'[...] it is [...] precarity that while creating anxiety and instability for many, also enables new alliances and connections to be made.'
'Precarity is the condition of our being vulnerable to others. Unpredictable encounters transform us; we are not in control, even of ourselves. Unable to rely on a stable structure of our community, we are thrown into shifting assemblages, which remake us as well as others. We can’t rely on the status quo; everything is in flux, including our ability to survive. Thinking through precarity changes social analysis. A precarious world is a world without teleology. Indeterminacy, the unplanned nature of time, is frightening, but thinking through precarity makes it evident that indeterminacy also makes life possible.'
depths of intensity, machines, materials colliding, layers of voices
punctuation of material processes; the release of air
Thinking through precarity foregrounds vulnerability and opens up the possibility for transformative encounter
rhythmic bass articulates the material volume of the space
music regulates the sonic situation here; regulates the possibility for encounter; regulates the possibility to overhear and to be overheard
punctuations and intensities of material transformation. Are these the sounds of extra-verbal collaboration?
listening reveals the space as porous, the outside enters
negotiating with each other and with the the sounds that claim the space
rustling, spinnning, clicking; listening to material processes, and to and with each other
words or sounds or words: human and non-human
rippling voices, a rush of stories
Following multispecies anthropologist Anna Tsing, we might foreground precarity and interdependence by conceiving of the Foodhall as an open-ended assemblage:
'Ecologists turned to assemblages to get around the fixed and sometimes bounded connotations of an ecological “community.” The question of how the various species in a species assemblage influence each other – if at all – is never settled; some thwart (or eat) each other; others work together to make things possible; still others just happen to find themselves in the same place. Assemblages are open-ended gatherings. They allow us to ask about communal effects without assuming them. They show us potential histories in the making.'
The Foodhall assemblage encompasses a building, the human and non-human actors that assemble in it, including animals and materials. As as open-ended assemblage, it is never fixed or bounded, but in a constant state of becoming.
'Patterns of unintentional coordination develop in assemblages. To notice such patterns means watching the interplay of temporal rhythms and scales in the divergent lifeways that gather.'
food is at the centre;
a catalyst for collaboration
voiced observations, shuffling, clicking negotiating
Sound's shifting agitations and fluctuations bind us to the dynamics, interplays and varying intensities of Foodhall’s assemblage.
Listening is a means for attunement to these complex interplays.
a shift in intensity; sounds that can be felt, that obfuscate conversations, forcing my listening to re-adapt - the non-verbal takes over?
In listening I open out to receive all that may be heard within this open-ended assemblage
'[Jane Bennett] reaches far and wide to encourage a sensibility tuned to the "energetics" of being in the world. A world of animations and vibrations, echoes and agitations, that embeds us within the densities and opacities to which a sonic sensibility may afford deeper engagement, for it is "through sound, through the various refrains we invent, repeat, and catch from nonhumans, [that] we receive news of the cosmic energies to which we humans are always in close, molecular proximity.'
variation of paces, intensities, depths of agitation and vibration
The varying rhythms of the assemblage—the diverse happenings that are staged—produce different thicknesses and conditions of sounding intensity.
sparsity, space for dialogue to enter, open pauses that let the outside in
working-through; collaboration through attention and action
density; vying for space; saturation
Listening offers a ‘way in’ to the restless and shifting fluctuations of and encounters between the interdependent elements of the assemblage.
Listening to (and with) the shifting assemblage of the Foodhall not only foregrounds a sense of precarity as a ground state, but it offers possibilities for collaboration, and contamination, through drawing our attention to the activities of human and non-human agents who in turn offer potential transformative encounters.
We might refer to Tsing’s model for smelling a guide to this process:
'[…] smell, unlike air is the sign of the presence to another to which we are already responding. Response always takes us somewhere new; we are not quite ourselves any more – or at least the selves we were, but rather ourselves in encounter with another. Encounters are, by their nature, indeterminate; we are unpredictably transformed. Might smell, in its confusing mix of elusiveness and certainty, be a useful guide to the indeterminacy of encounter?'
from speech to the extra-verbal, another type of language here: industrious sounding; non-verbal collaboration
openess to what comes in, adherence to a process not an outcome
the verbal and the non-verbal, the human and the material pour into one another, calibrate one another
vibratory alliance; gaps connect rather than separate
music sets the conditions for encounter
intelligible speech blurs into a bubbling of intensities, a dense ambience of support and exchange
a state of openess to what comes in: an open-ended assemblage
moments of diffusion, snatches of intelligibility, outside and inside personal interactions
energetics of food preparation
these non-human sounds speak
density; an atmosphere of possibility
the settings have such different tones, qualities, states of diffusion: they engage different listenings
voices and movement animating the concrete acoustic space
water, weather, exchanges, music
listening with equal attention to all sounds
negotiating the possibilities for new happenings
that sound that enters my body; that sound that enters our collective body: together in the feeling of it: mutuality and shared eperience as the basis for exchange
snatches of the verbal, the sound of communal eating - food fuelling it all
food as a facilitator and enabling of processes of listening and exchange. Food as determining of collectivity, of the thickness and density of this sound ecology
Listening in the Foodhall opens up the potential for collaboration.
'Staying alive—for every species—requires liveable collaborations. Collaboration means working across differences which leads to contamination. Without collaborations we all die.'
more space now, charged silence of thought and consideration
'We change through our collaborations both within and across species. The important stuff for life on earth happens in those transformations, not in the decision trees of self-contained individuals. Rather than seeing only the expansion-and-conquest strategies of relentless individuals, we must look for histories that develop through contamination.'
not direction, not aim, but openess to what comes in; the possibilities for the voicing of new thoughts and ideas
voices as part of this music - a reframing
The assemblage is fuelled by attention to the other; activities stage and determine the dynamics of encounters.
Listening contaminates: focussed attention to sounds, human and non-human transform the listener
'We are contaminated by our encounters; they change who we are as we make way for others. As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds – and new directions – may emerge. Everyone carries a history of contamination; purity is not an option. One value of keeping precarity in mind is that is makes us remember that changing with circumstances is the stuff of survival.'
a parity of density of human and material - intra-action
Power cannot be made to dissolve but sits between us
'Every order is the temporary and precarious articulation of contingent practices. The frontier between the social and the political is essentially unstable and requires constant displacements and renegotiations between social agents. Things could always be otherwise and therefore every order is predicated on the exclusion of other possibilities. It is in that sense that it can be called ‘political’ since it is the expression of a particular structure of power relations. Power is constitutive of the social because the social could not exist without the power relations through which it is given shape. What is at a given moment considered as the ‘natural’ order - jointly with the ‘common sense’ which accompanies it - is the result of sedimented hegemonic practices; it is never the manifestation of a deeper objectivity exterior to the practices that bring it into being.'
(and beyond us)
We cannot resolve (our) differences, but rather make a space in which to meet…
(this is an anti-capitalist space, and therefore a site of resistance, yet it does not exist as a homogenous, bounded and pre-formed entity, certain of its norms, values and practices… but it is always in process, and offering the possibility to remake subjectivities)
-the desire to meet, to try to shift things together
in spite of, with-
Power is always at play in these interactions, the forming of this sociality
...where can we be collective?
..., where there can be recognition?
potential, force, yearning...
'All too often our political desire for change is seen as separate from longings and passions that consume lots of time and energy in daily life. Particularly the realm of fantasy is often seen as completely separate from politics. Yet I think of all the time black folks (especially the underclass) spend just fantasizing what our lives would be like if there were no racism, no white supremacy. Surely our desire for radical social change is intimately linked with the desire to experience pleasure, erotic fulfilment, and a host of other passions. Then, on the flip side, there are many individuals with race, gender, and class privilege who are longing to see the kind of revolutionary change that will end domination and oppression even though their lives would be completely and utterly transformed. The shared space and feeling of “yearning” opens up the possibility of common ground where all these differences might meet and engage one another. It seemed appropriate then to speak this yearning.'
Not ‘what we are’, but what we wish the world to become
but also in shared moments of pleasure and joy, in laughter—the coming together as opening a space of possibility…
'The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.'
'Punctuated by voices that not so much articulate through a clarity of communicative speech, but rather give way to the sensuality of what it means to live and breathe in a world of entanglement and conflict…'
Noticing isn’t passive, it prickles with electricity, it is opening to…
'[…] recognition [is] a process by which an individual might recognize themselves in a collectively produced voice. So it is the mutual recognition of our self as valuable and of others’ value to a particular community.'
A different society of sounds
Gently challenging someone for ‘pushing for something’, for taking a position of authority, of command, …rather than doing it themselves...
organisers seek non-hierarchical relations…
laughter creates a mood; the mood frames what is or becomes possible
How might we meet across (and with) our differences?
The music hosts the conversation
'Is there any connection between the devaluation of women and the devaluation of listening? […] in what way can listening be considered a political action?
Lucia: […] we could start from the transformative power of listening. How would you define change in relation to listening?
Claudia: I would say it is the process of becoming aware of the conditions of your everyday life and being in a position where you can then act on them to change them…
Lucia: This is what feminist consciousness-raising was about…'
Cleaning, washing, maintaining: part of the everyday
full, rhythmic… like the beginning of that aphex twin track… kladfvgbung mischk…
'[…] sound and listening are situated as the basis for capacities by which to nurture an insurrectionary sensibility – a potential found in the quiver of the eardrum, the strains of a voice, the vibrations and echoes that spirit new formations of social solidarity – and that may support an engagement with the complexities of contemporary life.'
maybe these goals or ideals are even heard in the sound of food being prepared
Negotiating space, stuff, people…
This spacetime can do so much… Not in a maximising returns, eking out value, commodified way, but in a life-can-be-so-rich way
How might we reconstitute a shared political space and collective subject?
what are they being critical of?
one conversation diffuses into many and back into one
Visitors who are friends,
Sparring, play, performance…
Shifting of centre stage…
…who gets to be the anonymous benefactor, who gets to know who the donor is?...
To be saved, to dream of total transformation…
Yet, to no longer be an agent- but rather to be the subject of saving, the result of someone else’s action
falling back on the same structures, the same hierarchies—can we move beyond them or is Foodhall 15p against a million pound problem?
outside agency, coming in, …
'In these spaces of encounter, the dominated exhibit a public discourse that consists in saying that which the powerful would like to hear, reinforcing the appearance of their own subordination, while – silently – in a space invisible to power, there is the production of a world of clandestine knowledges (saberes) which belongs to the experience of micro-resistance and insubordination.'
'This is the force of listening, because if you take time to listen, it creates solidarity […] This is how collectives are set up, by showing solidarity and caring: by really listening and trying to understand the position of somebody else.'
Weaving, putting energy in to do something that isn’t easy, across difference
polite refusal (to state the expected leadership/ ownership/ control- as political praxis)
'[…] exceed arenas of visibility by relating us to the unseen, the non-represented or the not-yet-apparent […]'
Radio as another voice, that flows between, that softens…
Informality, generosity- offer to make something happen for him… friendliness,
Making plans… going out of your way…
pauses in speech, space between- not as gap, but as connection
The sharing of knowledge, the back and forth, mutual respect in the practising of skilled work
… statement as invitation to be contradicted, to be offered another version of oneself by others...
…other selves- who are you/ can you be in this space with different others… ?
'That moment was important for us because the narration that was produced in that moment was also a process of going back to our own group, a sort of re-mapping of ourselves.'
Giving, because you have an excess
One conversation diffuses into many and back into one. Exchanges fall and unfold around a mutual mission or set of goals.
Maintenance. Use and usefulness, acting and learning together, redefining individual needs as shared, the production of cultural agencies.
'Might sound be deployed as a weapon by way of particular tonalities and collective vibrations, a listening activism, and the force of volume, to support a culture of radical care and compassion?'
Care, as anti-capitalist praxis. Support, encouragement. Making and caring, but also laughing at uselessness.
Acts of care are foregrounded when listening to the new donations pot being made. Unlike the bike workshop, this hands-on activity is imbued with a knowing uselessness. But nothing sounds futile or entirely symbolic. A space for making together, through everyday social activities is created, even though it is unlikely that the pot, as an isolated object, will provide any significant difference to Foodhall’s finances.
'Unlikely publics hover unsteadily and ambiguously in the open, shaping themselves within quotidian spaces and locations often between communities, languages, and even nation-states, to form volatile coalition frameworks; that draw from resources found in collective intelligence, shared skills, popular traditions, and from the energetic knowing of the senses; that build through poor and gleaned materials a space for each other; a collective shelter, pulling into collaboration a diversity of people, friends, family; and that continually shift between different agentive positions, making do through an art of survival, trespass, and tactical pleasure—unlikely publics embody the speculative and dynamic force of the anarchic (non-)citizenry today.'
When is an interaction perceptible?
Familiar spaces but not sure if the people are the same. Not the words but the tone. The music hosts the conversations.
Can I hear its essence even if the words are not intelligible?
Maybe goals or ideals are even heard in the sound of food being prepared?
Are the people laughing friends?
The Commons offers a way of considering spaces, communities of users, and/or ownership models beyond notions of public (state control) and private (market driven). It is used to escape the dichotomy of public versus private altogether, thereby creating openings and criteria for new ways of being-in-common. In Common Space: The City as Commons, Stavros Stavrides emphasises the need for commoning practices to continually overspill the boundaries of a community. This is important to avoid commoning practices from enclosing themselves, forming collectively privatised spaces which exclude strangers and avoid frictions caused by difference.
Foodhall sounds like a home
'Expanding commoning does not expand according to pre-existing patterns; it literally invents itself.'
Listening to day-to-day and convivial exchanges in Foodhall reveals some of the strategies which the volunteers use to keep the project open to new encounters and arrivals. You hear how the project expands through ad-hoc accommodations, discussed and figured out through 1:1 interactions in the space. Strategies can be heard which do not align with neatly pre-determined management structures or spatial frameworks (such as branches or ‘nested enterprises’) which might otherwise be used to visualise the project.
Invitation through dialogue instead of an advert. Organising…ad-hoc arrangements…malleability…. Planning new actions, new energy, new projects.
'If survival always involves others, it is also necessarily subject to the indeterminacy of self-and-other transformations. We change through collaborations both within and across species. The important stuff for life on earth happens in those transformations, not in the decision-trees of self-contained individuals. Rather than seeing only the expansion-and-conquest strategies of relentless individuals, we must look for histories that develop through contamination.'
The settings have such different tones, qualities, states of diffusion, they engage such different listenings. Would a cocktail party sound different? Could you hear an enclosed conversation?
Availability of space—for the accomodation of unknowns.