release date: 12 april 2022
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When I finish creating an episode, I have no idea what the next one will be. Like many artists who’ve been working for decades, I’m confident an idea for the next project will arise through being open to encounters in the world, its influences, inspirations and intrigues. This is a known unknown.
Last week, during a lunch break, with rain still falling after weeks of deluge,
I watched an hour-long documentary about Japanese-Americans locked up in internment camps in the US during the 2nd World War. The focus of the program was selected creatives who had thrived after the war despite this experience of racist displacement and deprivation.
Among them the inspiring artist Ruth Asawa was profiled and somehting she said proved the spark to begin work on my next podcast – this one. She said “The unknown is really the thing that frees you into the universe.” That is, the unknown unknown.
And so I turned my attentions to thinking again about this epistemological bedrock, the unknown, and considered that listeners to my intentionally unusual podcast anticipate encounter with the unknown each time they listen. The unfolding composition rolls forward on a threshold of unknowing, and it must be a form of pleasure experienced there at this boundary, the skin between inner and outer, known and unknown, that energises this anticipation and renders it amenable to return.
We begin this new composition ‘the unknown is the thing…’ sitting on a railway platform of the Uji terminus, a town south of Kyoto, Japan waiting for the stationary train to open its doors and accept passengers. It was late afternoon of the 29th of October 2014. I was recording, waiting quietly with friends Ross Gibson and Kathryn Bird who’d invited me to join them on one of their annual pilgrimages to Kyoto – an invitation for which I will always be grateful because as frequent listeners will know, it inspired me to visit Japan a few more times since.
Leaving the Uji terminus, the composition wanders off into the usual unusual territories, textures and timbres of aural palimpsest shaped by intuition and practice, knowing without knowing, this time punctuated with fragmented utterances of Ruth Asawa plucked from undercurrents of the digital ectoplasm.