67 Blind scapes

Zehar #67

67 Blind scapes

Antonie van Leeuwenhoeck was born and lived in Holland in the 17th century. He left school early and was employed as a porter at Delft town hall. Yet, Leeuwenhoeck spent his free time polishing and grinding small lens. This hobby became so absorbing that over time he improved his tools and managed to grind small lends that could amplify the object 300 times. He did not invent the microscope, as that instrument had been invented decades earlier by Galileo Galilei as some believe, while others accredit the invention to Zacharias Janseen. Even though he had no formal scientific knowledge and was only guided by curiosity, Antoine was the first to observe things that had never been previously seen: for example, globules of our blood or the sperm of some species, along with the protozoan and bacteria that live in the water. In short, by taking and improving optical technology of that time, he was the first to discover the microbiological landscape that had been previously unknown.

We define landscape as the expanse of land or space that can be seen from a given spot. If this definition is taken in its literal sense, any acceptance and definition of landscape is inexorably based on the subject that observes and the object that is observed. There is no landscape without those two elements, even if the space remains. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the landscape is a cultural construct, as in the last instance it is a more subjective way of depicting our environment. Thus, we would not be on the wrong track if we said that the technologies used to analyse our environment over the last 200 years have blurred the always sketchy boundary between reality and representation. This gives landscape a veracity –credibility– that is not justified and it sometimes provides incessant exercises to idealise our vital space. Many of these exercises have irreparably conditioned the very idea of landscape and we have also often converted them into essential tools to understand our environment.

In the same way that Leeuwenhoeck can be said to have invented microbiology with his lens, we can also claim to have invented and improved the concept of soundscape, thanks to the opportunities that microphony offers to analyse and understand the sounds that make up our environment more precisely. And that is just one example, as similar conclusions can be reached about all the appliances that we carry around with us.

Nonetheless, now we have begun to use concepts such as interactive, virtual or augmented reality as a result of the digital technologies, we find it hard to determine what is and what may be the landscape, as we are still not able to imagine how many new landscapes those inventions will open up for us. In other words, we still cannot work how many listening place and panoramas will ensue. Yet before we become obsessed with a staunch defence of technology, it is essential to analyse the relationship that we create with technology, particularly with the appliances that we accept and use to understand our environment. In his article in this issue, José Luis de Vicente thus suggests that maintaining the collective capacity to improvise with technology can become a fundamental struggle. Or rather, he accepts the pre-designed representations in the leap of space to the landscape, yet vindicates the capacity to play with the technology, by putting on one side the disagreements that arises between these two uses and thus looking for new authentic landscapes. This is precisely what Leeuwenhoeck did several centuries ago.

The texts and sounds that you will find on the following pages focus on the landscape and perspective starting from varied and contrasting experiences, whether from fiction, personal diaries, the vantage points that history or philosophy offer, or from listening at the boundaries to which our sense of sound does not reach. In short, they show a series of blind landscapes, along with the rigid depiction of the official landscape.


Hots!Radio#32: "Various: Blind Landscapes" 

is available for listening from the website.

With pieces by Orquesta del Caos, Stéphane Garin Slavek Kwi, Iñigo Telletxea, Nader Koochaki, Xabier Erkizia, Tzesne, Hildegard Westerkamp, Juan Cantizzan and Slavek Kwi

Issue Number 67 of ZEHAR, published regularly by Arteleku, is given over to the theme of landscape. This podcast contains the tracks in the CD distributed with the magazine. It is partly intended to illustrate or sonorize (and even sonify) some of the texts using different kinds of field recordings made by a number of different phonographists. To get a copy of the magazine (+ CD), just contact Arteleku. You can also download it in PDF format by following the links you can find in the link to HOTS!Radio.


ZEHAR_67_EN.pdf — PDF document, 3969Kb

Aitor Izagirre

Aesthetic theory and the natural environment: an explanation

*Full version of the article published in paper.

Few subjects of philosophical thought have proved so resistant to clarity as what is known as «aesthetics»; yet at the same time, despite their murkiness, few waters have invited so many divers. Seldom too, have so many writers insisted on continuing to build the house despite the evidence of such weak foundations. A linguistic corpus made from the philosophical texts of the last century would shows the omnipresence of the term «aesthetics» in all its variations, coupled with a lack of texts seeking to shed light on its essential concepts. This is an unfinished task to which everyone researching in the field should to some extent contribute —or at the very least, they should not obstruct that task.

IZAGIRRE_EN.pdf — PDF document, 579Kb

André-Louis Paré

Spaces, landscapes, frontiers

«Unlike others, today’s utopia has found its place: the planet itself».
Marc Augé

Art and space

In a brief text from 1962, entitled Art and Space, Martin Heidegger reaffirms his desire to place the act of philosophy around our relationship with space. In Being and Time, his masterpiece from 1927, he underlined the importance of thinking of our relationship with the world in terms of spatiality. But from the fifties onwards, he questioned this existential link that we have with the space considered as the residence of humanity on earth. This is because, for Heidegger, space makes sense in inhabited places. To exist is to inhabit a space. Put another way, residence is the essential feature of the human condition. And it is precisely at the moment that the arts of space incorporate places that the work of art finds its true dimension. As «implementation of truth», its function is to unite and bring things together with the aim of making humanity’s stay possible on an inhabitable earth.

PARE_EN.pdf — PDF document, 1394Kb

Jakoba Errekondo, Asier Galdos

The cultural landscape

Our cultural concerns have a very decisive impact on our landscape designs, where the starting point is agriculture. As is true everywhere, the way of life of our people and the history of their territory go hand in hand. All our cultures are based on our lands, including the things that our ancestors thought and built. Therefore, the landscapes that we create, we cultivate, design or foster are always cultural, rather than pure aesthetics. We do not advocate the landscape as a mere spectacle. The landscape is the organisation of the territory, it is economics, it is urban planning, it is quality of life, it is sustainability, it is communal work, it is politics… The landscape is country.

ERREKONDO_EN.pdf — PDF document, 794Kb

Hildegard Westerkamp

Speaking from inside the soundscape

Presented at Hör Upp! Stockholm Hey Listen!
Conference on Acoustic Ecology, June 8-13, 1998

I was sitting in the train to Stockholm. I had a Eurailpass, so I could travel first class. Within ten minutes after the train’s departure the businessmen around me (I was the only woman) started to make calls on their cell phones. Since I wanted to do some work I got very irritated. I got up and said to the two gentlemen closest to me, «Excuse me, but is this an office or a train?» One of them answered, «If you don’t want to listen to our phonecalls there is a room you can go to», and he pointed to the back of the car. I answered, «I don’t feel I should have to move, as this is my reserved seat. Perhaps those who make phonecalls should go to that room». We were both agitated. He then said that if two people were having a conversation near me they would talk just as loudly, and I said, «No, in my experience people who are on the phone speak much more loudly». He said that that was not his experience and besides he had not really wanted to talk to me this morning.

WESTERKAMP_EN.pdf — PDF document, 675Kb

José Luis Carles

Sound maps and representations. Contributions and evolution

We live in a world that is rich in sounds. We are constantly affected by sounds, and it is almost impossible to escape their influence; they provide us with a link to our surroundings; they can provoke deep emotion or profound irritation ambient sound contains a great degree of complexity, not only because of the wealth and variety contained in the blend of everyday sounds, but also because of the way sound interacts with space, topography, surfaces, meteorological features, materials, textures, etc. each of which acts on the sounds, contributing to giving each specific site its own identity by adding sensory, evocative and cultural qualities.

CARLES_EN.pdf — PDF document, 1913Kb

Kim Cascone

Notes from...

In 1867, the Catalan visionary, inventor, and submariner Narcis Monturiol launched the world's first self-powered submarine. The ship, christened the 'Ictíneo II,' was a culmination of thousands of man-hours of scientific research into every conceivable aspect of sub-aquatic vessel design and navigation.

CASCONE_ES_EN.pdf — PDF document, 831Kb

Nader Koochaki

Dorsal landscape

When the editor told me that he would like to feature my project in this issue, I realised its potential relationship with the landscape. My aim is to reflect on the notion of intermediation through this project focusing on shepherding. Therefore, I will here consider one of the aspects: the project to record the flocks of sheep with more than one hundred animals in Gipuzkoa.

KOOCHAKI_EN.pdf — PDF document, 881Kb

José Luis de Vicente

In the outer space

This changes everything. Again.

While I was writing this article in the summer of 2010, the mobile telephone operators in Spain were marketing the fourth generation of the iPhone, Apple’s flagship phone. The scenes used for the media launch are now so familiar that the slogan used for the product seems rather ironic: «This changes everything. Again». Yet again, they were huge queues in the stores featured on the TV news, a calculated lack of stock that meant that many people were left without the product, and the resigned indignation of having to pay the telephone companies that managed to turn the act of contracting a new line into a sophisticated form of extortion.

DEVICENTE_EN.pdf — PDF document, 1523Kb

Neus Miró

Beyond landscape

«There is no such thing as a dull landscape».
John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Landscape aldizkaria, 1951.

Landscape has expanded its repertoire and has done so in such a way that the term is no longer convenient and/or appropriate to designate the subject of many current studies of those matters. Contemporary practice more commonly and correctly refers to the subject being studied and explored as «place», «territory» or «site». Attentive and analytical eyes being cast towards places is one of the characteristics of a significant part of contemporary artistic production, which includes political and subjective questioning of the subject being explored.

MIRO_EN.pdf — PDF document, 817Kb

Joaquín Ivars, Gail Wight

On complexity II

y+y+y Art and Complexity Sciences
Joaquín Ivars


Gail Wight

CUADERNILLO_EN (2).pdf — PDF document, 840Kb
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