“A Seismic Moment: Sound as weapon, from Jericho to Waco” presented by Madsen


Session Title:

  • Sound in Space – Seismic Moments

Presentation Title:

  • A Seismic Moment: Sound as weapon, from Jericho to Waco




  • Today I want to retrieve for audit, the sound of one event that existed for a time on that critical and fragile border between what we term virtuality and actuality. I want to take your memories back – a memory formed through media images – to the siege of 1993 at Waco, Texas. I want to try and recover the overlooked and repressed sound track. I don’t imagine this memory jogging will be too difficult a task, considering how Waco has been re-cited and re-sounded through the Oklahoma City bombing which can be understood as an aftershock of the Waco conflagration.

    In the limited time available here, I want to re-perform a listening, a listening that depends upon a weak point in the system, a listening that has allowed me a way-in to what was to
    become, WACO – the media/military Show, WACO, the tragedy, WACO, the melodrama, WACO, the ‘freak occurrence’, the ‘pulp fiction’. My radiophonic practice involved taking a profile of this
    seismic moment and retrieving from the chaos of noise, (the shock waves still trapped in the system) some sense, some direction. In scoring Cankzfa of Fire, a radio ‘play’ on the ancient
    idea of sound as weapon, I sought to track sonic fault lines, recording the tremors and murmurs, diagnosing the ratio of attack to decay. Inspired by a reading of urbanist/philosopher Paul Virilio’s work on how speed and the accidents of speed re-organize both real and virtually real (VR) spaces (this is the space, in effect, that we inhabit), I decided to investigate the events at Waco with the sonographic tools of my trade. What interested me was the curious way in which son-et-lumière performed together to in fact determine the course of events. For the T.V. cameras, hungry for ‘lights, action, exposure,’ there was little to develop here, little to be seen on the outside, except the boarded up white building (the compound) on a treeless Texas plain.

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