Silent Whale Letters A Long-Distance Correspondence, on All Frequencies

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Silent Whale Letters A Long-Distance Correspondence, on All Frequencies by Finer, Ella; Mascini, Vibeke; Briggs, Kate, 9781915609021
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  • ISBN: 9781915609021 | 191560902X
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 10/24/2023

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A long-distance correspondence reflecting on the infravoice of a blue whale and other so-called “silent” subjects.

Silent Whale Letters is part of an ongoing collaboration between writer and composer Ella Finer and visual artist and writer Vibeke Mascini: a long-form correspondence project spanning April 2020 to July 2022. Across twenty-four letters they reflect on “silent whale”—an inaudible sound recording residing in the British Library Sound Archive—and other such “silent” subjects, the content of the letters opening into evermore corresponding sites of enquiry. 

The infrasonic blue whale voice, the subject of the sonic document in the Sound Archive, can only be heard if the frequencies are sped up and made audible to human hearing. This is both the opening provocation of the letters and the infrasonic beat that underscores the whole epistolary exchange. How does the silent document effect the logic of the archive? How might such a document encourage us to attend to listening as a practice of preservation? 

As the letters consider the ocean loud with communications across time and space, the authors ask how the ocean preserves as it disperses what it carries, to think not only about the movement of matter, but also of energies, wavelengths, and currents. How does working with what we cannot see, or even hear within range, shift the parameters of attention? How does the energetic archival space of the ocean agitate and disrupt claims to knowledge, history, and power?

The letters chart a process that is equally conceptual and intimate, theoretical and deeply personal, as the correspondence moves through discussions of (amniotic) undercurrents, call-and-response mechanisms, energetic wavelengths, oceanic and archival memory, mysterious scales, and the watery acoustic commons.

Kate Briggs, Chus Martínez, Astrida Neimanis, Pablo José Ramírez

Copublished with TBA21
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