Like slow breathing, it seemed to emanate from inside the walls
12 March 2017

curated screening presented at LUX, 03.05.2016

related project: Stone Tapes

This programme derives its title from Nigel Kneale’s short story Minuke (1949). The narrator, a realtor, recounts the unfortunate tale that leads his clients to flee their home, a near seaside bungalow lovingly called Minuke, or ‘My Nook.’ The resident family receives escalating non-verbal hints to vacate, seemingly from the house itself: plumbing outbursts, rearranged furniture, food ‘suddenly and revoltingly decomposed.’ They confide to the realtor, and though doubtful he begins to speculate mysterious causes after his own encounters. He recalls the bungalow’s foundations are ‘enormous flat stones’ with concrete used to fill the gaps; they could be Norse, ‘or even very much older.’ Before the family’s unnatural eviction, a climatic scene unfolds in the kitchen. A conversation between the realtor and the father of the family reveals the persistent and unnerving sound the realtor thought to be the inhale/exhale of the sea is a false presumption; the humble bungalow is too far from the shore. The source is closer: walls breathing, deep, to their foundation.

Kneale revisits ancient foundations and their unknowable capacities in the 1972 BBC teleplay The Stone Tape. As a research team moves into a country estate to set up their lab, with the goal of developing a new recording medium, rumors circulate of a haunting in the cellar. Their computer programmer has an encounter in this harrowing room, which pre-dates the rest of the estate. Emerging from the stone of the wall, along unused steps leading nowhere, is a woman in a Victorian maid’s uniform; she brings her arms up to cover her face and screams. This woman is an image, a translucent flicker. The rest of the team soon experience the apparition in repeat appearances as they try to ascertain how it is stored in stone, seeing a possibility for the new recording medium they seek. Their director claims: ‘It’s the room…there is no ghost…the room holds an image and when people go in there they pick it up. …It must work like a recording. Fixed in the floor and the walls, right in the substance of them. A trace of what happened in there. And we pick it up. We act as detectors—decoders—amplifiers. …It’d have to be in the stone.’ Further testing of this hypothesis leads to traumatic consequences; the layers of recorded sediment can be erased, or more aptly, re-recorded.

Situated at the intersection between human and non-human perception, recording technologies provide a durational though flawed frame for experiential events, mundane or otherwise. On rare occasions there are traces of an irrational sort hiding within the recording, emergences that move beyond perceptual limitations into the data stream, traces that point nowhere and everywhere at once. A recording can be a glimpse of the conceptually out of reach, an unnerving fracture, a witness.

Considering the recording in all its (im)material forms, with all its potential (both latent and actualized), this programme seeks to engage with emergent absence and presence, the nebulous qualities of the sonic, (un)contained narratives, and that which can be termed ‘unhappened’.

Featuring work by: Leslie Peters & Dara Gellman, Tan Pin Pin, Jenny Perlin, Graeme Arnfield, Karen Cunningham, Emily Wardill, Steve Reinke, and Mark Aerial Waller.

This programme is part of an ongoing research/exhibition project called Stone Tapes begun in 2013. Research areas include: considerations of speculative fiction, Stone Tape Theory and approaches to Forensic Architecture, The Rhythmic Event, Imaginary Media, Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), and Numbers Stations, among other threads.


Pearl, Leslie Peters & Dara Gellman, 2002, 3:30

The Impossibility of Knowing, Tan Pin Pin, 2010, 11:37

Inaudible, Jenny Perlin, 2006, 1:44

Sitting in Darkness, Graeme Arnfield, 2015, 15:30

Mystics After Modernism, Karen Cunningham, 2012, 6:05

The Diamond (Descartes’ Daughter), Emily Wardill, 2008, 15:00

Squeezing Sorrow from an Ashtray, Steve Reinke, 1992, 5:45

The Sons of Temperance, Mark Aerial Waller, 2000, 7:15

*Programme notes available here.

Pearl, Leslie Peters & Dara Gellman, 2002

The Impossibility of Knowing, Tan Pin Pin, 2010

Inaudible, Jenny Perlin, 2006

Sitting in Darkness, Graeme Arnfield, 2015

Mystics After Modernism, Karen Cunningham, 2012

The Diamond (Descartes’ Daughter), Emily Wardill, 2008

Squeezing Sorrow from an Ashtray, Steve Reinke, 1992

The Sons of Temperance, Mark Aerial Waller, 2000