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Excursion into Dust

A page from Szymon Kaliski's 2018 studio diary

The Polish multimedia artist Szymon Kaliski is keeping a 2018 studio diary, uploading an entry per week to his SoundCloud account. The latest, “Week 08,” is an excursion into dust. On first listen, it might sound like background noise that lacks a foreground. The experience is akin to entering a dark room — not merely a dark room, but an unfamiliar one — and letting your eyes adjust. You don’t survey such a room in the same way you do a well-lit one. You don’t have the option to take it in as you see fit. You grasp onto what data — visual in the room, sonic in the case of the Kaliksi track — presents itself. Initial elements are disparate, their dimensions unclear. Then you begin to make connections. You get a sense of the place’s scale, of its decor, of the density of its furnishings.

The light never turns on in Kaliski’s “Week 08,” but it is a room, a virtual sonic space, you’ll want to spend a lot of time in. With repeat listens — the track is less than two minutes in length — elements make themselves apparent, like objects making themselves known in the dark. There’s a lush, slow piano line. There is crackling partially akin to vinyl surface noise, but also to flying insects, at times taking on the quality of a drone in both senses of the word. Unlike in the room that provides the extended simile above, scale has no practical boundaries when it comes to Kaliski’s track: it can be both massive and intimate at the same time. It is as vast as a hectic train station heard through thick earmuffs, and as precious as an archaic Victrola given one last spin before retirement.

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/szymonkaliski. He’s also collecting the weekly entries into a playlist. More from Kaliski, who is based in Poznań, Poland, at szymonkaliski.com and twitter.com/szymon_k.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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