The blog of author Dennis Cooper

17 sounds


Christian Skjødt
Ronald van der Meijs
Douglas Henderson
Nelo Akamatsu
Stephen Cornford
Rebecca Horn
Stéfan Piat
Ulrich Eller
Florian Hecker
Benoit Maubrey
Haroon Mirza
Roberto Pugliese
Aernoudt Jacobs
Kaffe Matthews
Ted Apel
Julijonas Urbonas
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller


Christian Skjødt Inversion (2013)
Made specifically for a WWII bunker, Regelbau Fl277, located at Furreby beach at the Danish west coast, a translation of the external (luminous) circumstances are brought into the darkness of the bunker in the form of sound. Consisting of eight autonomous systems this responsive environment examines the intensity of light using a formation of solar panels located outside on the beach. These are connected to boxes inside of the bunker, each equipped with analogue electronic circuitry and a loudspeaker presenting the solar energy as an audible and ever-changing frequency.


Ronald van der Meijs Plastisphere (2019)
The stop motion image video gives a clear picture of the growth and decay of the plastic cell structure which is made by shopping bags. While this structure catches the daylight like organisms do on the surface of the ocean in order to live it. This architectonical plastic structure is slowly breathing in and out continuously which takes about 20 minutes to fill it with air and takes 20 minutes to vacuum it.


Douglas Henderson Wonder Woman (2011)
Wonder Woman is a cartoon character invented in 1941 by the late William Marston (who also developed the polygraph, aka lie-detector test), and she was to be the first feminist superhero bringing ideals of “love, peace and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men”. Here represented by two 12″ speaker drivers which pulse up and down, suggestively decorated with the remnants of one of Madonna’s bras. Wonder Woman was remarkable for her ability to bounce offending bullets from her bracelets, and this soundtrack layers dozens of recordings of popcorn popping in resonant pots.


Nelo Akamatsu CHOZUMAKI (2017)
water, glass vessels, magnets, plastic, electronic devices, controllers.


Stephen Cornford Binatone Galaxy (2011)
An installation for used cassette players which looks on their obsolescence not as an ending, but as an opportunity to reconsider their functional potential. Superseded as playback devices, they become instruments in their own right. Replacing the prerecorded content of each tape with a microphone gives us the chance to listen instead to the rhythmic and resonant properties of these once ubiquitous plastic shells. Binatone Galaxy brings the framework within which a generation purchased their favourite records to the centre of attention, revealing the acoustics of the cassette and the voices of the machines themselves.


Rebecca Horn Concert for Anarchy (1990)
A grand piano is suspended upside down from the ceiling by heavy wires attached to its legs. It hangs solidly yet precariously in mid-air, out of reach of a performer, high above the gallery floor. A mechanism within the piano is timed to go off every two to three minutes, thrusting the keys out of the keyboard in a cacophonous shudder. The keys, ordinarily the point of tactile contact with the instrument, fan disarmingly out into space. At the same time, the piano’s lid falls open to reveal the instrument’s harp-like interior, the strings reverberating at random. This unexpected, violent act is followed between one and two minutes later by a retraction as the lid closes and the keys slide back into place, tunelessly creaking as they go. Over time, the piano repeats the cycle. A mounting tension to the moment of release is followed by a slow retreat to stasis as the piano closes itself up like a snail withdrawing into its shell.


Stéfan Piat Rear Window (2018)
“Rear Window” by Stéfan Piat, an installation consisting of two empty rooms – one bordering the begijnhof’s garden, the other a bustling square. The windows are airtight, but thanks to microphones and loudspeakers, visitors can hear the street sounds from outside. In Piat’s work, we watch the outside world from a window that becomes a screen, like in Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window. But unlike Jimmy Stewart’s character in the film, we can actually hear what we’re seeing. We’re not only voyeurs, but also eavesdroppers, since we can discern the conversations of passers-by.


Ulrich Eller Talking Drums (2008)
Forty identically constructed snare drums hang individually at face level on thin steel cords propped on circular wall positions along the architecture’s rhythmic pillars. All of the drums resonate the sound of short chalk strokes via inbuilt loudspeakers, similar to a quick writing process. The interaction results in a staccato-like, coincidental dialogue form, a “conversation” among the drums in different moods, wherein the sound backdrop permanently alters between the original sound of the recording and the typical resonating sound of the snare drum.


Florian Hecker Rearranged Playlist as Auditory Stream Segregation (2009)
Rearranged Playlist takes outtakes of existing works I’ve been doing over the last three or four years, and these outtakes are interrupted by monotonous tone sequences that draw on Alfred Bregmans’s idea of sound streaming, Auditory Scene Analysis or better, Auditory Scene Synthesis, and the segregation and reintegration of such streams.’ — FH


Benoit Maubrey The Temple (2012)
Copy of “oracle” temple ruin at Delphi constructed from 3000 recycled loudspeakers and electronics. The Temple stands outside the ZKM in Karlsruhe. Sound: “white noise” from radio receivers and people’s voices (starting March 16th 21012 by calling the German telephone number 0721 – 8100 1818 people could express themselves through the sculpture for 3 minutes).


Haroon Mirza: /o/o/o/o/ (2013)
Attaching turntables and a mixer to an amplifier is a routine familiar to any budding disc jockey, but this kind of set-up process is also a preamble to any display of Haroon Mirza’s work. In other words, his assemblages and installations need to be turned on, plugged in or mic’d up. The 36-year-old Sheffield-based artist plays and creates his own records and music, often directly through his sculptures, which mismatch junk shop-bought hi-fi separates with everything from television sets and keyboards to projectors, lasers and even dry-ice machines. ‘/o/o/o/o/’, titled after the typographic notation of a musical waveform, and features five record players, a reverberation chamber and a room of surround-sound speakers.


Roberto Pugliese Equilibrium Variant (2011)
In this work, the Neapolitan sound artist and composer has positioned a lever with an attached microphone in front of every loudspeaker. The seemingly natural movements of the computer-controlled levers result from an attempt to keep the feedback sound in balance. Roberto Pugliese programmed special software for this purpose. Since the sound tends to amplify itself, it is impossible to maintain it at a constant volume, so the levers stay in constant motion. The robotic units behave differently due to the different features of the loudspeakers.


Aernoudt Jacobs Permafrost (2012)
Permafrost is an environmental sound sculpture about the freezing process of water. An installation has been developed in which we can observe the constantly repeated cycle of freezing and melting. By means of a custom-made sound apparatus the process is made audible. Permafrost deals with the sometimes paradoxical relation between nature and technique.


Kaffe Matthews Sonic Bed (2005)
These [beds], with speakers immersed in their upholstery, create situations that transform the listening experience for the sitter into a stimulating and sensual massage, turning ‘weird’ or ‘boring’ music into something meaningful. All kinds of people would queue for hours, have very different experiences and talk of the musical as well as physical and psychological sensations they have had afterwards.


Ted Apel Call and Resonance (1995 – 2015)
Five very large test tubes are used to impart strong resonances on hand made sound making circuits in each tube. Each circuit independently alternates between recording sound and playing back its recording. The sounds recorded are a combination of the sounds produced by the other tubes, the ambient sounds of the space, and the resonance of the tube. In this way, the combined soundfield is an emergent property of the five tubes, that is, each tubes sound is dependent on the contributions of the others.


Julijonas Urbonas Sounding Door (2009)
Sounding Door is an interactive sound art installation designed by Lithuanian artist Julijonas Urbonas to turn any door into a unique musical instrument and a stage at once. Equipped with custom-designed electronics and software, the installation plays and composes sounds according to the door’s movements, that is, its position, speed and acceleration.


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller The Killing Machine (2007)
Partly inspired by Franz Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’ and partly by the American system of capital punishment as well as the current political situation, the piece is an ironic approach to killing and torture machines. A moving megaphone speaker encircles an electric dental chair. The chair is covered in pink fun fur with leather straps and spikes. In the installation are two robotic arms that hover and move- sometimes like a ballet, and sometimes attacking the invisible prisoner in the chair with pneumonic pistons. A disco ball turns above the mechanism reflecting an array of coloured lights while a guitar hit by a robotic wand wails and a wall of old TV’s turns on and off creating an eerie glow.




p.s. Hey. ** Quinn R, Hi, Quinn, good to see you. My summer was pretty rough, like your August, I guess, but it’s ending fairly well. Some incarnation of my novel is finished and awaiting approval or lack thereof or something in between from a trusted friend who is going to read it. New film script is close to getting into our producer’s hands whereupon the fundraising will start. Watching of late … mostly things that have then occasioned blog posts like yesterday’s. Nothing in the theater too recently. Reading … bunch of stuff. I just made a ‘4 books I loved’ post so it’ll be apparent then, I guess. And you, on both of those fronts? I’m really sorry to hear about your parents’ ill health, and I’m glad you’ve recovered from the effects to a decent degree. Yeah, obviously with the LDR essay you should follow exactly whatever angle you’re feeling and excited by. It’s great, and not always the case, obviously, to be taken by an emotion or inspiring idea when writing an essay, so, yeah, go for it, if you need to hear that. Very interested to read it. No, I never worry about getting overly sentimental. I’m not a sentimental person, basically, so if I’m pulled in that direction when writing, I trust that I’m inherently measuring it with my tone or style or whatever. I wouldn’t worry. I haven’t read Sally Rooney, but I’m intrigued now. I’ll search her out, thank you. I hear you on the MFA applying. Try to angle for a program with a professor or two whose work and approach you admire? And fight the homogenisation. I think that is blanket encouraged out of nothing but laziness. How nice that Ed and Michael had good thoughts about me. Please give them a warm hi from when you communicate with them next. I had a conversation with Ed about our mutual (but very different, it turned out) experiences as ex-pat writers in Paris for Interview Magazine a couple of years back. I think it’s fine if you’re okay with doing sex work to get solvency, sure. Just the obvious things like making sure you’re always in a situation where you can leave easily if you want. Years ago I did an escorts posts, and one of the escorts I chose turned out to be a writer who knew my work and saw the post and changed his ad so it also said, “One of Dennis Cooper’s picks for Best Escort”. He and I ended up becoming friends, so it was cool. If Zac and I are working on something next spring, which is possible, we’d love you to work with us. And it’d be nice to meet and hang out in any case. Take care, and best of luck with everything. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Very happy you also like her films! ** Su Friedrich, Hi! Thank you so much for coming in here, it’s an honor. I’m a great admirer of work, as I guess you can tell, and I’m thrilled that you were happy with the post. I hope it provides at least some small encouragement for people to get to know your films. Thank you again so much! Great respect to you! ** Bill, It’s excellent stuff. Ha ha. ** Armando, Hi. Well, it’s good that you keep working and writing even with your lack of confidence about it. As I was talking about here with someone else the other day, the drive to make things is the most important part. If I’d been patient enough to judge the quality of what I was writing in my younger days, I probably would have given up. But luckily I just wanted to do it, and so I did. ** Steve Erickson, Yeah, people really seem to like that Lana Del Rey album. Trivia: I live about a 2 minute walk from a popular nightclub here called Le Parisienne Fight Club. I think it’s just a techno club that’s using that angled name though. ** Right. Today I present you with 17 sounds that I think you would be well served to hear (and watch being made). Take me up on the offer please. See you tomorrow.


  1. A Very John Cage Day.

    I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it up til nowbut on the recommendation of Samuel R. Delany I’ve sent a proposal and sample chapter from “Raised By Hand Puppets to an independent publisher of his liking.

  2. There used to be an East Village bar called Tyler Durden’s. It went out of business recently. The film critic Nick Pinkerton took a selfie in front of it with a sarcastic caption.

    Anyway, I’ve written a 1,500-word rough draft of the FIGHT CLUB essay. I’m fairly happy with it, although I probably wrote too much on the hackneyed subject of the film’s politics and too little on my stated thesis of it as a queer love story. (When I posted some thoughts on Letterboxd last night, I got the most negative reaction ever, which I should’ve expected given its popularity and how conservative its fan base is.)

    Sally Rooney is so popular that there are 500+ holds on each copy of her books in the NY public library. I’ve ordered both of her novels there, but I don’t expect them to arrive any time soon.

  3. 1. i wanna’ say that your blog and your work have been a source of enduring inspiration now for many years. i think the work you do here is possessed of uniquely weird & spooky power and is of incalculable value (in the stringently formal sense of the word incalculable).

    2. I am doing a podcast about (among other things) Putin’s rise to power and want to mention the story of Dima as an illustration of the human costs of the mob-oligarch milieu in St. Petersburg that abetted the ascent of the President of Russia. Before I do this however, I have a question that I’d like to ask you that we could discuss via DM or you could text me. I’ll include my phone number in my email address. Essentially I just want to confirm that—since presumably primary sources cannot be recovered or revealed—the story is not invented, is based in fact so far as you’re aware. I’m glad to take your word for it, but there are elements of the story that just gave me some pause. If you confirm it, tho, I believe it.

  4. Hey Dennis,
    Loved the Su Friedrich day yesterday. These sounds seem great at a glance, but I’ll give them a deeper listen tonight.

    Glad to see in the comment to Quinn that the new novel is done or at least a draft. Do you usually share work at this stage with a trusted friend or two? Or is this something that felt helpful just for this project?

    Just sent you an email about PGL article.

    Scrambling to get ready to leave for Hopscotch music fest in Raleigh. I’m interviewing Sarah Rose Etter on Friday and on a ‘books and bands’ panel with Laura from Superchunk on Saturday. Hoping to catch a bunch of acts while I’m there like Sleater-Kinney, Boris, Wolf Eyes, Deerhunter, Milford Graves, Messthetics, etc. Hopefully the ongoing hurricane will pass far east enough not to wash the entire weekend away!

  5. Dennis,

    Hey I was in a bad car wreck. Of course the doctors found everything wrong with me after the wreck. No more cigarettes for me. They take away the one thing. Haha, the recorder and I have come to an impasse, so it looks like the EP will be finished online. It is done, just needs mixed. Had to stop in to tell you about this dream. Been having totally insane dreams (all the benzos probably). But last nights dream was a really interesting one. The theme seemed to be “What it’s like to be DC’s friend in NYC.” Boy, it was a great feeling and a total blast. There was an apartment, a neighborhood, a crew of boys and girls, something about poetry, an old woman talking about her son’s lawyer, and tons of you as like this almost cult leader. It was just a hugely great feeling. Thought I would share. Any hints on the new novel? Hope you’re great. Digging the new Tool for the rest of the day. They sound so much like a swamp. I really want to know what this guy is talking about, second after Pollard for like really digging the lyrics. Fairy dust from FL

  6. I enjoy the Haroon Mirza work, maybe because that sounds the most musical to my ears? It’s actually a pretty good tune he gets out of that assemblage.

    I’m nearing the finish line with The Call Issue #3 and I reckon it’s all looking good thus far. The PDFs need sending away tomorrow, then we do the first DCA print studio session on Friday. Nice to be back in the creative swing of things again.

  7. I got a press release regarding Errol Morris’ AMERICAN DHARMA today. It is finally opening in the U.S. November 1st.

  8. Some mighty fine projects today, Dennis. The Wonder Woman piece is hilarious! Too bad the Maubrey piece wasn’t up when I was at ZKM. And I could definitely get to know Julijonas Urbonas better, yes.


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