Similarly to Deven and Renee, I will discuss my visit to Counterpath and my experience at Stephanie Strickland’s and Eric Baus’ reading on 14 April 2014. As Deven has described, Baus’ talk prefaced Strickland’s—he prepared the audience for a sonic interpretation of the work. I might call his interpretation a ‘close reading’ of audio, yet he describes it as ‘distant listening.’ Moreover, this is not to be confused with already described fields such as ‘distant reading,’ which focus on using analytical data to study text. Baus, as opener, prepared the audience in an unexpected way for a subsequent ‘close/distant listening’ experience with Strickland’s performance.
Strickland read first from the text of Dragon Logic, then the recently published V : WaveTercets / Losing L’una. The latter work was presented to the audience via projected iPad app. In the dark room and among the silent audience, I was most drawn to the stars and constellations ‘created’ before the viewer’s eyes. Strickland’s app drew up connections, linked words, and created textual ‘associations’ in this starfield. When I use the word association, I use it to recall the term that Latour and Moretti employ when discussing network theory. I felt that within this vast starfield, the audience felt a sense disorientation—when constellations (familiar and new) are created, the audience regains a sense of location. Such associations within this grid, and within a created set of associations, lend clear structure in the work for the viewer. When such constellations were created, Strickland subsequently read them aloud—her voice audibly expressed these associations, yet remained silent when associations faded away. I invoke network theory here to suggest that this manner of ‘close reading’ the text might allow the audience to create a cohesive narrative. I believe there to be no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to interpret her text, but I find this approach to be a helpful roadmap to reading the stars.