Through the air with the greatest of ease: Phonogenie

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This audio work emerges from an exploration of songs as temporal and affective phenomena for ‘Fluid Sounds’. Film-maker Jean Epstein proposed that: “It’s across the sound fields of the vast world that we must spread our microphones… the important thing is to place oneself in positions which do not exclude the unexpected” (Epstein 2012).

Working on the islands of Brittany, Epstein was engaged with the psychic, philosophical and affective resonances of altering the time of sonic experience through phonogenie: sound magic. For the Fluid Sounds workshops in Copenhagen and London, participants contributed ‘remembered songs’  in response to prescribed scores, working on-site and telematically from Faroe Islands and the UK: singing and discussing sources, memory and affect.

The workshops explored disorientation through vocal performativity, sharing songs in the space between our embodied island selves. Sounds and ideas emerged from the shared experience of affective listening and liminal silences, as well as vocal work. This piece draws the workshop material together with reflections on the potentialities of working with the techné of recording, altering rhythm and time-base, into an expanded, collective, co-operative and transgressive sonic archipelago.

GO BACK TO FOCUS: Fluid Sounds


Benjamin, W. (1999) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. H. Arendt (ed.), Illuminations, trans.H. Zorn, London: Pimlico, pp. 211-244.

Bakhtin, M. (1984) Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics [1929]. Caryl Emerson (ed. and trans.): Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Burgin, V. (2004) The Remembered Film, London: Reaktion Books.

Epstein, J. (1993) The Cinema Continues (from Cinéa-Ciné 1, Nov. 1930).  Abel, R. (ed.), French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol. 2, Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.

Epstein, J. (2012) The Close Up of Sound (from Esprit de cinéma, 1955). S. Keller and J. Paul (eds.), Jean Epstein, Critical Essays and New Translations, (trans. Franck le Gac). Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press.

Mulvey, L.  (2006) Death 24x a second: stillness and the moving image, London: Reaktion Books.

Burns, R. (1783), Green Grow The Rashes 
Leybourne, G. and Lyle, G. (1867) The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze 



Audio Papertemporalitysongsslow-motionphonogenieaffect

About the author(s)

Anne Robinson’s experimental practice is concerned with the perception and politics of time passing: duration, frame, exposure, sound and movement. She holds a practice-led PhD: The Elusive Digital Frame and the Elasticity of Time in Painting. During 2013-15, shows included: Inside Out Blues for ‘Capital of Culture’ Marseilles, The Result of This Deception, Lumen Festival, Vital Excess, Cass London, Thrashing in the Static, CGP, Ghost On the Wire, Deptford X and Folkestone. She presented: Enlarger Than Life: Song-Films and Irrational Gestures at psi20 Shanghai and participated in GHost 13 at UA/CSM and Feminism and Subjectivities at UA/Chelsea. Curatorial projects: Over Time (2014) and Supernormal (2011-15).

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