I think of Writing Sound as I read Philosophy of Landscape 3, a text published by Georg Simmel in 1913. He shows how landscape perceived as a unity is in fact the result of an activity of the human gaze – of the artistic gaze in particular – that fills in a number of discreet signals and constructs a landscape, every time anew. Simmel uses the German word ‘Stimmung’ meaning ‘atmosphere’, ‘mood’, and ‘tuning’. For him, mood, atmosphere and tuning do not portray a landscape as a whole still entity but make it over and over, across fluctuations and nuances that register how we situate ourselves in it: a construction that does not have to do with permanence, but exists and changes culturally and historically.
I would like to expand this notion of ‘Stimmung’ from looking to writing, as an activity shaped by the impermanence of sounds and by how we tune in them. I would then think of writing sound as a landscape insisted upon and modified by personal instances of listening, and of remembering listening; a collection and a recollection of places, mixed with invention but true to the score drawn by each singular experience.
I think of writing sound as the trace of the experience that makes it.
It conveys the sense of shaping, step by step along the journey of the listening and the writing ‘I’, words into places at once familiar and strange.