like, TV and movies and books and things like that. And I don't know whether any of that is to do with the fact that, like, you mostly listen to audio... it's not, like, usually very social, it's usually something you do on your own. And then also, I was wondering if it was anything to do with, like, the fact that there isn't usually some kind of like visual reference to remind you of the existence of the thing. So like, you can, like, look at your bookcase and see a book that you've read before and be like, 'oh, yeah, I'm gonna pick that up and read it again'. And you don't really have that with audio. So I feel like maybe things slightly disappear into the ether after you hear them. But anyway, that made me think something I wanted to ask you, which is like, I've heard people kind of make this argument that, like, life's too short to read the same book twice. You know, like, why would I read a book I've already read when there's like, 1000s of amazing books still to read? And I have only so much time to read them. I don't necessarily, I'm not saying I agree with that. But that made me want to ask you - what do you think people could gain from coming back to audio pieces that they've heard in the past? Like, is there something either you think that can be gained from revisiting things? And also are there... what have your experiences been of revisiting things? And what have you got kind of like second and third time around listening to things,

AXEL: That comfort that comes from listening to something that just felt good to listen to the first time - I think it's probably trying to attempt to do that. Because I know that, for me, that's quite often... I quite go... I go through this nostalgic rabbit hole, I guess, like even when Spotify does this whole thing of like, 'here's your year in review!' and you... you instantly know the spaces that you were physically and emotionally when you've repeated that song again, and again, I think it's quite healthy to tap into that... into that memory... into that feeling of being like, 'oh, this is where I was at when I made this or this is where I was at, when I listened to this and how much it helped me heal, how much it helped me bring... give new perspective, how much I agree or disagree with this, this, this this presentation of whatever it is'. And now specifically with audio, I think every single piece again, has that real, tangible tactile time capsule of bringing me back to the moments when I listened to it for the first time.

    [Music begins to bloom, warm and soft underneath]

ARLIE: Something that I do get really strongly is very strong, like, place memories of where I was when I heard certain, like, radio stories or podcasts or whatever. So then I get this thing where when I'm like back in that place, on that like random, like, staircase at a train station or in the supermarket, by the lettuce or whatever - I, like, have like a story that pops into my head that's located in that place. So in that way, I feel like I sort of do re listen to things in a way, whereas, you know, like I don't have that association really with like films or books, because I'm probably sitting on my sofa when I, you know, take those things in. So, I don't know, it's just a different kind of slightly different way of re engaging with things because of the way that I listen to stuff.

ARIANA: Yeah, and I'm just thinking about, like, when you re listen to something, like you're kind of coding it in another layer of, like, reality. Every time you listen to it, it's mapping on to a different place and a different place is mapping on to it - kind of like Arlie was saying - how when you encounter the, like the place in the world where you listen to the thing, it's queued up again. And so every time you listen, in a different place, you're like, queuing it up with another 

AXEL: Yeah...

ARIANA: ...with another, like, dimension.

AXEL: I love this. But that also reminds me of the fact like, do you think... because I kind of record, like, the first listen, almost, you know, like, I've been rewatching, The Crown. And quite often, whenever they're recording what the queen is saying, for the first time, they got that blank vinyl, and they're recording it and carving in the grooves of this record, basically, that essentially you distribute that like the first the first record, basically. And I wondered, are you able to essentially record new grooves? Or is there... you know, like, in a deterministic way, do you think like, you can listen to that, that first that first impression that you've had of it? Do you think that could re-record, a new experience, a new association? Do you think that's possible? Like for me, I feel like that's, it's, that's why it's always a time capsule. But for you, you're sounding like... from how you're saying it sounds like, the hear and now is always what's gonna be recorded in association to that. 

ARIANA: Like established versus cumulative...

AXEL: Yeah... 

ARIANA: This is like the, you know, the first kiss moment with this piece of audio, it's, like, embedded in your brain forever. Or, it's like, this is like, a long courtship with this piece that you know, builds over time and like, as we get to know each other, like, we make each other better. Like, I think that's how I think about like, the audio that I love, like, it's like constantly shaping me and like, like my world, and hopefully, like in some weird cosmic way, I'm like shaping it back.

AXEL: It begs the question - why do... why does one listen to audio in the first place? Is it to form new memories, or is it to establish a relationship with self and your own growth? And, you know, the intention to listen to something again, is almost kind of like a measure of that and how far you've gone or going or whatever that I don't know. Yeah, yeah, it's... wow. [Laughs]

     [Music blooms and dissolves into the Nothing Concrete theme]

NINA: You can experience the listening rooms in the Soundhouse on Barbican.org.uk/Soundhouse until the 28th of February 2021. Specially commissioned essays and poetry, which accompany the exhibition, will remain online. Thanks for listening to Nothing Concrete and this special Soundhouse episode. Subscribe to Nothing Concrete on Acast, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts.

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