To Paweł Szroniak


Today the space is not empty. It is crisscrossed by lines, marked with diagonals, filled with monads and movements in the air. It is a two-dimensional drawing of a multidimensional world. There is a grid. There are curves and shifts in the plane that follow and depart from the river that runs through the center. There are wormholes invisible on any grid, but whose presence is everywhere indicated. You are the nomads of the city. You walk through a colored medium in fog, guided by vibration.
In the City

Human voices are sometimes clear and intelligible, sometimes muffled and dim. Sometimes they are prelinguistic but communicative. Sometimes a word rings in the air. “Forward!” “Art!” “Future!”

The crowd moves together, crisscrossing the square. Their roar is a blur of mid-frequency hum and noise. Shifted by the wind, the sound alternately follows and leads them.

Cars, ubiquitous in the modern city, are muted. In their place is a cloud of very bright white noise that passes above the height of the crowd. The noise makes all the stops of the local streetcars.

There are many sirens. They cascade into the squares of the city, layered upon each other to form volleys of dissonant chords, expanding and receding in waves.

A crackling and rustling of paper. Pamphlets are distributed. Now the readers come to understand, all at once and in different languages (Polish, English, German, Yiddish, Farsi, Spanish, Mandarin) that something is taking place.

The city is a thicket. It is tangled with voices.
In the Air

A map is a collection of points and lines that abstracts the geometry of movement onto the flat plane. On the ground the reality is different – places are arrived at by accident or incident, through the paths opened up or closed off by the tides of traffic and detritus in the streets.

The birds overhead follow a more direct trajectory. They whistle and caw at the confused pathways they see below. They have taken their cries to the trees in the forest and raised up an anthology of song that overwhelms the thrumming din of the computer network and of the central station.

Beneath the pavement the cold earth is hard. Do secret messages pass through this ground? Do they vibrate through the sewer system? Are they spread along the paths laid by the mushrooms?

The river moves silently through the center.
Within the Presence of Absent Sounds

The city is as full of absent sounds as it is of those that reach us directly.

Those from the past. You may hear the train that used to run through this area. Or the echo of streets that have disappeared. Or the spaces created by buildings demolished by capital. Or the languages of the lost inhabitants.

And those from the future. The clanging bell calling the crowd back to the center has yet to sound. The announcement that will change the life of the city forever.
And in a space of absolute quiet between the sounds …
… we will forge a chord of crystalline structure so clear that it will ring for a generation.


Inspired by Zbigniew Gostomski’s The Fragment of the System (The Wrocław City).

May be used in conjunction with Matěj Frank’s It Could Be Started Anywhere.

October, 2020

Michael Pisaro-Liu (b. 1961) – composer and guitarist from Buffalo, NY. Since 1993 he has been an active member of the Wandelwesier collective, which is involved in the creative development of John Cage’s ideas on sound perception and it’s relationship to space, time and text. In his work he frequently uses silence as one of the basic compositional means. He has written over eighty pieces for various instrumental combinations (including works for variable instrumentation). They have been performed many times in the United States and Europe, as well as published by Edition Wandelweiser Records, Erstwhile Records, Potlach or Another Timbre. Founder of the Gravity Wave record label. He collaborates with such artists as Greg Stuart, Antoine Beuger, Keith Rowe, Taku Sugimoto, Toshiya Tsunoda, Christian Wolff, Graham Lambkin, Reiner van Houdt. Pisaro-Liu is also a valued academic teacher. He currently teaches composition at the California Institute of the Arts, but has also conducted guest seminars at Harvard University among others.