You Hear Intimate Proximity

A response to The Otolith Group’s I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another (2012) 33 minutes 32 seconds / colour, sound (stereo), HD Video

Your encounter with the new video work by The Otolith Group takes place at Fabrica gallery in Brighton. Filmed largely in her Paris apartment, I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another (2012), focuses on the reading of the poem ‘Sea’ by the Lebanese poet, painter and philosopher Etel Adnan. You know that since its formation in 2002, the collaborative group led by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun has established an interdisciplinary practice that ranges from film, installation, curated exhibitions, events programmes and platforms for the discussion of contemporary artistic production. Their work is often based on procedures of research - although you also know that such methods are consciously questioned and fictionalised - bringing together references that draw on the photographic image, the language of cinema, as well as sound and literature. 1 2
You soon discover that the video forms the second part of a trilogy that reflects on water as a source of political and cultural power. It anticipates The Radiant (2012), a film that will explore the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami in relation to nuclear power, and follows Hydra Decapita (2010), a film that made reference to the music and mythology of Drexciya, the Detroit-based duo of James Stinson and Gerald Donald, who mythologize a mutated underwater civilization of descended from pregnant African women thrown overboard during the Atlantic slave trade.3 In Hydra Decapita at least, the sea is seen not only as a reliquary, filled with evidence of horrific suffering, but also as the site for the generation of difference, of new fictions – of ideas as complex and contingent as the beginnings of entirely new societies.

At this point you have some understanding that the Group’s concern is for the conditions of images – the internal relationships and external associations that give them their power – which they address through the use and examination of the essay film. The Group focus on this suitably open-ended format in order to bring together constructs of fact and fiction, history and future, image and text, narration and abstraction, blending tropes from documentary and auteur cinema. Owing a debt to works by Chris Marker, Harun Farocki, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Jean-Luc Godard, the Group aims to  question “how cinema invents the image and its way of relating to sound, to the narrative voice (superimposed on images), and to a multitude of other voices that allude to representation.”4 The adaptation of the common tropes of the essay film (archive footage, voiceover, inter-titles, slow motion and so on) in order to generate unusual juxtapositions and disjunctions, whilst allowing the difficulty of producing such arrangements to become part of the work.

It is soon apparent that I See Infinite Distance... is filmed largely within a domestic environment. The framing is clipped, the camera handheld, seemingly free from any secure tripod. The image is constantly unstable, tilting and pivoting as if in liquid. You find your viewpoint moving from glimpses of recognisable detail – a figure sat at a desk – to long sequences of blurred shadow. The lighting is dramatic, the depth of field extremely narrow. Any crisp image is bound on either side by expanses of obscurity. The figure you see at the table, with a book open in front of her, is Etel Adnan. You move about her, as she reads, like jetsam fussing about a buoy. She is reading from the book in front of her, this much is obvious, yet you take on an uneasy presence here. You zoom in suddenly, watching an elderly hand quivering at the edge of a page, testing the endpaper against the thumbnail. You cut to strands of hair moving like weed in her body heat. Just as swiftly you zoom out to see her square on, from the back, symmetrically positioned in the frame, her attention fixed on her reading.

For all her lack of movement, you find the 87-year old Adnan a compelling presence. What powers this presence is not yet clear, as you are still getting used to the framing of the image and the disparities between shots: the flip from a perspective of an insect circling an individual body, to that of an audience attending a performance of poetry. This is even before the reading voice is heard, or rather recognised as unheard. Yet it is immediately clear to you that this is a cinematic encounter with a written text – which Kodwo Eshun will elsewhere contextualise by referencing Jean-Luc Godard’s insistent use of encounters with text in his films, from written captions and inter-titles to characters reading silently and aloud.5 But here your roaming viewpoint is constructed from the assembled footage of countless camera angles. Jump cuts are so numerous as to come like blinks, disrupting the continuity of your gaze as much as the collapsing focus or the switches in contrast between shadow and light. The process is destabilising, simultaneously drawing your attention to and resisting what is immediately visual.

What you might not know at this point is that the use of physically disruptive camera work refers to the Group’s previous works, in particular Otolith I (2003), in which viewpoints are constantly forced out of synchronization, making a stable eye-line difficult to maintain - a process by which the Group attempt, as they put it, to transfer the labour of viewing back to the viewer.6 Both Eshun and Sagar have cited the influence of Michael Snow’s experimental film La Région Centrale (1971), where the pre-programmed movements of a robotic camera-arm positioned on top of a Canadian mountain slowly begin to unravel the conditions of seeing, disorientating the eye by stripping it of gravity, withdrawing any evidence of recognisably human orientation from the image.7 

The Group take their name from the Otolith Organs found within the vestibular labyrinth of the inner ear: the sacculus, which detects spatial and gravitational displacements in the vertical plane, and the utricle, which senses those in the horizontal. Otolith I refers to a science fiction scenario in which, due to a ‘swelling’ of the Otolith Organs, generations of astronauts living in orbit of the Earth, outside the constraints of gravity, mutate into beings that could no longer survive on the surface of their home planet. This idea of a modulation of the capacity for orientation - where, as Eshun puts it, “weight, force, mass become propositional variables” - is precisely what the Group aims to provoke with their work.8
Yet here, in a darkened gallery space that has become an extension of a Parisian apartment, as you move about the figure of Adnan, there is something else going on. Here the reader becomes a gravitational point around which the camera revolves. It strikes you nonetheless that this is an attempt to evoke a related form of disorientation, but one in which alternative components are in play. Although you can acknowledge that the movement of the camera could well tie in with the Group’s claim that the video be understood as an experiment in concentration that speaks of the mobility of thought and the movement of the ocean, you sense that the swelling motion of the image is not the only aspect of the work that seeks to emphasise both concentration (which could be considered a fixed or sustained position) and mobility. Instead, this ambiguous territory is being addressed through all elements of the video, including those that you haven’t clearly acknowledged as yet - the ‘poetic production’ of Adnan’s text in terms of its composition, the contingencies of the reading, the processes of vocalisation, listening and so on. Still, you are aware that there seems more in common with another of Snow’s films, Wavelength (1967), in which an extended zoom, accompanied by a swelling sine wave, moves all the way across a New York apartment until it is consumed by (or consumes) a photographic image of the sea’s surface.9

You sense that the rhythm of the video is strangely respiratory but any connotations with tidal movements are not immediately obvious. The footage of snatched details and intense visual scrutiny form an image composite that contains no recognisable pattern. As with other pieces by the Group, you think, albeit in a different way, the fragments not only seek to establish multiplicity but also implying a resetting suspension. The result is a consistent arrhythmia that establishes syncopation between continuity and interruption that distances itself from straightforward predictability. If it does occur, any imitation of sea-like rhythms becomes more like suggestions of fractal relationships between massing currents that are hidden from view. Already you think there is a knowing engagement with the thematic idea of a poetic meditation on the sea - whether as metaphor, allegorical device or mythological figure - but wonder to what extent the Group are able to avoid cliché.

As you continue watching, the video seems more and more like a microscopic study of an individual figure. Yet the effect of the circling camera and the shifting focus soon recede to become vehicles for setting other forces in motion. If their work is an appeal to an unfolding process of mobilised concentration, then it is one that is being consciously annotated as such. Arguably, it is being specifically contrived to hover closely oceanic cliché. Yet you feel that the intention of the work is to perform a creative function that is perhaps submerged from immediate perception. What builds up, you feel, is something like a substance of attention. The rhythm of the video has begun to approach this state of attention through the constraints on the way the constraints on the way its images are captured. Such a short a period of time has passed that it is clear that the main priority of the work is to demand a similar investment of attention from the audience. The video itself is therefore an experiment in concentration of sorts.

You refocus. Centre stage there is the writer, the reading writer, obviously a certain distance from the unfolding process of composition. Instead she is settled into the practicalities of reading aloud a text that exists on the printed page. There are indication of her attention too, most obviously in physical bearing and the camera’s proximity to it. What movements Adnan makes are slow and deliberate. Even amongst the edits, what is consistent is her contained pose at the table. And the camera respects this and it is content to watch Adnan, even if it cannot remain still for long.

The rhythm of the video persists, even though it is constantly interrupted. This begins to happen more explicitly as various inserts are spliced into the footage of the apartment, showing time-lapse images of root systems seeking moisture, plant fronds seeking light, strange staggered patterns in muted black and white. A contrast is being drawn here, you think, between natural geometry an artificially enforced patterns, as if the tension implied between a fixed position and radical mobility could be essential to any proposed state of consistent attention. Such a formation of attention becomes an activity of arrangement, not of any single or personalised position, but of a non-specific complex of viewpoints established through a process of dynamic composition.

You note other moments of release from the reading figure. Unpredictably, the camera suddenly slumps away from Adnan, dropping into a dark blur elsewhere in the room. It is as if the camera gets tired and its concentration is lost. In these movements the mechanics of the video production are exposed in another wat. There are glimpses of equipment, wires from recording devices, even members of the film crew to be made out in the shadows. But why does this not break the spell entirely? How it is that the video can rely on strategic interruptions to further establish an atmosphere of consistency, setting up a state of sustained agitation rather than passive suspension?

You refocus once again. You are watching a figure reading aloud in a room. You can see the nervous hesitancies of her hands, some indication of vocal movement in patches of skin. But all this, at least in your mind, is taking place without the sound of the voice coming through. 

It is only with the emergence of sound that you realise how furtive the situation is. You are within a private space that has been transformed into the venue for a public reading. There is a vicarious quality to the way you are being exposed to this performance. You are bugging the poor reader, orbiting her and listening in to the “sounds she emits”.10 And when zoomed up close to these details, at intimate proximity, your listening becomes altered. Already it is detecting intricacies, missing the more obvious presence of the reading voice itself, as if performing its own slow zoom. You wonder if your ‘overhearing’ of this event is in fact turning into something like an ‘over-listening’, where your hearing can no longer hold its focus.

Your recognition of sound is first triggered by incidental noise. The ambient pitch of the apartment, low in the mix, superimposes another series of shapes onto the interior spaces you are slowly getting used to. Other sounds are amplified - in particular a layer of odd rhythmical fluttering, a vocal static, which soon becomes recognisable as a whispered sub-voicing, as the reader rehearses speech on the edges of audibility. You think you hear fragments of text, words and syllables amid pitch-less texture, as if still being composed, something like the preparations for thought even in the midst of thinking.

Nonetheless, you think that the sound has a quality of perseverance similar to that being played out in the rhythms of imagery. You discover later that Adnan, in her book Journey to Mount Tamalpais (1986), accounts for what she calls a “therapeutic” practice of painting, responding to a Californian mountain day after day until it becomes a “reference point” by which to orientate her thinking.11 This kind of repetition, which in itself relates to the resolve to be found not only in the text of ‘Sea’ but within the layering of sound in its captured performance, is an indication of consistency and receptivity.

But soon it is the voice that dominates your experience of the video. In relation to what you know of the Group’s previous work, you think of the voice in relation to the cinematic voiceover, yet there are obvious differences. This time the voice does not belong to a member of the Group, or a fictional character from an imagined future. That method of conveying a composite of history and speculative fiction is replaced by another form of commentary - but what kind? Something like the poem-as-voiceover? But whereas those voiceovers were ‘acousmatic’ - heard without visible cause - there is here no doubt that the reading voice belongs to Adnan.12 The video shows Adnan’s reading body in obsessive detail, even though it may stop short of showing the speaking mouth in action. Perhaps this omission gives away an intention to show just enough of the speaking body to dissipate the enigma of a disembodied voiceover (which would become uncanny, omnipotent, evidence of cinema’s mastery of ventriloquism), stopping short of localising the voice in any one place. But then can the voice be securely located in the body, or does its emanation always remain to some extent incongruous?

The reading voice is immediately particular. It is a product of Adnan’s childhood speaking Greek and Arabic, her formal education in the French schools in Beirut, as well as her switches back and forth into writing in English. You can hear time spent living between Lebanon, France and the United States. The voice is gravelly with age. Vowel sounds are rounded and form, the pacing considered and unhurried. Emotional dynamics are muted - intention and timbre confer a tone of restraint and intimacy. The way these qualities are received are largely outside Adnan’s control, of course, and you will come to know that it is the performance of someone who does not like to read publicly, who is resistant and is inseparable from the infinitely complex regional and social aspirations of the Middle East, as well as being drenched in the political vernacular of conflict, settlement, repression and exile.

But this is not an anger-filled recitation of a text internalised and called up from memory. It is more like an ongoing reassessment of the written poem as it exists on the page. Not only this, it is also about the poem as an object - both the way the sounds shape the body of the reader and the way the book is held in her hands.

There is also the factor of one internal volume resonating inside another - the apartment billowing out into the gallery chamber. A camera crew may have invaded a private space, yet something of its domestic intimacy is preserved. The reading may be matter of fact, yet at certain moments it includes its own departures and disruptions, where it reveals itself as a performance: the voice trailing off from a sentence; Adnan’s face lifting after a certain passage, as if listening for a consequence in the room, watching for someone to tell her to stop, or just obeying a necessity to look away from the text. It is a similar interruption of rhythm that punctuates the video imagery, but Adnan’s breaks of concentration seem more like her checking for evidence of the poetic production doing its work, its having-an-effect on her immediate surroundings. 

As well as reflecting onto the body of the reader and the poem, as well as the structure of the video, the voice extrapolates away from everything visible. You know that you are witness to strange umbilical relationships between poet and page, voice and text, sound and image, but wonder why your focus was dominated by the visual for so long. Even your use of the word ‘witness’ appears to confirm this bias, for surely it is possible to think of the first syllable of that word in relation to listening’s quickness of intelligence? But it is true that, as you listen, you think you hear images - perhaps formless, perhaps without name, but images nonetheless. Even if, as Roland Barthes asks, “isn’t the truth of the voice to be hallucinated?”, you wonder why you didn’t hallucinate its totality earlier, including what you think of now as its image-less qualities.13

Your response to the video is difficult to come to terms with. The work itself is multiple, several things at once. It is a presentation of writing-as-reading, of seeing-as-listening. It seems both heavily manipulated and without annotation. Certain words pass by, unattended, others trigger an immediate response. A syncopated sentence offers nothing and then an image rises of an entire world stumbling into the apartment, the sea rising above the table.

In a short essay written for dOCUMENTA (13), Adnan describes how her passion for the sea emerged from childhood experiences in Beirut in the 1930s. Her mother would take her to where the water beat directly against the edges of the city, allowing her to paddle only with a cord strung under her arms connecting her to the shore. From such experiences Adnan developed what she calls a “sensuous response to the sea, a fascination, a need that I lived like a secret. It enchanted me, and it isolated me. It has lasted all my life.”14 But what do you make of the claim that Adnan’s poetry in ‘Sea’ “draws upon the powers of philosophy to pursue the continuous mutation of matter into velocity”, or that it conducts a meditation on “matter and anti-matter”? What are you to make of such tasks in relation to the Otolith Group’s video? Perhaps the question to ask is what is happening through watching someone reading aloud like this, for this to appear on screen? Is this a record of a read-through of a screenplay or a script that simply scores out duration? You speculate whether it can become something like bearing witness to transformation (a transformation inherent to reading), like watching a previously hidden space being brought to light. There is something about the components being brought into contact here - the written text, the reading figure, the listening viewer - that suggests a composition being driven toward a continuity that is otherwise inaccessible. But is the aim to open up a passage between philosophy and politics through a poetic encounter between image and sound?15 The process may be of a different order but there are traces of a sought difficult in connecting images, and the power of their disjunction.

It is only afterwards, when you obtain a copy of Adnan’s poem, that you realise that you have no recollection of the text from your experience of the video. There is a mismatch between what you saw and what you subsequently find crowded on the pages. Is your attention that bad, your receptivity to the spoken word deficient? Maybe so. But there are other echoes between the page and video. Similar disruptions to linear sequence are made by both poet and filmmakers: just as ‘Sea’ is broken up into aphoristic fragments, so the video rearranged its samples freely, redistributing components according to altogether different rhythmic structures, full of anomalies and temporal disturbances. 

Throughout the video you could see and hear the connection between reader and page, perhaps even watch the eyes scanning across a paragraph, parsing a line. But when you have the paperback in front of you, with the chance to re-imagine those sequences, you find yourself strangely disappointed with the conventionality of the poem, especially the nature of its layout. But what was it you were expecting? You look at the text. The font is sober, the letter spacing without variation. The left-aligned segments form a staccato pattern ranging out from the margin in lengths from one line to ten. Sections are split by hard returns, occasionally larger gaps or page breaks, where the sequence is cut open to reveal the blank page underneath.

Looking down at the pages you think back once more to being in the gallery. When listening to Adnan read, what was it that you did with your eyes? Did you sense them somehow linking up with your ears, one assigned to each, as if establishing a divided yet interconnected circuit, offering space for reciprocation or sensory transfer? Did you try to read along with her? Was that even possible? you relate this - whatever this is, some indication of synaesthesia - to a later quotation concerning abstractions and the task of “separating images from words, images from bodies and words from sounds.”16 This seems to state something concise about your experience here, how you have become immersed in a texture of image, sound and text that is impossible to unravel.

Looking down at the text you think of other sections in the video, when the camera would switch orientation and hover like a reader over different surfaces, moving across tabletops to reveal evidence not only of a writer’s life but that of an image-maker: paint brushes, pigments and fragments of paper.

This sudden shift into what could be described as topographical viewpoint struck you at the time, but has added significance now. The camera soon begins to survey a heavily painted surface as if mapping it from the air. Lozenges of bright colour are sloped and skimmed into peaks with a palette knife. These are Adnan’s canvases which she has produced since the late 1950s, their surfaces raised into wrinkles like the tops of opaque oceans, or what she describes in ‘Sea’ as “fields of stirring liquid”.17 But again you feel in danger of treating this too literally, of all this becoming illustrative. What is it that is happening with these switches of orientation, our eyes tilting downward in order to be read the details of our immediate proximity?

Even if it risks becoming illustrative, you return to the idea that the video is attempting to focus a rhythmic attention on the possibility of tracing an unfolding event through the ostensibly obvious linearity of a read text. As you recall the slow traversal of the camera eye over the colour fields, you understand that an approach to reading or ‘landscaping’ is central to the video, which is to say that by means of spatialising of thought, the experience of the video (as dominated by the demand of a distracted listening) becomes diagrammatic - drawn out in time and given form in space. Even if Adnan’s text is arranged conventionally on the page, the video breaks it up in other ways, scattering the fragments over the white space of the screen.

You wonder what kind of leap it is to think of the evocative, fragmentary marks of proto-legible script in Cy Twombly’s Poems to the Sea, the series of 24 drawings made by the artist in 1959, combining house paint, pencil and wax crayon. You wonder what kind of sensuous sea is present in those drawings, what kinds of allusion are made through the stuttered writing arranged beneath a shifting horizon line. You dwell on the uncertain tilt of the page. You already recognise this as a plane that is free to shift between a flat expanse and a vertical wall, where punctuating marks seem to emerge from it prior to any state of finalisation, partly cancelled out too, laden with the potential of both the obliterated and the yet-to-be. Nonetheless, there are also points of orientation in Twombly’s poems, even if they remain ambiguous or solidified only as question marks.

Alongside the completely unravelled figures that resemble traceries of sonic agitation, there appear readable sequences of numbers to be counted off, half submerged in white, indications of time signature or rhythm.

Something else comes back too, when you are put in mind of the whiteness of the page and Twombly’s obliterating marks. You recall the final sequence of the video, a section that abandons any pretence of avoiding obvious imagery of the sea. The camera cuts to an aerial view once again, this time of the ocean surface, the grey-blue water moving down the frame from top to bottom. As well as echoing other topographical views, it is easy to see this as the view from the prow of a slow-moving vessel. The sea is relatively calm, yet it is textured with countless details, with colours that range from lit blues to deep blacks. At this speed, the sea appears resinous, thick, and it comes as something of a relief when a white crust of ice creeps into the top-edge of the frame. Clearly you are on an icebreaker, about to meet a resistant barrier through which it is necessary to pass. The whiteness grows larger until it fills the screen, but the situation does not last. The momentum of the camera is too strong and steady and, with the brutal sound of creaking, the ice is cleaved open. It feels for a moment that the camera is going to move deep into a sustained continent of whiteness, but again this is false. You do not progress into any sustained continent, but suddenly emerge into open sea once again. The ice forms a ring, it seems, a perimeter - you know this this is not an embarkation on a journey into a fixed territory. The sea has not ended at this barrier but has perhaps undergone a change of state. You have passed into some other consistency. The brief sounds of cracking ice are swallowed up once more by a penetrative silence, as the dark sea surface reclaims the full dimensions of the projected image. Silence is reasserted, recognised again from the temporary admission of its absence. This is a new silence, different from the one that came before, one that comes as a result of sustained effort, a labour of listening. The image moves on and soon fades to black.

To go even further, you associate the ending of the video in relation to your later walk on the promenade, all the way down to the pier. The seaside town was congested with noise, for the most part inescapable, with larger crowds scattered across shelves of shingle beach. Directly beneath the pier, dwarfed by the immense wooden structure, it was not as if this intrusive noise fell away or was in some way lessened. But still you recall a shift in your attention. There was still chatter and wind-borne static, snippets of conversation and recorded song, pebbles grinding smooth, cautioning gulls and the sloppy rhythm of the waves hooking into the sand. It was not any alteration in the noise that occurred or any accidental alignment of frequencies that changed the atmosphere. What struck you at the time was the sensation that you were thinking more clearly beneath the pier - that your thoughts were more available to being structured than was the case when you were elsewhere. You did not close your eyes. But this was not in connection to the scaffolding of the pier above or the structure’s intrusion into the sea, toward the distant horizon. Instead it was a form of silence that came accompanied by sound, something like the silence always available within what can be heard, or something akin to a visible silence, one that was seen equally clearly. Crucially, what is realised now is that this was a direct consequence of the video of Adnan reading and that the unstable mix of what was seen and heard under the pier constituted a form of watchful listening connected with being read-to in a particular way.

Looking over the text of ‘Sea’, you find a quote that seems to hold particular significance. You read it to yourself: “Eyes have busied themselves exclusively with seeing although they can hear better than ears whenever they join forces with what’s outside the mind’s perimeter.”18 You begin to understand the complex assemblage the video brings together - poem, reading, voice, image, body and so on - and its overall affect in relation to ‘sea’ in the sense of a fundamentally disorientating medium. It seems to evoke the idea of thought becoming destabilised, free to move on open axes, to roll, pitch and yaw in a way impossible without having been dispossessed of secure dimensions.

You think of attention being a composite, or a body in itself, subject to gravitational force, before considering the Group’s use of images of weightlessness and microgravity, particularly as indicators of disrupted thought. The fact that this structural metaphor is situated within the inner ear still holds your attention. It is difficult not to relate the experience of I See Infinite Distance... to the coupled image of hearing mechanism and perception of tilt, acceleration and earthbound stability. It is still more compelling, however, to note that this physiological coupling of the auditory mechanism and the perception of gravity comes with its own visual intrusion. Both Otolith organs are covered by a continuous layer of sensitive hair cells, held in a gelatinous medium called the ‘macula’. This is also the name given to a central region of the retina, a ‘yellow spot’ containing the fovea and the largest concentration of cone cells in the eye. It is in this ground, designed for high resolution vision, that the crystals of calcium carbonate - the very ‘ear stones’ the Group are named after - are embedded.


1 I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another was commissioned and supported by Photoworks, Fabrica, Lighthouse, Blast Theory, Brighton Festival and University of Brighton, Faculty of Arts in association with the ‘Voices of the Sea’ project.

2 Adnan, E. (2012) Sea and Fog. Callicoon, New York: Nightboat Books.

3 Eshun, K. (1999) More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction. London: Quartet Books, p83-84.

4 Martinez, C. ‘Thoughtform / The Otolith Group’ in The Otolith Group (2011) Thoughtform. Brescia: Mousse Publishing.

5 Cf. Temple, M., Williams, J. S. & Witt, M. (eds.) (2004) For Ever Godard. London: Black Dog Publishing - which includes a section made up of still from Godard films in which characters are reading.

6 The Otolith Group - Otolith I, video, 22mins, colour, sound, 2003. See also Holder, W. & The Otolith Group (eds.) (2009) A Long Time Between Suns. Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press, p97-98.

7 Snow, M., La Région Centrale (Quebec, 1971, 180mins, 16mm, colour).

8 Holder 2009, p125.

9 Snow, M. Wavelength (Ontario, 1967, 45mins).

10 Adnan 2012, p50.

11 Adnan, E. (2011) The Cost for Love We Are Not Willing to Pay. dOCUMENTA (13): 100 Notebooks Series No.006, Hatje Cantz Verlag, p5.

12 Cf. Dolar, M. (2006) A Voice and Nothing More. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

13 Barthes, R. (1977) (trans. Heath, S.) ‘The Grain of the Voice’ in Image Music Text. London: Fontana, p184.

14 Adnan 2011, p5. In addition to an exhibition of paintings, Adnan’s involvement with dOCUMENTA (13) included the presentation of her first film work, Motion, a collage of Super-8 footage of her arrival in America in which image of the sea are dominant.

15 Holder 2009, p87.

16 Holder 2009, p43.

17 Adnan 2012, p3.

18 Adnan 2012, p33.


Adnan, E. (2012) Sea and Fog. Callicoon, New York: Nightboat Books.

________ (2011) The Cost for Love We Are Not Willing to Pay. dOCUMENTA (13): 100 Notebooks Series No. 006, Kassel: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

________ (1986) Journey to Mount Tamalpais. Los Angeles: Post Apollo Press.

________ (dir.) (2012) Motion. Digitised Super-8 film, colour, silent 90mins. Lebanon / Germany.

Ballard, J. G. (1963) ‘Now Wakes the Sea’ in The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1. London: 4th Estate, p.641-651.

Barthes, R. (1977) (trans. Heath, S.) ‘The Grain of the Voice’ in Image Music Text. London: Fontana, pp179-189.

Eshun, K. (1999) More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction. London: Quartet Books.

Holder, W. & The Otolith Group (eds.) (2009) A Long Time Between Suns. Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press.

The Otolith Group (eds.) (2011) Thoughtform. Brescia: Mousse Publishing.

_________ (dir.) Otolith I, video, 22mins, colour/sound, 2003.

Perloff, M. & Dworkin, C. (eds.) (2009) The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound. University of Chicago Press

Rancière, J. (2011) (trans. Corcoran, S.) Mallarmé – The Politics of the Siren. London: Continuum.

Temple, M., Williams, J. S. & Witt, M. (eds.) (2004) For Ever Godard. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Twombly, C. (1990) Poems to the Sea. Munich, Germany: Schirmer/Mosel.

‘Life in Film – The Otolith Group’, Frieze, Issue 101, September 2006. []

Written for the Writing Sound symposium, Oxford Brookes University, 2012.