Kristen Gallerneaux – High Static, Dead Lines: Sonic Spectres & the Object Hereafter


Strange Attractor Press, ISBN-13: 978-1907222665, English, 264 pages, 2018, UK

There seems to be a consistent interest over the last decade in “hauntology” (as Derrida called it) and media over time, periodically re-emerging in art: “Awake Are Only The Spirits” exhibition at HMKV, a paper on futurists’ haunting practices, Kluitenberg’s influential “Book of Imaginary Media”, and the recent Blume exhibition at Centre Pompidou, just to name a few. We can definitely count this book in, with a specific focus on audio, probably the most esoteric medium available. Gallerneaux, who is Curator of Communications and Information Technology at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, writes a “literary mix tape” about stories of inexplicable sounds consistently infesting specific systems. She combines rigour with non-linear writing, with subjects ranging from Muzak invention to the Psycho-phone playing records while we sleep, to Votrax Type ’N Talk text-to-speech synthesizer, to 50s plans for an “ingestible radio”, to name only a few of the transmitting devices and experiments described and (dis)connected by the author. The esoteric and paranormal dimension has a lot to do with the “invisible but perceivable”, which is mostly what we unconsciously perceive aside from our digital devices. And this book is brilliantly providing a path to experience, walking on the blurry line among sounds, machines and human perceptions.