Joe Banks – Rorschach Audio: Art and Illusion for Sound


Strange Attractor Press, ISBN: 978-1907222207, English, 194 pages, 2012, USA

The EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) has been a must in experimental and underground audio scenes, terrifically combining the aura of the electronic medium (decoding radio and sound waves) with the esoteric recognition of “voices” coming from unknown places through the air. Exhibitions like “Awake Are Only The Spirits – On Ghosts and Their Media” (focused on Friedrich Jürgenson’s audiotape archive and developed by Hartware MedienKunstVerein) have given EVP new exposure and rekindled debate on the phenomena. Joe Banks, the author of this book, has released several albums of sounds of natural electrical and magnetic phenomena, under the moniker of Disinformation, but has always been close to EVP in a critical way. Here he inverts the usual focus on EVP, from the recordings and their supposed ‘voices’ to the aural perception (psychoacoustic) of the person who listens and interprets the sounds. The research is extensive but concise, going through all the major protagonists (from Thomas Alva Edison and Guglielmo Marconi to EH Gombrich, Jürgenson, the iconic Konstantins Raudive, and many more), using Rorschach visual theories as the fulcrum of his analysis, which is based on an informed ‘debunking’ approach. In fact, the relationship between mishearing with visual illusions and artistic creativity is explored in the last part of the book, with plenty of references and facts. ‘Rorschach Audio’, printed in small format, is an appealing and readable pocket compendium about a rare sonic subject. Alessandro Ludovico