In his performances, video and audio works, Marcus Coates makes the world tangible from a non-human perspective. In his The Sounds of Others: A Biophonic Line, the British artist sampled a total of 25 sounds from humans and other animals: Using special software, Coates stretched and compressed the voices of starlings, blue whales, seals, canaries, children, and numerous other creatures. This allowed sounds that are normally outside the reach of the human ear to become audible, bringing surprising resemblances to light: slowed down, the human voice begins to sound like a lion, sped up, it sound like twittering birds, while a baby’s cry is slowed down to become the call of an adult. With his acoustical pairings Coates wanted to ‘create a line of linkage between humans [he] possibly could’,¹ because, according to Deleuze and Guattari, ‘it is actually through voice and through sound and through a certain style that one becomes an animal and certainly through the force of sobriety’.²
The Sounds of Others: A Biophonic Line questions the binary hierarchy of ‘us’ and the ‘others’. In the centre of the Hofgarten, the urban retreat for humans and animals al
ike, Coates’s work presents the culture of soundmaking as a culture beyond the domain of humanity.
1 Interview, Marcus Coates, AnOther Magazine, November 2014 (www.anothermag. com/art-photography/4106/the-sounds-ofothers-by-marcus-coates, 22.02.2018)
2 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975), University of Minnesota Press, 1986, p. 7.
Text: Nicole Alber