Cross Waves #5: Ditto

Curated by Christof Migone

Cross Waves is a Canadian Sound Art series that includes performances and internet radio programs curated by eight media artists representing various regional and cultural perspectives in Canada.

April 25, 2015, 8 PM
601 Christie St #252, Toronto

Participating Artists

Pierre Andre Arcand
Kim Dawn
Dan Lander
Diane Landry
Micah Lexier
Kelly Mark
Ryan Park
Charles Stankievech
Hildegard Westerkamp


I. This is a sentence by Micah Lexier (00:54) (2010)

II. You will live by Pierre Andre Arcand (8:55) (1985)

III. I fall to pieces by Kim Dawn (1:26) (1996-1999)

IV. Get Out Of My Head, Get Out Of My Mind by Charles Stankievech (5:21) (2008)

V. Plongeurs by Diane Landry (6:00 excerpt from 40:06) (2007)

VI. I Really Should by Kelly Mark (49:16) (2002), live (first ever live performance of this piece)

VII. …for bodies near the surface of the earth by Ryan Park (78:00) (2009)

VIII. Breathing Room by Hildegard Westerkamp (3:03) (1990)

IX. Talking to a Loudspeaker by Dan Lander (24:29) (1988-90)


I. This is a sentence by Micah Lexier (00:54) (2010)
This is a sentence was made for a group show at the Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo, New York), where participating artists were asked for a statement and Lexier turned it into a text piece for recorded audio. Courtesy Birch Contemporary, Toronto. (http://micahlexier.com/)

II. You will live by Pierre Andre Arcand (8:55) (1985)
You will live piece appears on ERES +7, a CD made up of a series of sound sculptures on tape loops. All tracks were composed with the macchina ricordi, a tape recorder modified to permit simultaneous playback and overdub in open-ended looped cycles. Speaking, singing, noise, and instruments were recorded, processed, and structured through repetition and accretion. The process is one of constituting stratified sound space, multisource song, and the murmuring of multitudes—live. (http://avatarquebec.org/en/projects/eres-7/?k=Arcand)

III. I fall to pieces by Kim Dawn (1:26) (1996-1999)
I listened to songs I have nostalgia for on headphones. I sang unabashedly, without reserve or concern for singing in tune and recorded my singing without hearing myself. I used songs from Patsy Cline, ACDC, Blondie, Joan Jett, Madonna, etc.

IV. Get Out Of My Head, Get Out Of My Mind by Charles Stankievech (5:21) (2008
I have re-performed Bruce Nauman’s Get Out Of My Mind. Get Out Of This Room. (1968) and re-mixed it for wireless headphones. Unlike the original, Get Out Of My Head, Get Out Of My Mind (2008) denies architecture and explores the unique relation between virtual space and psychotopology. (http://www.stankievech.net/projects/getout/index.html)

V. Plongeurs by Diane Landry (6:00 excerpt from 40:06) (2007)
Based on the Flying School installation, audio version released on CD by Merles. Flying School stands amidst empty space like an impenetrable island. From it sprout 24 multicoloured umbrellas attached to different rods at different heights, but always within the range of a person’s stature. The umbrellas unfold and fold intermittently, slowly, like a person inhaling and exhaling. While apparently protecting themselves from an unlikely shower, they seem to chant a litany. The plaintive melody comes from little motor-driven accordions, of my making, that lie at the base of each umbrella. They further accentuate the lung effect and, often, the spectators adjust their own breathing accordingly. After a while, one also notices the silhouettes that the halogen lamps cast on the ceiling. These moving silhouettes, projected upwards, resemble a flower opening and then closing. The field of umbrellas moves unpredictably, its vagaries much like those of our climate. The motion follows an ambiguous sequence that echoes the accordion sounds, thus capturing the audience’s attention and altering the way they perceive the work. To animate Flying School, each umbrella-accordion is hooked up to a controller that in turn connects to a computer. A program enables me to compose a sequence that makes the umbrella-accordions unfold or fold one after another. The umbrella-accordions are a hybrid of light and sound, infused with elements of sculpture, musical craftsmanship, and electronics. (http://dianelandry.com/flying-school-2/)

VI. I Really Should by Kelly Mark (49:16) (2002)
This work utilizes text, which I had been playing with since 1996. The text is a stream of consciousness type list of things that “I really should” do such as “pay back my student loan”, “drink more water”, “take more chances”, “clean out the litter box” etc… Originally this took the form of a video monologue, and then later in 1999 it came to the surface again in my work as hand written black magic marker notes on refrigerators (view). In 2002 I reincarnated this list, which I increased to 1000 things “I really should” do, as an audio CD multiple. This latest version can be exhibited in various ways such as a minimalist wall mounted stainless steel sound box, with or without headphones; or simply playing through speakers directly in the gallery. The audio track is a monotone voice (myself) listing off all 1000 things I really should do. This work is clearly humorous and lighthearted in nature. I first began this inane list in order to poke fun at myself and to comment on my increasingly obsessive tendencies. However, this work is not limited to being simply autobiographical in nature. The tendency towards procrastination, whether it involves doing those things we have always wanted to, improving self-perceived character flaws or the mind numbingly repetitive tasks of everyday life, surely this proclivity is universal whatever the personal circumstance. (http://kellymark.com/OTHER_IRScd1.html)

VII. …for bodies near the surface of the earth by Ryan Park (78:00) (2009)
A list of contact points (for bodies near the surface of the earth). Dependent on mass, energy, momentum, trajectory, pressure, tension. Some observed, some proposed. Oblique or direct. Sustained or momentary. One after the other. Work commissioned by the Blackwood Gallery in response to Erika Keirulf’s video triptych Breathe(2007) for the Fall In/Fall Out exhibitions curated by Christof Migone in fall 2009. This audio work is part of the Blackwood Gallery’s Permanent Art Collection. (http://www.inconclusiveresults.com/work/fbntsote) (http://blackwoodgallery.ca/exhibitions/2009/fallin.html)

VIII. Breathing Room by Hildegard Westerkamp (3:03) (1990)
Music as breath-like nourishment. Breathing as nourishing musical space. The breath – my breath – is heard throughout the three minutes. All sorts of musical/acoustic things happen as I breathe in and out. Each breath makes its own, unique statement, creates a specific place in time. Meanwhile the heart beats on, propelling time from one breath to the next. (http://www.sfu.ca/~westerka/program_notes/breathingroom.html)

IX. Talking to a Loudspeaker by Dan Lander (24:29) (1988-90)
Although radio has been cited as a warm medium — due to its relative openness for interpretation when compared to television — it is nonetheless a one way medium. The listener is compelled, via the loudspeaker, to construct meaning without the benefit of a mechanism for re-address. In addition, radio as we have come to know it is limited by a host of predetermined factors: broadcast quality, balanced programming, congruent appeal, marketing research, the trained voice, restrictions to access, music distribution slavery, uniform time allocations, technical specifications, licensing regulations and so on. Talking to a Loudspeaker plays with some of these considerations in a work comprising the following sections: Mister Speaker; The Weather; The News; Call Now; Talking About Ether; Broadcast Quality; The Sponsors; We live in the Age…; Dead Air; Here Comes Everybody. (http://www.electrocd.com/en/cat/imed_9526/)

Ditto. Anaphora. Repeat. Reflect. Again. Remake. Ibidem. Mimesis. Ad nauseam. Recur. Same. Revisit. Reiterate. Imitate. Déjà vu. Return. Replay. Spitting image. Parrot. Reiterate. Retell. Reproduce. Echo. Parrot. Redundant. Copycat. Identical. Same. Replica. Recap. Copy. Echo. Quote. Replay. Regurgitate. Tautology. Insist. Replicate. Remake. Mirror. Mimic. Retell. Imitate. Trace. Duplicate. Insist. Trace. Mimic. Mirror. Duplicate. Mimesis. Copy. Revisit. Comeback. Replicate. Regurgitate. Double. Ad nauseam. Spitting sound. Impersonate. Reproduce. Simulate. Tautology. Redundant. Slapback. Cite. Reflect. Replica. Recur. Quote. Restate. Identical. Impersonate. Double. Copycat. Restate. Comeback. Again. Recap. Repeat. Simulate. Ape. Anaphora. Ibidem. Cite. Slapback. Return. Déjà vu. Ape. Ad infinitum. Ditto.

This is an essay that begins with this sentence. This is a text written by me and read by you. This is a group of words that begin after a period and end before another period. This is an essay that is not an essay except in the places where it borrows from other essays I’ve written for past or upcoming publications. This is a series of words that follow the confusing confession of the preceding words. This is a block of text comprised of reflexive and reflective sentences. This is a statement that need not be repeated. This is is not quite a phrase that begins every sentence. This is not this was nor this way, but a stilled pointer that points to itself. This is not this. This is a sentence that was sentenced.

Disintegrating, reintegrating, revolving, turning. Transmitting semblances and analog warblings from a different era. Ready to derail, plaintive, foreboding, pitch tilts, guttural gurgles, animalistic stutterances. Loops upon loops, becoming the same as they become other, becoming other as they no longer come to be sane. Resemblance through trembling tape. Recognize the call, as the whistle fades into the morass of analog infidelity.

I have knobby knees and a ribcage was a descriptive phrase I used to include in my bio years ago when I was primarily active in radio. Somehow the materiality of the flesh (well, the skeletal would be more precise) felt necessary to name, as a reminder of the remainder amidst the ethereal waves. Ryan Park’s lengthy piece seemingly exhausts all the possible connections between the two of you, us two, them two. Your chest, my stomach / My head, your throat / My hip, your hair / My armpit, your mouth / Your nose, my heel / My shoulder, your nose / Your thigh, my hand / Your wrist, my elbow / … Two times two, multiplying pairs. Patches, patchbay, patchords—patchords making patches into a patchbay—lubricated by textual tissue. Connect contexts. The fact of matters of fact.

Slow and methodical musicalized breathing. Plongeurs (divers) is the audio recording of an installation called Flying School. To dive into flight. Two contradictory actions. Plunging upward. They must still be learning. They look and listen to each other. They learn by copying and syncing. The accordions mimic and musicalize our breaths. We hear the room. We hear the machines, their whirr, their hum. They are us on idle. They are like us, but on idle. Down to the basics—involuntary muscle movement, all normal, the modulated lunging of lungs.

Technology can choose a genuinely human temporality only if it chooses to read a certain grace of poetry, a listening to finitude more truthful than technology’s disassemblage of space-time.(1)
– Avital Ronell

Repetition entangles recording, or is it that recording enables repetition? Both complicate performance in myriad ways; the ontological and phenomenological implications that Ronell addresses point to some of the resulting complexities. For her, poetics would seem to counteract the dangers or temptations of immortality; yet the ineffable permeates poetry and what could be more enduring than the inexpressible? Kelly Mark’s 2002 audio work I Really Should… is an anaphoric list of (broken) promises she incants in a style forsaking histrionics. On one hand they are uttered in a relaxed manner, on the other, they come at you in a relentless staccato—like an extended telegram that shorthands a life. I Really Should… is a recurring accounting of the disparity between an actual life lived and an endless set of idealized selves. Mark describes the piece as a lighthearted study on procrastination, and it certainly has that deadpan disposition but the juxtaposition between mundane entries (I really should eat more bran) and momentous ones (I really should be faithful to my ideals), between retrospective ones (I really should have used a pencil) and far fetched ones (I really should become a spokesperson for my generation) speak poignantly to a form of autobiography that foregoes the factual and linear in favor of a monotone ode. What underlines the use of the repeated modal auxiliary verb is the presumption that she really does not …connect more with my family, …listen to more jazz, …make better choices in my life. The string of wishes remaining unfulfilled constitute a solipsistic version of a Don Juan performance—in other words, the failed promises are made to herself.(2) But it would be a mistake to interpret the ‘I’ of I Really Should… as being solely Mark’s, the ‘I’ should be multiplied by at least as many as the one thousand entries of this audio work, if not more. Since the self-absorption is an artifice here, the piece reflectively activates a plural function—the ‘I’ is ‘we’.

[T]he breath does not enter a void but pushes the adjacent body from its seat; and the body thus displaced drives out in turn the next; and by this law of necessity every such body is driven round towards the seat from which the breath went out and enters therein, filling it up and following the breath; and all this takes place as one simultaneous process, like a revolving wheel, because no void exists.(3)
– Plato

Breathing Room (1990) by Hildegard Westerkamp is an electroacoustic composition that functions as an exemplar of breath’s interior/exterior, input/output, individual/collective rhythmicity. She uses her breathing as structuring device to fade in and out the environmental sounds thereby rendering the somatic porous in between the silent punctuations. The body is not solitary but mingled with the outside in all of its heterogeneity. Earlier in the Timaeus than the aforementioned section on breath, Plato introduces the much discussed term chora which one can attempt to describe but remains indescribable, can determine only as undetermined, can define best as undefinable. Elisabeth Grosz speaks of it as “the condition for the genesis of the material world.”(4) So it precedes and makes possible. Yet it also functions as a marker of excess, as Adriana Cavarero phrases it, “the chora not only exceeds the symbolic but also ends up being necessary to the productive work of the symbolic itself.”(5) Julia Kristeva, in turn, chora is “indifferent to language, enigmatic and feminine; this space underlying the written is rhythmic, unfettered, irreducible to its intelligible verbal translation; it is musical, anterior to judgment.”(6) The reason for this foray into the chora is that I would like to posit the breath as an instantiation of the chora (perhaps even the sole one). At least a physio-poetic rendition of breath—both concept and action—one boundless rather than one delimited by mere survival. In other words, in excess of life, but (in keeping with the chora) necessary for it. Westerkamp’s Breathing Room rhythms breath in such a way that it encompasses both spatial and temporal parameters, but in a way that “precedes evidence, verisimilitude, spatiality, and temporality.”(7) The paradox therein glares, but contingency is a characteristic of the chora, and I would contend it to be its force. Breathing Room opens the field, it does not contain the room, it just breathes it, it fluxes it.(8)

The pauses during the instrumental sections. The ‘don’t laugh’ at the beginning. The cringed listening. The wanton disregard for pitch. The abandon in music. Part of Cover(s), a series of vulnerable renditions of immediately recognizable songs (thirteen exist on a self-published cdr). Repertoire of collective nostalgia. What happens when the listener singsalong—a shadow singing, a singing that follows, a singing that leaks the song through the insularity of headphones to the air for all to hear.

The calling of ‘Mister Speaker,’ the variations on broadcast quality and the snicker at our phobia with dead air, are memorable moments in the pantheon of radio art classics. With a keen ear for the incision, Lander takes your radio, sets it on its back and takes its components apart. When it is returned to you, you end up unsure if you want it work anymore. The space the listener can occupy in this work is expansive, the narrative threads just hanging there, up for grabs. Lander refers to the notion that his work constitutes a kind of writing in sound, primarily to differentiate the work from music. However, as writing, it is of a particular kind, written with radio in mind and, as such, contrasts explicitly with the hegemony of existing radio. This is a radio rendered vulnerable for it retains as much of the body as may be possible in this, the thinnest of air. It is in these inscriptions that radio art finds its tenuous home.(9)

Nauman’s Room/Mind duel aggressively staged in his 1968 sound installation Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room shifts to a Head/Mind binary in Charles Stankievech’s Get Out of My Head, Get Out of My Mind (2008). Has the room been swallowed by the head in this revision? Where is my mind? Charles channels the Pixies, and perhaps ELO’s or Kylie Minogue’s I can’t get you out of my head. In the installation version of the piece, the wireless headphones sit on a shelf, they can be donned or just eavesdropped. The volume here is layered by the solipsistic loops of the content and its vehicle. The artist states that the piece “denies architecture and explores the unique relation between virtual space and psychotopology.” Indeed, the room has been excised (twice, the one in Nauman’s original and the space of the gallery where the piece is presented), but the construction is now between the ears, immersed in a solitary exercise of soliloquized listening (another doubling). Headphones, unless they are integral to the work (which is the case here), should be a curatorial or artistic choice of last resort. Headphones may be practical but they reinforce the pretense that a work has a non-porous integrity that must be maintained when it is presented. Exhibition and presentation conditions are often vexed circumstances, the public inadvertently bumps into things, or they intentionally steal, or they miss the point, or they quite generously offer a reading not foretold by either the artist or the curator—in other words, an exhibition is always partial because a) a space is heterotopic and b) reception is beyond our control. These two conditions resound with intensity via the anaphoric Get Out.(10)


Repetition is not generality. Repetition is a necessary and justified conduct only in relation to that which cannot be replaced. Repetition as a conduct and as a point of view concerns non-exchangeable and non-substitutable singularities. If exchange is the criterion of generality, theft and gift are those of repetition. There is, therefore, an economic difference between the two. To repeat is to behave in a certain manner, but in relation to something unique or singular which has no equal or equivalent.
(Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 1)

Recognition may be defined by the harmonious exercise of all the faculties upon a supposed same object: the same object may be seen, touched, remembered, imagined or conceived. As Descartes says of the piece of wax: ‘It is of course the same wax which I see, which I touch, which I picture in my imagination, in short the same wax which I thought it to be from the start.’ No doubt each faculty—perception, memory, imagination, understanding—has its own particular given and its own style, its peculiar ways of acting upon the given. An object is recognised, however, when one faculty locates it as identical to that of another, or rather when all the faculties together relate their given and relate themselves to a form of identity in the object.
(Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 133)

The methods or media of mechanical reproduction—printing, microfilm, photo-offset, mimeograph, ditto, blueprinting, and so on—might vary, but the work of research requires reproducing because scholars everywhere need access to materials. Reproducing means access. Access enables the scholarly production of knowledge.
(Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge: Towards a Media History of Documents, 60)

Repetition and recollection are the same movement, except in opposite directions, for what is recollected has been, is repeated backward, whereas genuine repetition is recollected forward. Repetition, therefore, if it is possible, makes a person happy, whereas recollection makes him unhappy.
(Soren Kierkegaard, Repetition, 131)

If one does not have the category of recollection or of repetition, all life dissolves into an empty, meaningless noise. Recollection is the ethical view of life, repetition the modern; repetition is the interest of metaphysics, repetition is the watchword in every ethical view.
(Soren Kierkegaard, Repetition, 149)

Each repetition will be different to a degree, because there will be at least microvariations that give it its own singular experiential quality and make it an objective interpretation of the generic motif. The semblance makes each particular a singular-generic. It is because it presents difference through variation that it is a thinking-feeling of a margin of changeability.
(Brian Massumi, Semblance and Event, 50)

What the linkage resembles in migration is only itself: its repeated rhythm. Internal to each of the objective combinations, the unitary, perceptually-felt movement qualifies the nature of the event as a launching. Jumping across the gap from one event to the next, it echoes itself in repetition. It resembles itself across the gaps. Taken separately, each instance of its repetition resembles not so much other events, as the echoing-itself. Behind, across, or through repetition, the perceptually-felt movement exemplifies itself as a species of movement-feeling. It is now a self-exemplifying quality of movement beholden to neither car nor ball, as indifferent to the cuestick as to the traffic light, inhabiting its own qualitative environment, in migratory independence from any given context. Pure self-qualifying movement: an autonomy of launching.
(Brian Massumi, Semblance and Event, 108)

If the event can be repeated, it can be repeated by anyone, not just its “author.”
(Liz Kotz, Words to Be Looked At, 87)

By its constitution as a collection of repeatable signs, language is already a found object. In Bakhtinian terms, the word always “belongs to another.”
(Liz Kotz, Words to Be Looked At, 102)

The writing machine is on the side of death, absence, and the uncanny autonomy of representation as replication. Derrida compares writing and marking to machines: “To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a kind of machine that is in turn productive, that my future disappearance in principal will not prevent from functioning and from yielding, and yielding itself to, reading a rewriting.” Writing and leaving traces are both about a kind of radical dispossession: “I” the author give up the marks “I” have made to a future from which I will have disappeared. Writing here refers to my eventual failure to be present: writing, like a machine, can always survive its author/maker.
(Catherine Liu, Copying Machines, 35-36)

[T]he self is no longer as clearly separable from its Alter. For now the self is inscribed in the Alter that the self needs to define itself against. This accounts for the combination of fear and pleasure that mimetically capacious machines can create when interacted with mimetic reflections of the West as portrayed in the bodies, eyes, and handiwork of its Alters. Such interaction creates mimetic excess—mimetic self-awareness, mimesis turned on itself, on its colonial endowment, such that now, in our time, mimesis as a natural faculty and mimesis as a historical product turn in on each other as never before.
(Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity, 252)

If “storytelling is always the art of repeating stories,” it goes without saying that not every repetition is art. In “the age of mechanical reproduction,” not every reiteration is endowed with what “The Storyteller” calls “the gift of retelling,” a gift which is specifically, says Benjamin, a listener’s gift—an insight born out of the capacity for silent listening. Benjamin’s “gift of retelling” is both autobiographical and theoretical: it is at once a literary gift and a historical force of perception; it is compellingly subjective (it pays the ultimate subjective price) and compellingly objective (it speaks with the intentionless authority of history). There are various ways of “repeating stories”—with or without historical surprises, with or without new meaning, with or without historical authority. Benjamin’s historical retelling of the story of the suicide is authoritative, because it makes transmissible what it repeats, because it rescues the past suicide from its meaninglessness and from its original forgettability, in endowing it with a transmissible historical intelligibility.
(Shoshana Felman, Benjamin’s Silence, 231)

Every one always is repeating the whole of them. Every one is repeating the whole of them, such repeating is then always in them and so sometimes some one who sees them will have a complete understanding of the whole of each one of them, will have a completed history of every man and every woman they ever come to know in their living, every man and every woman who were or are or will be living whom such a one can come to know in living. This then is a history of many men and women, sometime there will be a history of every one. As I was saying every one always is repeating the whole of them. As I was saying sometimes it takes many years of hearing the repeating in one before the whole being is clear to the understanding of one who has it as a being to love repeating, to know that always every one is repeating the whole of them.
(Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans, 293)


1. Avital Ronell, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, 196.
2. Shoshana Felman discusses Don Juan throughout the aforementioned The Scandal of the Speaking Body, its subtitle is Don Juan with J. L. Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages. Repetition permeates Felman’s text, another text that explicitly takes up Felman’s analysis of Don Juan, turning him into a DJ and integrating a reading of technology within the act of the repeated promise, is Catherine Liu, Copying Machines, University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
3. Plato, Timaeus, trans. R. G. Bury, Harvard University Press, 1989, 211 [79c].
4. Elizabeth Grosz, “Women, Chora, Dwelling” in Space, Time, and Perversion, New York: Routledge, 1995, 115.
5. Adriana Cavarero, For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, Stanford University Press, 2005, 135.
6. Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984, 29. Cavarero also cites this passage (also p.135), interestingly both of us excise Kristeva’s ending phrase to that sentence: “[…] but restrained by a single guarantee: syntax.”
7. Kristeva, 26.
8. Sections 5 and 6 are culled from an essay on Canadian artists working with sound and performance, to be published in a forthcoming anthology featuring women working in performance.
9. Excerpt from liner notes I wrote for Dan Lander’s CD Zoo in 1995 (Montreal: Empreintes Digitales). Repeating these words now, twenty years later, is an attempt to overlap current concerns with those of the past and track the resulting fallout. In other words, it’s an uncanny exercise mixing misrecognition and recurrence.
10. Section 10 is an excerpt from “Heard and Misheard Notes” a curatorial essay for the forthcoming Volumes publication (Blackwood Gallery, 2015).