We're Bombarded With Sound

"My work is just trying to make sense of the disorienting and overloaded world that we inhabit," says the DJ.
  • Transcript


Question: Is there a basic philosophy behind your work as a sound artist?
DJ Spooky:  I’d say most of my work is just trying to make sense of the disorienting and overloaded world that we inhabit.  We’re bombarded with sound at every level.  Sound... if you look at bats you know that navigate with sonar, they’re like you know they’re very precise.  They can even see a bat head towards a building and swerve away, but you’ll see a bird that doesn’t… you know smash right into a glass window.  It’s very funny.  I mean I don’t…  Anybody out there that has probably seen that is like oh, it’s terrible.  Like if you’re ever in a skyscraper and you see a bird just flies right into the side of window.  Whales, for example, also navigate with sound, but they’re now beginning to be beached because the ocean is getting too noisy.  Weird things like that.  I mean this is very real.  Like, if you look at the satellites in the sky at night you know it’s an eerie sense of we’re…  You know we’re in a planet surrounded by certain kinds of frequencies and noise.  The earth’s magnetic sphere makes weird sounds.  The sun you know the heart of our solar system makes noise.  Even interstellar phenomena like black holes.  You know people have studied them and a black hole can emit sound in like the range of 20,000 octaves below B flat.  You know I mean that’s a lot…  That’s a very low tone.  So yeah, how do I think of my environment and what happens with sound art?  I love to play with the idea of elusive and intangible things.  That could be psychological.  It could be perceptual.  It could be just the way your ears help you just navigate around.  Try this experiment, closing your eyes and navigating with your ears.  It’s eerie because walls, you can actually hear your footstep maybe bounce off of or you can feel the vibration of your voice and help that… use that to navigate. So sound art I’m always intrigued with how little we use of other senses and we just prioritize the eye and you just want to see everything and navigate.  You know the art world is similar.  Like I wish people would use their ears a lot more.

Recorded on April 8, 2010