Aura Satz presents the UK premiere of her film Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road) and discusses her wider research on sonic obedience and disobedience through the trope of the siren. Her project proposes a speculative re-imagining of emergency signals—it posits the siren’s loud glissando wail as a conditioned and learned signal, one that can potentially be productively rewired.

The siren as a sonic signal appears to be undergoing a profound transformation, prompted partly by our increasing alarm fatigue, as well as the near-obsolescence of public sound system broadcasts in an ever-noisier acoustic ecology. The project proposes a speculative re-imagining of emergency signals—it posits the siren’s loud glissando wail as a conditioned and learned signal, one that can potentially be rewired. Sirens are recomposed through voice, electronica, chirps, whistles and bells, a trumpet, a harp, a cello, cracking bamboo, infinitely rising tones and more—from loud and defiant to low, mournful or nearly imperceptible.

Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)—also shown in the festival as an expanded sound installation—is a work made in partnership with Lebanese trumpet improviser Mazen Kerbaj, who has composed a new siren sound using circular breathing, and actor/activist Khalid Abdalla's account of the siren as the emblematic sound of resistance, oppression and lost futures during the Arab Spring. Shot on 16mm, the film is literally driven by its soundtrack, as the voice becomes a beacon, mechanically activating emergency rotating lights.

Aura Satz

Aura Satz is an artist who works with sound and film. Exhibitions and screenings include Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Hayward Gallery, BFI Southbank, Whitechapel Gallery, (all London), InterCommunication Centre (Tokyo), Sydney Biennale; High Line Art (New York), International Film Festival Rotterdam and New York Film Festival. She has presented solo exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection (London), Hayward Project Space (London), John Hansard Gallery (Southampton), Dallas Contemporary, George Eastman House (Rochester, New York) and Fridman Gallery (New York). She teaches at the Royal College of Art.

Filmography

Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road) (2018), Entangled Nightvisions (2017), Little Pathways to Doors Not Yet Taken (2016), The Astronomer and the Witch (2016), Between the Bullet and the Hole (2015), The Trembling Line (2015), Chromatic Aberration (2014), Doorway for Natalie Kalmus (2013), In and Out of Synch (2012), Vocal Flame (2012), Universal Language: A Lost Manifesto (2012), Oramics: Atlantis Anew (2011), Onomatopoeic Alphabet (2010), Sound Seam (2010), Automamusic (2008)