Images: Dom Moore [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 21, 25]; Robin Mackay [9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24]
Sonic Faction, in its second iteration at KARST Contemporary Arts in Plymouth, presents an occasion for immersive collective listening, as a programme of three diverse ‘audio essays’ by Kode9, Justin Barton and Mark Fisher, and Robin Mackay invites listeners to experience the ways in which sound and voice can produce new sensory terrains and provoke speculative thought.
Kode9’s Astro-Darien (2022) is a sonic fiction about simulation, presenting an alternative history of the Scottish Space Programme, haunted by the ghosts of the British Empire.
Justin Barton and Mark Fisher’s On Vanishing Land (2006) is a dreamlike account of a coastal walk that expands into questions of modernity, capitalism, fiction, and the micropolitics of escape.
Robin Mackay’s By the North Sea (2021) is a meditation on time, disappearance and loss as heard through the fictions of Lovecraft, Ccru, and the spectre of Dunwich, the city that vanished beneath the waves.
For the opening event, all three artists joined the audience at KARST to discuss the potential of the audio essay as a medium and method that intensifies listening and unsettles the boundaries between existing forms: documentary, music, ambient sound, field recording, radio play….
The day of intense listening culminated in a night of sub-bass action at UNDER with DJs DJK Huysmans, Fraxinus, and Kode9.
The audio essays played in the gallery space at KARST during the following week, in an installation including additional audio archives and related materials.