Life through the computer. We all have had to grapple with it over the past year, as we attempt to wring as much meaning, intimacy, experience and variety as we can from our shiny boxes of electronics. Concerts, plays, ballet, meetings, dates, dinners, coffees and conferences all became just a click away. Some of us cocooned ourselves in soundscapes lost, from old streams from noisy bars, to recordings of natural locations we could no longer get to. It was by turns revelatory, empty, full, sad and comforting. In Schism’s title track Cheryl E. Leonard treats us to her own imaginings of the world within her laptop; a pulsating, flickering, stuttering morass of coil pick up recordings, set amid the co-mingling of crickets, squirrels, birds, bats, and sounds played on natural-object instruments. She asks: “What does it mean when our mediating technologies have both the power to connect us to and distance us from the ecosystems we are part of?” Certainly this is a question which predates the pandemic, but it is one which we grapple with now with a set of new knowledges which speak to both the possibilities, and the shortcomings of a life lived digitally.
In addition to her laptop recordings Leonard also turns to mics placed inside bottles to render the second piece on this release, Eremozoic. In the context this simple gesture takes on new resonances; a separation, enclosure, limitation which captures and reverberates particular tones, while missing others entirely. When I think of the computer in this era, I think of it like this, it exists as both echo chamber and conversation; alienation and hope. I think many of us have felt the last year, a little like life was lived inside a bottle. With this release Leonard reminds us of what we lost during the pandemic, but more profoundly what we might lose more permanently as we continue into the climate crisis. - Kate Carr
"Stumbling into the Age of Loneliness
I carry cloudy glass bottles to the edge of the Pacific.
After 100 years in dirt beneath San Francisco
they breathe fresh ocean air,
fill with the energy of breaking waves.
Microphones inside, ear to conch, I hear shadows:
scurrying, wing flaps, chirps and chatters, whimpers and bellows.
So many creatures, once emerged from the sea, now gone.
How many vessels would the disappeared fill?
What is the weight of a lost species?
I make an offering of listening
to help me carry all these ghosts we made." - Cheryl Leonard