I'm tired of thinking about bad things.
In the midst of political turmoil, a global pandemic, and the seemingly endless bad news that saturates all virtual and physical communication lines, it has become increasingly difficult to access the headspace of neutrality. I don't want to be a neutral observer of history— I want to act. But acting demands so much of us, and in our confinement, we all deserve a respite from the constant motion.
While my body continues on (walking and stretching and baking and writing and voting and disinfecting and hugging and reading and tweeting and collapsing each night), I have decided to engage in an experiment that requires almost nothing of me: listening. Sound is a grounding force that tethers the body to what is most immediate. My original goal was to relax by paying attention, attempting to hear every single sound within earshot, but as I listened I began listing, as I so often do, enthralled by all that I had been missing. As the list grew, I longed to hold onto these sounds forever.
That longing gave shape to Sound Catalogue, a project built around four action-based principles:
When we listen carefully to the noises around us, our world expands exponentially — even the smallest of spaces can hold infinite sound. The home page of this website is a continuously updated list of sounds. The list, too, is infinite. Right now, visitors can click on words highlighted in purple to read a short piece of related poetry or prose. They can also submit their own content.
Sound Catalogue acts as both art installation and functional catalogue. It is my attempt to display sound in a virtual gallery, paying respect to the accidental beauty of audial experiences. Cataloguing has played an important role in history as a form of proactive remembrance. The cataloguing of animals, for example, allows us to learn from them even after extinction. In our current era, big things are happening, and the future feels more and more uncertain. Though it's frustrating to have such a lack of control, there is a place for close listening and physical stillness in progress and activism. We do our part by bearing witness. We do our part by listening. We do our part by documenting, and refusing to forget.
A never-ending, continuously updated list of sounds, some of which are accompanied by
short audio clips.
Sounds that spark thought are accompanied by personal interpretations in the form of short ekphrastic writings that span genres.
By clicking on the "submit"
tab, visitors can submit their own sound descriptions audio clips, and interpretations.
This contributes to the community and helps the catalogue to grow.
Hyperlinks create a web of similarities between the sounds. The more sounds are added, the more hyperlinks will appear. These highlight words or phrases, and once clicked, they take the reader to another similar sentiment expressed elsewhere in the catalogue.
Maxi Wardcantori is a writer and artist based in Jersey City. She is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Rutgers University, where she teaches undergraduate creative writing. Maxi holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Maxi’s interdisciplinary interests allow her to explore the boundaries of writing and art. Her ongoing project, Sound Catalogue, is an interactive virtual installation that seeks to catalogue and interpret the sounds of daily life. In her spare time, she enjoys tinkering in her basement and spending time outdoors.