Sounds of the beginnings.

The Girl-Machine is born into this world at a production line, actually. At the beginning, she is lying down, moving along some hooks, hoses and "strings of sparks”. Like a factory-made product. It is growing, new structural elements are added, while its awareness of the shape and limits is growing as well. I can guess what kinds of sounds accompany this process. When I was about twenty years old, I heard my fair share of production line sounds, when I transported components of such lines to many different places in Poland, in a failed attempt to make my father’s dream come true – a dream that his business that involved implementing automatic weighing, dosing, and packaging processes would be taken over by one of his sons. I was to enter this world first as a driver. For a few years at the very end of the last century and the beginning of this one, in the wee hours of the morning I drove off in different vehicles, filled with various kinds of equipment, to reach factories situated in different areas, mostly in the northern regions of the country, and deliver the equipment. Sometimes I would stop on the way, at another factory, to collect additional elements. As I waited for the loading and unloading of all these scales, control cabinets, motors for conveyors, feeders, dispensers, rotors and vibrators, cable reels, boxes full of fuses, switches, circuit breakers, detectors and what not, whether I wanted or not, I listened to the sounds of all those places. The set of those sounds is very specific. At first, it is a cacophony, but after a while, it reveals a multi-layered, moving order with lots and lots of shorter and longer regular cycles. The foreground is filled with sounds of indefinite pitch – knocks, crackles and noise, but if you focus a little, you start hearing a particularly interesting depth in the background, formed by sounds with more defined pitches, often on the non-harmonic spectrum, unevenly tempered, creating melodies, counterpoints and chords. I’m guessing that for the employees, that background is usually unnoticeable, unbearable at times, but for an occasional visitor – surprisingly beautiful. The engine on the yacht that I mentioned while writing the Siren, amplified and written out for multiple voices, with the addition of the whale-bird-like, machine singing. I am also reminded of my previous experiences of a similar kind, especially my grandfather’s garage, with the terrifying, aggressive sound of the compressor that would sometimes and suddenly turn on, with that strange, disturbing hiss-groan-whistle of a welder, the whirring-whistling of a big column drilling machine, the whining of a circular saw, and the ringing of the ceiling chain hoist. Add to this the irregular but distinct sounds of pulling out and closing of drawers filled with screws, washers and nuts, lifting and putting away bigger and smaller wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and pincers, sawing, grinding and banging into different kinds of items with various hammers differing in weight and material, made of steel or rubber. And the sound of steps and of moving heavy items across the concrete floor covered by metal filings and wooden sawdust. And every now and then, the sound of sweeping that floor with a brush that had short, metal bristle or sometimes with a twig, resembling a witch’s broom. My grandfather's garage was more of an intimate sonata rather than a factory’s symphony, but it was very impressive in early days. By the way, the echoes of these impressions can be found in Half-filled Diary. They will also be present here.


The second type of the sound background that is important at the beginning is also a multi-layered polyphony, but this time – it is organic. When the Girl-Machine enters the ballroom, she is immersed in the loud bustle and hustle of voices. Music is also there, somewhere deeper and further away, but it is dominated by the conversations, laughter, shouting, sighs, and more. Single words, or parts of words, do not make any sense. Overwhelming, homogeneous noise. Like the first day in the kindergarten, when suddenly, from the predictable, rather subdued sound environment of the first few years of life, you fall into the high-decibel chaos of a group of your peers. Noise-chaos marks being on the threshold. You'd rather not be here, you’d rather go home. But you can't. And you can’t just stand still, refusing to participate at all. Closing your eyes and covering your ears is a short-lived, ineffective strategy. You need to go into the current. I guess that’s probably how it is with being born, even though we don't remember it. Or maybe that's how the entire world is born. Following the first daze of the initial explosion, you are overwhelmed by the desire to stop, to curl up in to a ball, to return to who knows what. And that desire never goes away. No such luck.


The girl must cross the threshold and move ahead. Why and to whom? She doesn’t know that, but it is known. From beginning to end, irreversibly.


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)