8 episodes

ROGUE SYNTAX: PRIMER.
A new audio documentary by:
Nathan Gray,
Danni Zuvela
& Makiko Yamamoto,
with Rikke Bundgaard-Nielsen.

First episode airs:
January 2021.

Presented by:
Liquid Architecture (Melbourne)
& 1646 (The Hague).
Supported by:
The Australia Council for the Arts
& City of Melbourne.

Rogue Syntax: Primer By Nathan Gray, Makiko Yamamoto and Danni Zuvela

    • Arts

ROGUE SYNTAX: PRIMER.
A new audio documentary by:
Nathan Gray,
Danni Zuvela
& Makiko Yamamoto,
with Rikke Bundgaard-Nielsen.

First episode airs:
January 2021.

Presented by:
Liquid Architecture (Melbourne)
& 1646 (The Hague).
Supported by:
The Australia Council for the Arts
& City of Melbourne.

    3 part 2 - If Only They Could Speak

    3 part 2 - If Only They Could Speak

    The second part of our investigation into what happens when humans try to make non-humans talk, deals with two experiments with chimpanzees both intended to disprove ascendant theories of Noam Chomsky from the 60s onwards. We continue to listen to the evolving ethics of behavioural experiments with animals and the tragic effects on chimps and humans alike whose lives were altered by this struggle between competing linguistic theorists and theories.

    Featuring music by Vera Dvale and guests Lekan Akinlosotu Martins and Sabine Gottfried

    • 56 min
    3 - The Clever Hans Effect

    3 - The Clever Hans Effect

    ROGUE SYNTAX PRIMER, EPISODE 3 Part 1: THE CLEVER HANS EFFECT

    In the early 20th century, experiments with a performing horse, “Clever Hans”, sparked off a wave of scientific interest in the communication capacities of animals which continue today. Episode 3 of ROGUE SYNTAX is in two parts and both deal with this legacy of what happens when humans try to make non-humans talk. Part 1 explores the stories of “talking” horses and chimpanzee sign language experiments; introduces concepts such as operant conditioning and the observer expectancy effect in the context of language learning; and discusses the ethical and psychological effects of what happens when we make animals communicate with us.

    ROGUE SYNTAX is supported by Liquid Architecture, 1646 and The Australia Council for the Arts. This episode written by Nathan Gray, edited by Danni Zuvela, script consultation by Dr. Rikke Bungaard-Nielsen and titles and examples by Makiko Yamamoto.

    Featuring music by Vera Dvale (https://soundcloud.com/eravale)
    recordings by Andrew Skeoch, Aural Archipelago and a recording of Nathaniel Mann's pigeon whistles.

    roguesyntaxprimer@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 1 min
    2 - Animal Languaging

    2 - Animal Languaging

    In the second episode of Rogue Syntax: Primer we listen in to animal signals, and attempt to place them within the context of their own worlds - worlds that we humans have become increasingly distanced from but which nonetheless resonate with calls, responses, songs and sonic forms we as yet lack the capacity to understand.

    In other words we look at the language-like capacities of our animal relatives and what they make possible – communication and cooperation both within and between species. We've called this episode ANIMAL LANGUAGING as a result.

    We want to echo anarchist scientist-philosopher Peter Kropotkin's famous 1902 observation that there is far more to animals and their worlds than meets the eye (or ear, as it were), when he wrote:

    “As soon as we study animals — not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe and the mountains — we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle.”

    This episode is dedicated to the spirit of ongoing curiosity regarding non-human others and their communicative capacities, and draws from the work (both written and sonic) of the following thinkers:

    Dr. Jenny Allen, Peter Kropotkin, Noam Chomsky, Alistair Pennycook, Ron Nagorcka, Hollis Taylor, Emily Dickinson, Con Slobodchikoff, John Berger, Val Plumwood, Cath Clover, Felicity Mangan, Olle Holmberg, Charles Hartshorne, Tim Low, Jennifer Ackerman, Donald Kroodsma, Pablo Neruda, Nathan Emery, Andrew Skeoch, Sarah Koschak, Sonia Kleindorfer, Gisela Kaplan, Louise Lawler, Charles Darwin, Frank Watlington, Roger Payne, Judy Collins, Lili Hall, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Krebs, Amotz Zahavi, Anastasia Dalziell and the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustic Laboratory at the University of Queensland at the Moreton Bay Research Station."

    • 1 hr 23 min
    Contexts 2: Field Recordings with Felicity Mangan

    Contexts 2: Field Recordings with Felicity Mangan

    This is Rogue Syntax - Contexts No. 2 with Felicity Mangan. Felicity is a sound artist and composer based in Berlin who works with the varying timbres of animal voices combining them into quasi bio-acoustic environments.

    She has recordings out on Longform Editions and Mappa Editions, and you can check her stuff out on felicitymangan.org

    We’re hosting some of her field recordings here as context for the next episode in which we examine the complexities of animal communications and one of the things we’re trying to do is break down the hard border between animal communications and human language.

    Alistair Pennycook has been a guiding light in this research and in his book Applied Post-Human Linguistics he states:

    “we can start to think of language, cognition and agency not merely as distributed across different people but rather as distributed beyond human boundaries and as playing an active role in a world that is not limited to human activity alone.”

    While eco-feminist scholar Val Plumwood says,
    “Human/nature dualism is a double-sided affair, destroying the bridge between the human and the non-human from both ends, as it were, for just as the essentially human is disembodied, disembedded and discontinuous from the rest of nature, so nature and animals are seen as mindless bodies, excluded from the realms of ethics and culture.”

    So if we’re going to look at animal communications we’re going to have to get embodied, embedded and continuous - and one of the ways we can do that is to listen to animal voices and bodies in their contexts, and of course field recordings are a great way to do that.

    So here’s a selection of field recordings by Felicity with comments, we hope you enjoy them.

    • 21 min
    Contexts 1 - Critical Flicker Frequencies by Nathan Gray

    Contexts 1 - Critical Flicker Frequencies by Nathan Gray

    While we’re making Episode 2 of Rogue Syntax: Primer on animal communications, we thought we’d prepare the ground with a few relevant artworks for you. Here we present Critical Flicker Frequencies by our very own Nathan Gray, which also strolls through the animal world via the problematics of perception.

    "...this eyeless animal finds the way to her watchpoint [at the top of a tall blade of grass] with the help of only its skin’s general sensitivity to light. The approach of her prey becomes apparent to this blind and deaf bandit only through her sense of smell. The odor of butyric acid, which emanates from the sebaceous follicles of all mammals, works on the tick as a signal that causes her to abandon her post (on top of the blade of grass/bush) and fall blindly downward toward her prey. If she is fortunate enough to fall on something warm (which she perceives by means of an organ sensible to a precise temperature) then she has attained her prey, the warm-blooded animal, and thereafter needs only the help of her sense of touch to find the least hairy spot possible and embed herself up to her head in the cutaneous tissue of her prey. She can now slowly suck up a stream of warm blood."

    -- Giorgio Agamben, from The Open: Man and Animal (2004) paraphrasing Jakob von Uexküll’s "A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men: A Picture Book of Invisible Worlds," in Instinctive Behavior: The Development of a Modern Concept (1957).

    • 13 min
    1 - Between the Ear and The Mouth

    1 - Between the Ear and The Mouth

    This episode offers listeners a high-end undercoat of linguistic basics, upon which successive Rogue Syntax layers will be built.

    A project by Nathan Gray, Makiko Yamamoto & Danni Zuvela, with linguist Rikke Bundegaard-Nielson, supported by Liquid Architecture (Melbourne), 1646 (The Hague) and Australia Council for the Arts.

    • 56 min

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