PEAKS #2: Noise

Words: Nataša Cordeaux

The night was thought-provoking, engaging and certainly, disruptive. For the unintentional noise-listeners such as myself, we were dragged and collectively scratched our way down the rabbit hole where Noise echoed and surrounded us, seemingly, irrationally and erratically. Nonetheless, whilst in its depth, amongst the clattering of the Mad Hatter's china, I found there to be method behind the madness...

The nature of 'Noise' is vast, subjective and nuanced, whilst also bracketed inside the terms: 'aggressive', 'dissonant', 'challenging', 'amoral', 'intrusive', 'unwanted', 'unintentional', 'protest', 'confrontational', 'intended'...

The painting we are left with resembles the distorted self-reflection found in the broken mirror. With many layers, viewers reflect on Noise on multiple levels. It breaks our over-arching means of grouping sound into a song, and forces us to pay attention to the individual noises, to constantly react and situate ourselves in relation to that which intrudes and intentionally disrupts (our expectations, our surroundings, us...)

Noise helps to define our space and feelings too...

For me, the reactions to Noise on the night provided a very interesting insight into social behaviour, constructs and individual relationships by acting as a medium in which we are confronted and pushed to face the distorted Self. 

Noise, in its most experimental form, throws itself down before you like a gauntlet - it demands to know: how the fuck are you going to deal with it?

Noise broke people's sense of comfortable, social norms within our venue, the jazz 'club' space. It pushed past Jazz's edge, where sound broke traditions, and it even pushed individuals out of the room. It forced me to confront personal anxieties around control, around inability to control - the element of the unknown -Surprise! And Noise asks you, how are you going to deal with it? So, I held my breath and decided to swim in it, to try to ride the unstoppable wave of Noise seeping through the retro speakers. And yet, I found to keep my head just above the surface, to try and control the experience slightly, I ended up writing. So, poetry was how I dealt with the gauntlet of Noise...

In a sense, there are many parallels to be drawn from Noise and Silence. Both are confronting, and we assume that they call for us to fill them with our intentions, contexts, purpose, politics and then Silence and Noise carry on regardless, forcing us to go beyond this. Hence the difficulty of so many to finally 'crack' meditation, or to get to the state where Noise can be enjoyed in 'a bubble of being, without thought, just allowing one to be in the body' - to paraphrase curator Ellie Green - opposed to just being irritating and unwanted, 'bad' sounds.

A final thought, to this long winded and slightly (but appropriately) disjointed commentary: what struck me in particular, was the notion that Noise develops from the appreciation, the draw to the unintentional, unwanted, 'Other' sounds. Perhaps, Noise is thus sound which is not desired; it is outcasted, misplaced, out-of-context,. And then, here we are, at Peaks, in a dark venue where those noises which are socially and subconsciously pushed to the edges, are being reappropriated, repurposed - becoming intended before us. Fascinating - what are we seeking when we desire to listen to Noise, to associate with or 'play' sound's ultimate 'other' - 'Noise'? Are we looking to simply challenge the mainstream, society, convention - or do we challenge ourselves? 

Now, Noise isn't for everyone, and I won't pretend I'll be listening to noise on my weekends, but I recommend you go and listen to Noise, meditate on it - see how far down the rabbit hole you are willing to go...

Making Cities: Claire Malakia & Creative Placemaking

Making Cities: Claire Malakia & Creative Placemaking

Noise: Podcast

Noise: Podcast