The House Conspiracy

This soundscape is an installation exercise in performance, audio and textual layering

A Conspiracy

July-August 2017​

[Background noise: record player needle scratches vinyl — shiiik-a, shiiik-a, shiiik-a —
          Music on a loop]

Whispered: “I’m sleeping the night in the House, which so far hasn’t shifted or clicked or ticked, as buildings do when they brace against heat or cold.” The House’s acoustics are warm.

                                    “Look, there’s no one around, so I’m not sure why I’m whispering. So, um,


        Born in the desert:
My parents have married many times, in many countries, as many people. Over the centuries they came, on boats, in planes, as refugees as settlers. Fated, the lovers always find one another. I too have been born many times over; each time, always to them.
When I look out to sea I see turbulence and fear.
I live near rivers because they are the way: jalan-jalan; in so many languages “way”, “road” and “walk” are the same word. Roaming gypsy-rivers, curious and braided. Led by what may be, and desire. No confusion or hesitation. Their songs let me know where I stand. I feel safe.
When I look at this city I see trouble.
Then we dam them, drain them, shit in them. There are right and wrong ways to prepare a mangga seed; there are right and wrong ways to navigate a road. (Declassified May 11, 1973)

[record player needle scratching vinyl]                                     [distance]                                                    [dull mechanical pounding]

      What could that thud thud thud be? A thrumming and a hounding.

             It scrambles my brain, so my thoughts, just at the edge, here, at the edge, are muddled, and I don’t recognise my thinking as being distorted

Time passes.

       Whispered (again? — why whisper?): “It’s after midnight and most of the street noise has died down.
       Only the odd car or person passing.” [Why is spending the night in the House something to be coy about?]
       “Here’s what I thought the dawn chorus might sound like, greeting me in the morning:”
[record player needle on vinyl] [mechanical thrumming] [voice] [hard-sole shoes on wooden floorboards]
       : magpies and crows and parrots and cockatoos and curlews and owls

Birds. Do they fly here, too?

[5am: unearthly noise — hydraulics? — wakes me]
          Grinding cutting. Machinery metal being wrung. A strained twisting

“Big developers making big developments for big money:”

[needle on vinyl]
“Penal colony,
Light industry,
Expo 88,
West End Village
We don’t need to go into that here …”

[needle on vinyl]

    Magpies and crows

“I would like to acknowledge the traditional peoples”

Simply won’t quit.

   “Of the land on which we stand

And to pay my respect to Elders past and present
And to extend that respect to the Ancestors of


This continent and its islands
[record player needle scratches vinyl]

This Country”

[record player needle scratches vinyl] [people’s voices]

the Ancestors, they travel, they do.

A classified CSIRO longitudinal study conducted back in the 1950s and ‘60s proved the Ancestors follow the songlines by using the Earth’s frequencies, so much more compressed in the southern hemisphere, to travel. They come and go by moving within the core patterns of the world. (universe)

Time passes

The Ancestors used to live everywhere, but now it’s just small pockets. (extinction?) It’s getting harder and harder for them to travel because their way is broken by fences and roads and buildings and Boundaries; (Declassified May 11, 1973)

no more jalan jalan

[cicadas on the wind] cicadas on the wing
West End was one of Brisbane’s first suburbs Meanjin’s
Kurilpa — place of the water rats: West End. Latitude 27s Longitude 150e Kurilpa

Let’s see what happens. A gesture. A recognition. Simply won’t quit. Look s and w, back to the ‘70s. Training cops under bridges close to rivers. Cut close to the bones. Of truth. Kurilpa A flowing bridge, repositioning like ribbon in wind.
The mangroves fight back. Simply won’t quit.

                 Acoustic resonance                          progress

[a distant mechanical thud] [what could…
[needle thrum thrum thrum]

City greats river        mangroves remain     Simply won’t quit.
“This whole idea {superfluity} of subtle ways, no not so subtle ways, for them to say, ‘You’re wrong; my way is right. You don’t fit’.”

Conventional ideas {accumulation} of appreciating convincing portrayals of [can’t say that here can’t say that here cantsaythathere] are beyond gender or race or sexuality. “A journey; I’ve taken in the science of it; the spirituality of it; I’ve interviewed the top palaeontologists, the ancient DNA guys, hydrologists; conservationists,

“And I’ve looked at what they’re


“… ‘We’ve got a lot to say,’ they say; ‘this is culturally relevant on a wide scale’.”
[player needle on record] [1980s-style saxophone solo — but a bit funkier and cooler than that]
[traffic, gentrification and mangroves. Resonance of progress]

 [traffic resonance progress] Each artist must mark the House somewhere — a suburban house transformed

“I embarked on a series of work, which embodies my realisation that all of these unknown forced assimilations, that all the experiences that make me feel my heritage is wrong, ‘in inverted commas’; these experiences are apparatuses,”

[gears thrumming: thud and clunk and throb]
“they are machines whose machinations click and tick as they contract or expand;
a persistent electric hum, wires before a storm,

[hissing steam]

“these machines erase everyday versions of myself and then rebuild something that’s said to be more transcendent, said to keep my psychology and emotions in balance… But the way I feel affects how others see me … I always had an awed dream of coming to Australia and there was this pull for me to go there to come here after I visited nyc’s natural history museum — ”

[the murmur of a house full of people enjoying themselves]

“I lovehate my stories … relationship stories, liberation stories … the characters break from memory … they look at periods where I had an idea of what I should be … My mind, scrambled, runs through productive and positive thoughts, at the edge, until I can’t do it anymore … The conceit is so much more visible when the rules are distorted … I’m not making a statement here, but showing myriad perspectives; I can get so much more done … Everyone has their invention of perception of everyone else — it’s like I base my imagination of your reality on the bits that I know, and then I try to optimise the reality that fills the one mysterious corner of that bit of you that I know …

One of the nice things about stepping back — I enjoy every part of the writing process — is piecing everything back together …”

                 Just at the edge, here, at the edge
                          I don’t recognise my thinking as being distorted

[This has been centred on puropse]

Musgrave makes me feel belonged no more bush tracks                                  West End only roads          Kurilpa

cutting separating dividing                             

Trees of old

        I sense the presence of others.         This

This continent
Its islands

(Declassified May 11, 1973):

This country is one remove from the cultural source, twice removed, three times; a continent–country that is an ad hoc triage on a home caesarean gone wrong. Every culture longs for a place in history that never was. The Portuguese call it Saudade. Like visiting my mother’s hospital bed in Canberra (Ngunnawal Country), my grief upon leaving her each day was for the impending loss, not a longing to return any time soon. The air goes slack when I think about it and I can’t breathe. So I try not to think about it. Longing for a history that never existed almost makes it come true. This continent is times apart; removed, here, from the cultural source, the land; and removed, here, from the people; removed twice or three times or four. This entire continent houses ghosts.

The House Conspiracy as an exercise in layering
The preceding text involves three concrete layers: (1) my initial word-for-word transcription of The House Conspiracy*, a 24-minute narrative soundscape completed during my House Conspiracy Artist ResidencyJuly 16–Aug 12, 2017; (2) excerpts from my novel Of Teak and Eucalyptus that explores an unidentified future history for this continent; and (3) numerous alterations to that initial transcript. The House Conspiracy V1 soundscape itself embodies three entangled sections: (1) recordings made during an overnight stay in the house; (2) a collective of ‘found sounds’ that shape The House Conspiracy V1, e.g. excerpts from House Conspiracy’s own podcast series, audio from online sources, music from Brisbane composer Joseph Burgess, and excerpts from qpf’s Brisbane Poetry Map (with artists’ permissions: Grace Lucas-Pennington, Sylvia Nakachi, Sam Wagon Watson); and (3) a recording I made during the House Conspiracy Showcase eventAug 11: here I set up Studio 4 as if I had been living there for some weeks, played The House Conspiracy V1 on a loop so when Showcase attendees entered the studio, listened to my audio, and looked at the scattered debris of living, I could record and document their responses. The House Conspiracy V2 (my final version, and simply known as The House Conspiracy*), includes, as an additional textural layer, the unedited recordings from that Showcase, sitting just beneath The House Conspiracy V1 recordings.