Transversal Is a Loop is a fifty-minute long sound composition by Saša Spačal, in which she, together and in dialogue with the crickets Acheta domesticus, delves into how to think music, sound manipulation and composition. The process of making this recording rests on Saša’s years-long research into biological systems through art and science methodologies and physical manifestations in the form of objects and spatial interventions. Her work is thus inextricably linked to critical reflection on the human relation to and impact on biological ecosystems on a planetary, microscopic and energetic level. The entanglement of humans and crickets in this sound work aims to underline the trajectory of a journey, which–after going through several cycles, inter-species feedback loops and considerations of how to survive as a species–ends up, through commodification, at the starting point.
Transversal is a loop is a series of sonic entanglements between a sound artist and crickets Acheta domesticus. As a sonic line, as a transversal, it passes through three planes of existence that crickets experience in the Anthropocene by sonicaly exploring dynamic equilibrium in terrestrial habitats, vulnerability to extinction in human-cricket feedback loop and commodification of crickets as a mode of survival.
Transversal travels through feedback looping planes to observe and record the human-cricket relationship with various sonic methods while contemplating the living conditions of the nonhuman others, the crickets Acheta domesticus. Saša Spačal employs a mix of field recordings, analogue and digital modular synthesizers, self-made string instrument, acoustics resonance and feedback loops in glass domes with an aspiration to form a sonic relationship with chirping critters.
The aim is to help crickets be heard in various sonic situations on the plane of biological habitat, as well as giving them surrogate voices and sounds on the other two planes by providing them with audio inputs and samplers connected to analogue and modular synthesizers with an intention of making them the co-creators of soundscapes.
Transversal is a line which after passing numerous planes of existence and circling through feedback loops reaches a point that it has passed before and it becomes obvious that it is not a line anymore, in it’s becoming it is a loop. Transversal is a loop, one of those immersed in a multiplicity of feedback loops that propels inter- and intra-connectedness of the planet from micro to macro scale. One of those between humanity and environment that human beings have difficulty grasping thus not fully comprehending the proverbial wisdom of the phrase ‘what goes around comes around’.
Statement about performing with crickets, a sonic close-up with live crickets Acheta domesticus at the festival Sound Topographies: Contexts curated by Nina Dragičevič at Škuc Gallery in October, 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Cycles is an attempt at exploring sympoesis. Sympoesis for me signifies an important word, even a manner of being in this world. To put it most simply, Donna Haraway conceptualized it as working together or making, creating together.
This is what I try to manifest with Cycles: I try to work and artistically produce, create together with crickets. I try to give them space and I learned their name Acheta domesticus. Well at least the name of their species. Still an anthropocentric denomination, but at least some type of a name. Unfortunately, I cannot name them individually, one by one, as my perception is still too narrow to be able to distinguish them individually.
However, what I can do is try to acknowledge them as something more than fodder or foodstuff. For those of you who do not know, crickets in human capitalist society with its crazed consumer culture are most of the time grown and sold as food – for larger mammals, lizards, hedgehogs, spiders and in some parts of the world also for people. Their nutritional value is being researched and crickets are being considered as possible future superfood, as a nutritional supplement, which we might in the future be able to simply nibble in various protein bars and drink in smoothies.
In cricket farms, where they are grown, they have short lifetime spans where they literally never see any light and never meet any other biological species besides their caretakers. Mostly, the crickets are grown in plastic boxes with some carton pieces to offer them hiding from light. We as humans do not treat them any better than we do cows, chickens, pigs and other farm animals in farm factories. As an animal species that cannot become a person’s pet companion with fluffy hair and big round eyes, such as dogs and cats possess, they are even more exposed to being treated as products instead of living organisms or even living beings, I guess.
I do my best to provide the crickets with another role in the world, so they might for a moment be seen as something else or even perhaps as someone else, as a subject. It was not easy to learn how to treat them, how to provide an environment where they can easily thrive. I must admit there were victims due to my lack of knowledge and lack of sensibility for their needs.
Now I think I have actually learned how to take care of them, however, I still have a long way to go. Slowly, I am building a relationship with them, and I keep exploring and learning how to upgrade it. Of course now, this seems as a utopian and impossible mission. However, every experiment opens up new plane of possibilities, and their manifestation always depends on the accumulated knowledge.
During the performance, while improvising, I try to create sound situations where the crickets would be heard as different and diverse in different contexts of soundwaves. If I succeed, they do not sound alone and lonely, but are heard within the context of an ecosystem of sounds from which they actually come from. They are for me part of the biophonic landscape from which the species was taken and put into a box on the shelf of a pet shop. Locked into the one-dimensional category of food.
Do not worry, I am not going to rant about a vegetarian or vegan diet. Every individual persons’ food habits are a very intimate choice. I hope a conscious decision where the fact that needs of every individual human body are different is being considered in view of the impact of certain industries that have grown much too large or use particular methods that are not sustainable for our planet.
Besides, I also know that there needs to be a circle of life and that the food chain is a real fact so that humans and other creatures on this planet can actually survive. However, once in a while it is nice to thank other creatures and think about how much we take from them and also how much we are actually given every day without even asking. I have never asked crickets to chirp, and yet they do it. Their sounds make all of the long summer evenings quite special for me. So this performance is basically me saying ‘thank you’ for sharing the biophonic landscape with me. I am thanking these wonderful little sound masters, so dear to me, but in a way so foreign. So long and thanks for all the chirps!
TRACKLIST OF ENTANGLEMENT
Method: in search of sound niche
Cycles explores dynamic equilibrium of terrestrial habitat with field recordings, string instrument and analog synthesizers by trying to find sound niches for chirping crickets in various acoustic bandwidths.
Interspecies feedback loop
Method: feedback looping in glass domes and with modular synthesizers
Human-cricket feedback loop explores vulnerability to extinction of crickets as well as human beings by sending the sounds of crickets into glass domes to be transformed into microphony as well sending the chirping signal into modular synthesizers to modulate certain aspects of emerging soundscape.
Mode of survival
Method: barcode techno
Contemplating commodification as mode of survival. Chirping into technoscapes with the sounds of barcode reader.
Saša Spačal: sound, liner notes
Crickets Acheta domesticus: sound
Jedrt Maležič Lapuh: proofreading
Tina Ivezić: graphic design
Maruša Hren: usb booklet design and manufacture
Luka Prinčič: usb booklet design, editorial, production
Stella Ivšek: Kamizdat Rentgen visuals, streaming, design and promotion
Michal Kindernay (Agosto Foundation)
Irena Pivka, Brane Zorman (CONA – Institute for Contemporary Arts Processing)
Cycles composition was commissioned for radioCona:0.2425 FM Exhibition in 2016.
Transversal is a Loop project was developed as part of Agosto Foundation residency in 2018.
All audio and visual material in Saša Spačal: Transversal is a Loop booklet and on the USB is copyright respective artists. Some rights reserved. Licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA 4.0) licence www.creativecommons.org/licences
KAMIZDAT is a slovene freeform netlabel focused on releasing music by local artists. Since 2006, all digital releases are downloadable for free and under Creative Commons licences, while the collaboration with local artisans results in unique and imaginative packaging for limited physical hand-made editions. Free downloads and limited editions available at [www.kamizdat.si](http://www.kamizdat.si/).
Media support by Radio Študent Ljubljana and SIGIC/Odzven.
Financial support by City Municipality of Ljubljana and Ministry of Culture RS.