Josephine Michel & Mika Vainio – Halfway to White


Touch, # Folio 001, ISBN-13: 978-1874104018, English, 60 pages, 2015, UK

The inception of a new series (“Folio”) of hardcover books is a significant step for Touch, one of the most important “multi/media” UK music labels, with its more than thirty years of history. This first volume is a combined effort by an exceptional couple: photographer Joséphine Michel and celebrated sound artist Mika Vainio (co-founder of the historical Pansonic duo). The collaboration between the two started before this specific work, but here it accomplishes a considerable success and an advanced symbiosis. Michel explores her notion of “sonic photography,” which consists of adjusting the (digital) exposure at the moment of shooting, according to the resonance of the noise-fields in that particular place. The resulting overexposed photographs reveal an interesting form of sound visualisation. An overview returns a kind of “visual effect,” but the minimal time spent exploring them in detail gives the feeling of a parallel visual experience. Michel defines the effect of Vainio’s music as a “vibratory static.” His analogue sources create fictional natural sounds, and in compositions he uses blasts as well as silence as a sonic “white space,” reflecting the visual elements in the overexposed photographs. The unusual synaesthesia which can follow is sensorially ambiguous and considerably disruptive. Designed by Jon Wozencroft, this audio-visual effort in book + CD form is accomplished in the Touch tradition, embedding an innovative relationship with media in classic and recognisable forms.