Endless Loops / The Exploded Archive Project:

Endless Loops / The Exploded Archive Project

“what kind of music do you like?”
“oh, I prefer music that disappears quickly, while my friend here is a fan of music that sticks around too long.”

This is an archival listening project exploring what happens to the act of listening when a loop of sound doesn’t end.
In this exploded archive, we will listen to sound loops for an extreme amount of time and track our interpretations of what we are hearing.

For this project, the act of listening will be rendered as a “poetic extraction”:
that is, a written recording of the moment-to-moment reflections that occur in the mind while listening to a sound loop.

Using this we can then hope to observe and understand changes in the act of listening itself, and how these changes are rendered by the self as we move in between different aspects of “hearing” and “listening”; as our sonic attention span dilates and contracts.
This project will also serve to illustrate the deceptively complex process of rendering sound into language, and how this process is changed, subtly or drastically, by stresses to attention span. By listening to a repetitious loop past the usual point, we may be able to recognize changes in listening rather than changes attributable via listening. These changes in listening will occur as the loop continues past a personal attention span threshold; during the change from “focused listening” to “expected listening”. The discomfort of repetitious sound stimuli reveals the boundary of possibility for focused listening.

Each loop will be posted here, below, along with examples of poetic extraction for 30 minutes of loop exposure, as well as some archival context for the sounds that go together to make each loop.
Visitors are invited to listen to the loops and record their own interpretations in the provided text fields.


LOOP 1 – “Cathode”
LOOP 2 – “Wednesday”
LOOP 3 – “Akaba”
LOOP 4 – “Seibal”
LOOP 5 – “Tilling”

Confessions of Self Discovery

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Some Project Goals….

One of the most basic qualities of sound is that it tends to begin and end. It is more common for sound to not persist. This quality is even more common for music, for organized sound would tend to be organized with a beginning and ending, mirroring aspects of the humans who create it. As individuals, we tend to have beginnings and endings; music and sounds that go on forever tend to outlive their welcome, or mark a location, or a time in the past. Persistent sounds, the keynote sounds of life, are associated with the environment we inhabit, the world on which we live and the background that we are in front of, things too big to be human. This means we have a natural affinity for beginnings and ending, week seek them out instinctively, and the continuous sounds are either a problem to solve or an intractable quality of the external world that is never ‘us’. We each have a mental boundary or threshold where we cease to perceive the continuous, in order to to spend our precious attention to better perceive the myriad beginnings and endings around us; the ones that define our life and time.

The big questions of perception revolve around where these boundaries are, exactly. How quickly can we meet them; what form the act of perceptual discovery takes (is it always pleasure? or perhaps stress?). I suspect The act of listening might require a distinct lack of continuousness . It is a matter of course that to perceive perception itself is difficult and confusing.

My simple goals with this project are to amass a collection of texts that illustrate the act of “listening” as having a concrete output in the mind. It is an individuals’ moment to moment ‘construing’ of their own listening that I am particularly interested in, and for me, this requires a possibly uncomfortable application of the continuous.
How does our listening mind break sound into individual components to then apply our precious attention? And does a sound change and become different if it persists past a threshold of our focus?
I am also interested in the seeming unending reservoirs of poetry that result from attempting to directly record stimulation of the senses; in this case, the aural sense; the time sense. The struggle that every listener goes though immersed in the flow of time, the reckoning with the instantaneousness of sound, the experience of figuring out what, exactly, happens to us when we hear sound, listen to sound, remember sound, an often simultaneous reckoning; these are phenomenological and epistemological struggles of the highest order, so fundamental that we must mostly over look them day to day. A struggle that could only be acknowledged as such by asking “what are you hearing?” in the moment (which is a sonically inconvenient time to ask questions shhhhhhhh).

The givens in this process are that (1) Listening to sound results in internal subjective experiences that, (2) when written down, (3) results in a type of “poetic extraction” from the sound-experience; this extracted impression is then, (4) a written record of what images and mental states are evoked during the act of listening, extracted from the moment of listening by this process and rendered into poetry by language. It’s one form of “as good as we can do” with this level of technology and participation (i’m sure theres some advanced machine I could hook people to that would provide more detail), for now, poetry will do.

Designating the output as “poetry” is both a practical and creative act: the resulting moment to moment written record of sound broadly looks and reads like poetry, and that I, the artist here, am personally designating these language records as a type of poetry. it is also, of course, heavily related to how I myself construe my own listening.

As an exercise, I suspect that If one takes a moment to write down what sounds are evoking in the mind, there will be themes of correlation between sounds and words that reoccur both for each individual and for each sound loop. While I expect there to be broad socio-cultural differences in how different people render sound into language, I suspect there would also be broad similarities (I.e. sounds low in pitch being described as “dark” or “murky”, etc) that would emerge.

Listening to a loop that threatens to not end constrains the act of listening to the navigation of a comparably smaller amount of sound data. simultaneously, this also mandates a loosening of organized sounds’ usual temporal insistence; the fact that that each sound occurs at a new moment. The reoccurring sounds in each loop give the time for each sound to be considered differently on every repetition. The loop ‘tricks’ our time.
Listening to a loop for an extended period of time forces the listener to hear the same sounds as eventually different. Any written record of the act of hearing would contain the shifting images that occur during listening, even though we know that the sounds are a repetitious loop. Since we know in this case that the sounds repeat, any changes over time in the imagery must come from how the listening experience is changed via the repetition.

This exercise is constructed to create specific “documents of listening”, to create a language output document for a series of sounds, with the idea of being able to compare and contrast these distinct outcomes eventually – the outcome of ‘reflection during the act of listening’. We can also consider the mental drift from one ‘type’ of listening to another, a traversal across a spectrum of listening as the act is affected by itself; the drift from listening to something for the first time (‘novel listening’), to its opposite, (‘exhausted listening’). These exercises contain a different threshold for each listener, after which one technically becomes ‘uncomfortable’ and deliberately falls outside of ones’ day-to-day listening practices.

Secret goals:

The output of this project will be written impressions of the listening experience matched to their respective sound loops . Before anything can be said in terms of an analysis of these impressions, they will be examples of the listening experience rendered into language in real time.
This is important to me because it is rare. When asked about what we had just heard, we have to relate the story of what we have heard in language as it redeeds from us in time, and we often have to wait a while before asking. So suddenly a question about listening and hearing actually becomes a question of memory; how it works individually and how sensations and stimulus persist within it.

This project is an attempt construct a scenario to render impressions of sound into language that have an immediacy that parallels the immediacy of a sonic experience.

This project is also an attempt to construct a sonic scenario that similarly rare, a structure for listening to a loop for longer than is usual in music and art. I’m not sure if anyone else listens to loops for over 20 minutes, but I have set the maximum length for this project at 30 min because thats the longest I can conceive someone who isn’t a sonic pervert to agree to.

A loop of sound is the best illustration of a contradiction within the act of listening:
That even as a sound remains phenomenologically and physiologically the same,
its affect over time may change
Our experience of the loop changes over time, even though we know the loop itself does not change.
We know the sound does not change, because we trapped it in a loop
and that loop may continue indefinitely.
But how we listen to it changes
Which means we change it via the act of listening
Different moments produce different modes of listening
Different ‘cultures of listening’ may hear the same sounds differently
To listen is to train oneself in a type of listening
This creates expectations of listening, born out of that training,
This leads to the build up of a listening culture,
one that requires that a loop continue or stop at certain acceptable times.

This project is a formal attempt to explore how the affects of sound may change over time, and how this change can be recorded into language. How we can best render the experience of listening into language is perhaps its own question, but for this project, we will take it as a given that it is possible to render human experience into language, and that we can trust what someones says is evoked in their experience of what they hear. This project will also serve on a basic level as a formalized recording of the experience of listening, and listening to loops specifically. It will also be a de-facto exploration of my personal sound archive, and composition techniques using this archive.

The act of listening has an ancillary but constant component of active memory, where the instantaneous sound moves out of the present experience at the rate it is heard and leaves us grasping with what we just heard in the next moment, where, of course, there is a new sound to hear. Listening, or the interpretation of what one is hearing, is a simultaneous remembering of what came before and an anticipation of what one expected to hear next.

A loop of sound confounds this listening experience, supporting some reflexes and destroying others. The reoccurring nature of the loop means that we do not have to cling to memory of what we just heard; what we just heard is reoccurring in each new moment of its looping. We no longer have to expect anything of the future of the loop, we know that it loops, possibly (but never really) forever.

This project is concerned with what happens to the listing experience when a listener is exposed to a loop for increasing amounts of time, past the point that the loop can be considered ‘musically useful’ or to even be referred to as music, and to an extent that falls outside even how we are most likely to encounter sound loops in art.

We are hearing constantly, there is no lid for the ear, and the extent to which we listen and interpret what we are hearing can be grouped into traditions and strategies, into regimes of training and cultures of exception, is in a parsing of basic sonic affects: that sounds begin and end, that they layer over each other, that they happen and are remembered. That they are made of continuous elements and unique moments of juxtaposition. That a sound is recognized as continuous may be because it contains sonic information that is looping with respect to our experience of it. There are frozen moments of sound all around us constantly, places where the sonic background is continuous and re-occurring.

Each quality that sound possesses are also situated within contexts where we have expectations for sounds and how they are deployed and experienced. Within these contexts, these regimes of culture, loops of sound have their own uses and qualities that seem ‘appropriate’. Loops of sound freeze a moment in time and expand that moment into a new ratio of scale. But the taxonomy of loops is organized by how long a loop must go on looping, when it should begin and end, what moment deserves to be extended outside its moment of inception. a sound that could be determined to be detritus, no worthy of further consideration, can be elevated in the act of looping, and likewise an indomitable and unique sound can be rendered into a form of garbage by looping, turning listening into a form of torture. What happens to us if we listen to a loop outside of the bounds of appropriateness? What does it say about our normal strategies for listening that a loop can be said to have gone on too long? What happens to the act of listening within a radically different regime of listening, one where a loop has no appropriate length, one where the loop may persist forever?


1. Gathering of loop materials – ‘Work-Tapes’ (2-6 tapes for each ‘expanded_constructed loop’)
2. Analysis of ‘archival timeline’/origin for each tape (short personal recollection)
3. “poetic extraction” of what each ‘work-tape’ contains sonically and narratively
(listen to each tape, perform poetic extraction on each tape)
(this is a separate process from ‘archival timeline’ of each tape)
4. Construction of “expanded/constructed“ loops
(cut up loop materials)(cut work tapes into loops)
5. Long term and short term exposure to the loops(5 min/10 minute/30min)
6. ‘Poetic extraction” of long, mid, and short-term exposure to loops
7. Archival juxtaposition of poetic extractions and loops for the next listener
8. Archival juxtaposition of poetic extractions and the ‘archival timelines’ of the ‘expanded constructed’ loops and their components

Essentially, the output of working with each loop is:

  • 1. A short “archival record” of what each tape is and when it’s from/sounds like
  • 2. An “expanded/constructed” loop placed on Soundcloud (30 min each)
  • 3. A “poetic extraction” of 5 minutes of listening to the Loop
  • 4. A “poetic extraction” of 10 minutes of listening to the Loop
  • 5. A “poetic extraction” of 30 minutes of listening to the Loop
  • 6. A short “conclusions” section juxtaposing the archival timeline text, the PE of the work tapes, and the PE of each time length

  • Vocabulary:

    “Work Tapes”: This term is how we will refer to the building blocks of each loop under consideration, each loop will be built from the sounds contained on 2 – 6 prerecorded cassette tapes drawn from a personal archive of tapes made to be collaged together for audio performances and sound design. work tapes are any tape made to eventually be sampled or manipulated into a composition or loop under consideration for this project.
    “Expanded/Constructed Loops”: this will be the working term for each loop constructed from the sounds from the Work Tapes. The loops will be 30 minutes in length, and the project will deal with exposure to each loop for times up to and including 30 minutes.
    “Poetic Extraction”: This will be our working term to refer to the process by which each listening subject records their experience during a loop exposure of various lengths. Each listening subject listens to each expanded/constructed loop, and writes down anything that comes to mind while listening for 3 minute, 10 minutes and 30minutes. Poetic extraction may include impressions and feelings, or it may be a moment to moment reportage of what a listener is hearing. It is a record of listening recorded in common language.

    main interests

      1. A Granular exploration of the transference between sounds and language (through the prism of the artist first, me)
      2. Exploration of how this process effects other listeners via an online survey.
      3. Exploration of other approaches to rendering the act of listening (and the act of creating in other mediums) into language, and importantly, narratively. Ie: “Poetic Extraction”
      4. Philosophical and cultural meditation on “the loop” and its use in music and sound-art (Tapes loops specifically: history, technical qualities)
      5. The trance inducing, and time dilating nature of applying loops to oneself. A tracking of the change in affect of the sound that does not in fact change. It is instead how the loop affects the listener that changes.
      6. A record of the trance state evoked by this research, the experience of these states, as rendered into a project called “100 Loops -The Exploded Archive“
      7. A research exploration of my own work laid out in the history of my experience as a sound artist who works primarily with “prerecorded” material.
      a rendering of “I perform with tapes i’ve made from my life” as an sound/memory/time travel experience. That is, the experience of the the tapes as sonic compositions I have myself made, juxtaposed with the experience of the tapes as a “found” archive, estranged from me, for this project specifically. We’re playing around with the futility of a ’neutral observer’ themes here.

    main themes

      ◆Self-ethnography of tape techniques (analogue recording and performance), my own work i.e. “making the loops” “composing with loops””listening for use in future loops”
      ◆ The self-reflexive model of sampling, sampling your past self
      ◆ The different relationships to sound ‘during performance’ and ‘during experimentation’
      ◆ contemplation of the present moment vs the future of sound, sampling
      ◆ stochastic composition methods, potentialities
      ◆ ‘physical composition’ of sample based art, the human compositional algorithm, the dance of the DJ ([[Algorithmic Gnosis]])
      ◆ sampling strategies that increase future usefulness, encouraging wide and luscious probabilities
      ◆ the whole project of using tapes as a compositional tool over the last 15 years
      ◆ the ‘transformation’ of performance – I am different when performing
      ◆ time/memory issues in self sampling
      ◆ Conclusions that can be drawn from the change in the poetic extractions

    from exposure to each time length of a loop:
    ⁃ How, in fact can we say, that the affect changes?
    ⁃ How do we measure the affect changing?
    ⁃ Is a change in language an appropriate way to gage change in affect?

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