Is Hidden Histories a micro-FM station, a sound installation, an audio tour, or a local history trail? Perhaps it is none of the above, or perhaps all four. The existence of such a project in some ways exposes the lack of a critical sound-based vocabulary, especially when attempting to portray particular instances of the convergence of oral history and electronic media in their distinctiveness and social context.
My research today took a poetic wander. In thinking about the electromagnetic environment and how 'on land' we are submerged in modulated mumblings, my thoughts turned to the electromagnetically silent world of the deep, a world where radio and light don't penetrate, a world that can only be felt through other senses; the skin, the emotions, sound. Today I started looking at the Titanic.
This is a picture (2004) taken of the hull of the Titanic 92 years after she sunk. The wreck lies at approximately 3,500 metres below the surface of the water, which is the same distance as the tops of some alpine peaks. This very beautiful and peaceful photograph along with a selected few other relatively hi-res images can be found at the Boat Shed
All photographs by Robert Ballard, the original diver discoverer of the Titanic wreck. The image was retrieved from the above link.
Thanks to Doll Yoko for making us aware of Caliban and the Witch - Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici. In Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici looks at the transition from feudalism to capitalism from the point of view of 'women, the body and primitive accumulation'. Her key thesis is that the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th century were instrumental to establishing a new capitalist order through 'the development of a 'new sexual division of labour subjugating women's labour and women's reproductive function to the reproduction of the workforce.' Yet by telling the story also from Caliban's point of view, symbol of the 'trans-Atlantic' proleterian, Federici achieves what she claims: to transcend the dichotomy between "gender" and "class". This book is also a brilliant description of the process of primitive accumulation, in particular the enclosures of the common land starting at the end of the middle age and the various forms of resistance to that by renegade women and the 'motley crowd' of the working classes.
I particularly like the last part of the article where it says:
"The Street Radio project can then be interpreted as the nth disproof of the short-sighted forecast stating that oral tradition would have been wiped out by the computer society. Today we can notice an emergent new form of orality that should be defined as a "tertiary", in the School of Toronto tradition, that taught us to consider the electronic-era orality as a secondary one."
On Friday the 14th of March 2008 ten 'street radio' nodes went live in Southampton narrowcasting Hidden Histories -- stories from Southamptons Oral History Archive selected and arranged to correspond with the location of the 10 nodes.
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