With the 2017 programme, Sonic Acts continued the festival's gradual change in perspective, from The Dark Universe (2013) to planet Earth (The Geologic Imagination, 2015) to this year's The Noise of Being. This edition of the festival included an exhibition, a three-day conference, workshops, masterclasses, films, performances and club nights at various venues throughout Amsterdam.
Every day, artists, thinkers, hackers, diseases, natural disasters, stock market crashes, media, commodities, and fascist oligarchs administer us with a brutal portion of dissonance. Even our geological time is subject to dispute: the catastrophic Anthropocene epoch seems to have arrived, while the Crapularity, an era in which 90% of everything that surrounds us is deemed garbage, is just around the corner. But while confusion is paramount and insecurity dictates, no one would dare to refer to this time as the heyday of noise. There is more at stake than noise: we know too much to conflate these tragedies to a buzz.
In a culture insidiously regulated by rules, arrays, functions, borders and resolutions, the natural fluidity and irrational essence of being is trapped in rigid datasets, filed by drop-down windows and stuck in checkboxes. What is at stake here is the noise of being itself; not just human being or being human, but a subsistence and the understanding of being. Even though all of our troubles are measured, categorised and indexed, we still need to feel noise.
The Noise of Being was about what it also means to be human, to be part of a world that is an ever-changing network. As Jean-Luc Nancy writes: ‘Being is neither a being nor being. Being is feeling the noise of being, feeling its colour, its movement, its taste’. Being human takes place inside, outside and beyond the human: it happens within a mesh of shifting relations that include bacteria, companion species and inanimate objects — it involves the queer, the other and the non-human entities that we have (unintentionally) brought into being. Being human means to be noisy in a radically contingent world. What we do, think, feel and are, cannot be reduced to a discrete, meaningful signal.
The ruling hypernormalisation of the homo economicus, the calculating subject, has become a gross simplification of the troubled spectre that is ‘human’. Unlike the official nomenclature homo sapiens implies, humankind is neither singular nor wise. Humans are complex, emotional, dreamy and erratic creatures, an assemblage that we lose contact with when we have to act more and more like a human.
The Noise of Being strived for a (de-)alignment of actors: humankind, Earth, technology and all other beings, by means of several strategies: de-colonising thought, de-normalisation, de-capitalisation, the inversing of time, creating cracks, and imaginative speculation. It was an attempt to point a finger at pending errors and events and identifying which affordances, systems and conditions of being are at stake. But most of all, this was our chance to speculate about the strange and anxious state of being.
sonicacts.com/2017Programme GuidePhotos of Sonic Acts Festival 2017Videos of Sonic Acts Festival 2017
Le1f at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, Paradiso. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Lukas Marxt at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, Paradiso. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Eyal Weizman at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, De Brakke Grond. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Supreme Connections present Maryanne Amacher's Mini Sound Series at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, De Brakke Grond. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Erica Scourti at Sonic Acts Festival 2017, De Brakke Grond. Photo by Pieter Kers.