By g.a. chishti
Edited by Grayson Lee
i) silences is sound,
ii) sounds is silence
The conversational interview with Christopher Dela Cruz took place on a Saturday. We were three time zones apart*. Dela Cruz is a person who makes art and is interested in technology. The website for Notice of Disruption, is at: https://www.christopherdc.com/notice-of-disruption
What emerged quickly about Christopher’s practice was the role of hip-hop, the origin story of music making, and switching in-between this music-making into the work this piece is about. To understand deeply the foundational elements of CDC’s craft one must begin to comprehend certain aspects of sampling and remixing that were and are very prevalent in hip-hop culture. Dela Cruz’s connection to hip-hop and rap as a ~ ten-year-old who arrived in Scarborough. Scarborough is still where he resides and hip-hop was a necessary translator for understanding both social dynamics as well as linguistically navigating this place, definitely then and, by extension, seemingly now.
We spoke a lot about in-betweenness**. Between music and computer science, Philippines and Canada. Borrowing from other cultures and this feeling of belonging to neither place nor the spaces in-between. We also spoke of fears, hopes, forgiveness and hoping to be worthy of it. You know, the usual gamut.
So on that note, let’s begin.
*mississaugas of the credit First Nation, anishnabeg, chippewa, haudenosaunee and wendat peoples and is now home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
*kwanlin dun and ta’an kwach’an council territories
**In time since the interview, Ian Kamau premiered a short film paying homage to this ‘in-betweenness’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEsdPt7wpk0, thanks Luminato Festival
Notice of Disruption is classified as a sound sculpture. It is beautiful, elegant, and, most importantly, essential. Looking at it as a recipe card here are the components:
a thermal printer^,
rolls of receipt paper,
and a microphone.
^what you encounter regularly as a receipt printer
A beautiful element of printing with thermal paper is that it does not require ink and the paper ‘prints’ using heat as an input. Something about eliminating this otherwise essential dependency – ink – for printing, similar to wireless phone chargers not needing cables, baffles me. Even though it has been ~60 years since they arrived on the scene. A poetic aspect of thermal printing, of receipts, of ink/heat on this paper is how it fades over time. To me, in this moment as I write this, this fading of the content is not dissimilar to the washing away of memory.
To translate silence and/or sound into some other form of energy, something tangible and tactile! What this piece does is something part-magic, part-physics which is part-science, also part-art, and additionally something part-________. It was a real treat over the course of our interview to speak of the piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (“Perfect Lovers”) from 1991.
Attention, Focus, Time, Interruption. These are essential components for rest, for a certain quality of work to turn into craft or art and/or liberation. Years ago, I interviewed the filmmaker-turned-clockmaker Scott Thrift of https://thepresent.is/. We discussed a point which has enamoured me since around how our perception of time is one of the most seemingly immoveable, entrenched socially-agreed upon conventions. To question the underpinnings of time then, almost a decade ago, felt unholy almost. Less so now but still a fringe-seeming movement, such interrogations.
Similar to both these pieces, Notice of Disruption in a certain way is a clock of sound/silence, a visible see-saw reminding of the ability to be quiet. This feels vital at a time when globally we know that quiet places are disappearing around the planet. Think of acoustic inequities and how they intersect class, luxury vs. cheaper vehicles and their acoustic qualities as they drive by. Listen as a passenger, listen as it drives by.
Who can afford not to be interrupted?
Looking at the larger body of work that this project sits alongside in Christopher’s expansive body of work interrogates this question in all sorts of ways. Proximity to sensors (like microphones), ways that the speakers warp a more expected sound, or even by collecting and mixing recordings over a timespan. The ability to focus (or even come close) without a baseline of dings, sounds, noises—external and/or internal—aided in large part due to our relationship with technologies – is concerning, to say the least. This is a powerful question that I keep returning to thinking about our conversation and this exhibit. The gift, power, and privilege of being uninterrupted, how so many of our popular contemporary technologies (hardware and software) tilt us towards ADHD-esque tendencies and phantom limbs of longing.
At one point during our interview, fairly early the artist and I spoke of their spending tuition dollars on studio equipment, of researching through practice, process, and permutations. We spoke of the obvious references when looking for models in this work especially when trying to find representation for non-normative communities. What of the N. K. Jemisins, Octavia Butlers, Satyajit Rays, Akira Kurosawas, Audre Lordes, ______ of the future, past, and present?
Where we do not see ourselves reflected in the recordings (read: histories) then how does that affect our desire to do this work ourselves? Who takes and is given credit for these experiments in sounds, culture, technology, and arts?
This piece, this artist deserves a nod. In this regard and many others, Notice of Disruption is so aptly and adeptly titled. The fact that this piece is just part of a longer series of interrogations, a deeper inquiry of play, translation, and migration is exceedingly hopeful. Not hopeful in a way that expands with abandon, but a hopefulness that expands and contracts and is enough. Like a tree. An orchard. A forest. All of the above and more.