“There is no There-There” is an interactive sound art map that can be viewed online. Taking 5 different areas of the world as examples of a series of ‘theres’, “There is no There-There” plots sound and text segments to sites of interest, as if a glitched and disrupted embodiment of Google Maps. Each map represents a place that acts as both a here and a there, a place and a nonplace, a real and virtual space, where one person’s home is another’s strange land. This is an ongoing work that constantly shifts and changes (as do all places), with maps, locations, poetry, and sounds being added with time.
Each piece of sound art, while different, is derived from the same one piece of audio – me saying “there is no there-there”. This line has then been glitched and augmented in a variety of different ways to create a series of different short sound works. This is one of my more common sound art practices – taking one home-made audio clip and deriving entire works from it. I created these pieces by keeping the piece of audio on loop and digitally altering it in an improvised manner each time the sound looped.
This piece also includes a mouse follower that becomes a central aspect of this work – it produces lines of text that remain in place for as long as you remain on the map. The text changes size depending on how fast you move your cursor. Jason Nelson and I experimented with this mouse follower in our co-authored 2014 work ‘Camberland’. In There-There, this text creates trails between the sounds – trails that show you where you’ve been on the map; trails that segment the land; trails that create lines of flight. This allows the viewer to create their own trace – traceable steps over the landscape where the more you trudge the map virtually, the messier and darker the piece becomes. You can create distinct trace-line webs between the given location points, or simply scribble. After a while this starts to be metaphorical of human impact on the land, hence I kept the text black on all screens.
The location points (where the sound and words are held) trace little observations, personal memories and poems to do with the place, both real and imagined. The real and the imagined tend to intertwine as the text becomes surreal. At 29 years of age I do not own my own home (virtually impossible in Australia) so I have switched between family and friend’s places on a weekly bases for the past 12 years, and most of my artworks are completely ephemeral or only reside in the nonplace of the web. So I certainly identify with, and am inspired by, liminal spaces and the idea of a virtual/Other/no longer existent place, and the sentimentality that comes with that.
This work is similar to one I created last year called ‘Geonotation’, that used maps as a type of home-made post-modern musical notation to create songs, that I then plotted to an interactive map to make them viewable, but I also made an installation version that saw each sound (on hidden mp3 players) placed in a different spot around the venue Sarabah Vineyard. Viewers could walk around the vineyard and stumble upon pieces of music. “There is no There-There” differs in that the map itself is static, not zoomable, but this allows each map in There-There to be customised. Thus, each map is coloured differently, with layers of digital drawing and pencil marks creating a palimpsest of place.
The title comes from a sentence spoken by Gertrude Stein on returning to her childhood home to find it no longer there. The line intrigued me in many ways. At first, I couldn’t figure out the grammar of the phrase, and thus thought it could mean a multitude of different things. I think this is echoed a little in the way that each piece of glitched sound in the work (which can be quite jarring in juxtaposition with the map and words). In my version, I include a hyphen between the last two theres, to suggest the reading “that place is no comfort”, beyond simply “that place is not there”.