Blanca Bercial
MA Thesis in History and Theory of Contemporary Art
San Francisco Art Institute, 2020
Outstanding Thesis Award, San Francisco Art Institute, 2020

Listening to the Inframince—An Artistic Sensibility to Listen to the Liminal Crossings of Sound


Sounds are immersed in place, and place is an everlasting project. Listening connects the thread between being and place. In this thesis, I propose listening to the possibilities of sound and place— a phenomenological examination of the sonic possibilities around us. Our everyday sounds shape our identities. As inhabitants of a place, we have agency to mediate sonic relationships with others through our sonic interconnectedness.

San Francisco is a place that promotes hygienic soundscapes or noisescapes—spaces that do not foster listeners, but silencers. An impossible silence which fulfills the individualism that permeates the city. Instead of spiraling down an impossible silence, I suggest efforts to listen to the unheard, and in doing so, to understand and analyze what constitutes silence.

Following Pauline Oliveros’s philosophy of Deep Listening, I embody and narrate my listening experiences, suggesting my own subjective sensibility to the sounds around me. My listening scores aim to heighten an awareness of place and an engagement with others through sound. I focus on the sonic inframince and the sounds embedded in silence—sounds passing, ephemeral encounters of sound. An engagement with the space and with others by listening to our in-between-ness.

MA Symposium ︎ (5:59-56:23)

Listening to the Inframince Reiteration No. 1

Listening to the Inframince Reiteration No. 2

Listening to the Inframince Reiteration No. 3

Present / 2019
invisible ink on white wall, UV flashlight
From Recovecos II


︎ Click on the flashlight for video

Holes of Speech / 2019
galvanized steel sheet

Holes of Speech / 2019
Voice narrating Julio Cortazar’s Me caigo y me levanto poem in Golden Gate park, in-betweness-ness environmental sounds reverberations and echoes

From ...

Pauses in spoken language were never silent but mute. These pauses contain all the ambient sounds that immerse diction within a soundscape. On the other hand,  written language pauses have names but not sound. How does an ellipsis sound? How do we pronounce a word made of punctuations to denote silence? How do we make pauses sound?

In Holes of Speech, I recorded the sound of my voice reading a poem of Julio Cortázar in a tunnel of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Afterwards, I listened to the sounds in between the words, the puases, the punctuation marks. These silences contain sounds yet we never grasp them. For that, I made a composition of those pauses in-between my voice.

This sound and space installation contains punctuation marks sounded and augmented, distributed to conform new words.

Las pausas, los silencios del lenguaje, nunca fueron silenciosos sino mudos. Las pausas en el lenguaje oral contienen todos los sonidos del paisaje sonoro, mi respiración. Todas las pausas del lenguaje tienen nombres, pero nadie las lee. ¿Cómo pronunciamos una palabra de silencios? ¿Cómo hacemos sonar la pausa?

En Holes of Speech, grabé el sonido de mi voz leyendo “Me caigo y me levanto”, de Julio Cortázar en un túnel de Golden Gate Park (San Francisco). Después, escuché los sonidos que rellenaban las pausas entre palabra y palabra, cada coma, cada punto, cada respiración. Los silencios contienen sonidos, pero no los escuchamos.

Esta instalación de esculturas consta de varios signos de puntuación distribuidos aleatoriamente que conforman palabras, palabras que no podemos pronunciar, que nos enmudecen, pero que siguen conteniendo sonido.

Sin pausas, no habría palabras.