A long-distance correspondence reflecting on the infravoice of a blue whale and other so-called “silent” subjects.
An experiment in listening to frequencies beyond human sensorial range, Silent Whale Letters is a long-distance correspondence intimately attuned to the infravoice of a blue whale, a document held silent in the sound archive, and other so-called "silent" subjects.
As part of an ongoing collaboration between Ella Finer and Vibeke Mascini the letters consider how the silent document shifts the logic of the archive, figuring listening as a practice of preservation.
As the letters attune to the ocean loud with communications across time and space, the authors write about the movement of matter, of energies, wavelengths, currents and how the ocean preserves as it disperses what it carries. How does working with what we cannot see, or even hear within range, shift the parameters of attention? How does the energetic archival space of the ocean agitate and disrupt claims to knowledge, history, and power?
Moving through three years of call and response the book unfolds through “a joint meditation on the transformative potential of a note, a voice, carried from saltwater into the archive” (Rebecca Giggs).
They chart a process that is equally conceptual and intimate, theoretical and deeply personal, moving through discussions of (amniotic) undercurrents, call-and-response mechanisms, energetic wavelengths, oceanic and archival memory, mysterious scales, and the watery acoustic commons.
Kate Briggs, Emma McCormick Goodhart
Copublished with TBA21
About the Author
Ella Finer’s work in sound and performance spans writing, composing, and curating with a particular interest in how women’s voices take up space; how bodies acoustically disrupt, challenge, or change occupations of space. Her research continuously queries the ownership of cultural expression through sound; often through collaborative projects centering listening as a practice of deep attention, affiliation, and reciprocity.
Vibeke Mascini explores through sculptures, installations, video, and text, a scaling of abstract phenomena into a sensorial scope, with the intention to seek agency from intimacy. In long-term collaboration with scientists, engineers, government employees, and musicians, she proposes a conscious understanding of electric energy as a statement of interconnectedness and entanglement—between species, media and nature, matter and energy. Her publications include The Dent of Walter Umenhofer (2015), Cloud Inverse (2017), and The world is a verb (2023).
Kate Briggs is a writer and translator based in Rotterdam, NL, where she teaches on the Masters in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute. She is the author of This Little Art (2017) and Entertaining Ideas (2019).