Carlos Gárate Marquerie (Spain) 


SUB is a sound performance that aims, by exploring the acoustic activity of the underground, to make audible sound spectra that usually go unnoticed. Here, subterranean sounds recorded by the artist with geophones are edited and arranged in a performance that shows the dynamics of the Earth.

With SUB Carlos tries to explore the sounds of the anthropocene, the geological epoch in which we are. In this era humans have become one of the strongest geophysical forces on Earth. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans and even the Earth’s crust.

The causes of this scenario can be found in the physical infrastructure of capitalism: big cities,industrial complexes, massive transport systems, etc… Carlos considers that this infrastructure produce acoustic activity on the underground, a space that vibrates and where the sounds of natural origin of immense scale such as earthquakes and the rotation of the Earth itself melt with the sounds produced by human activities. Sounds that are projected to the underground and are an unmistakable sign of the anthropocene.


Sub is a performance that, by exploring the acoustic activity of the underground, the underlayer of the Earth’s surface, aims to show and make audible sound spectra that normally go unnoticed and establish a connection between the anthropocene, the limits of human perception and the digital software . It consists in edited sounds from the underground that I recorded with a geophone, a very sensitive industrial device used to measure vibrations that I use as a very powerful contact microphone. Those sounds are processed by a distortion module and a reverb.

The distortion is a module that uses dirt/soil to process the signal that you put in (check). It basically is a pile of earth inside an Eurorack module, conditioning an amplifier circuit and producing distortion. The module was designed and built by Martin Howse. The reverb is a convolution one created by me. What I did to create it is the next: I buried two speakers, played a sound on them and recorded the result with the geophone that was attached to the ground near by the speakers. I used that sound file to create a reverb that sounds quite distorted and unreal, very digital. It is the software’s interpretation of the underground’s space. I consider here that I put in relation the Earth with the software and the sound.

We are now in the anthropocene, the geological era that follows the Holocene. In this era humans have become the most relevant geological force on Earth. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans and even the Earth’s crust. It has also started the six species extinction.

This situation demands the ability to abstract thinking to points where it has not been necessary before and understand that there is a reality beyond our senses. It requires a deeper study of matter and energy, of living and non-living elements. It is crucial breaking with the anthropocentric thinking that leaves the planet in this extreme situation and I believe that we only can do it using modern technology.

The underground is a sonic space, a space that vibrates and where the sounds of natural origin melt with the sounds produced by the human activities that lead to the anthropocene. A geophone can capture sounds from the rotation of the earth, the ones produced by the friction caused in the crust by ocean tides and even the activity of small insects that live underground. But it also captures the work of nearby mines, the vibration of buildings, port activity, sounds from a close highway and almost whatever activity that uses large scale means.

What I want is to access these movements that happen where we can not be and at a rate of vibration that can not perceived by us. The fact that we don’t perceive it vibrate doesn’t mean that it is not vibrating. understanding that our perception’s limit happens here because a difference on timescales is crucial to understand the anthropocene.

This way I want to explore a space that we usually consider motionless but is moving constantly providing clues of where we are going in this time of changing ecologies. My goal is to dive into problems such as these and imagine speculative alternatives to the common rational discourses, which are in fact at least partially backed by science and philosophy old and new.

Author Biography

Carlos Gárate Marquerie (Madrid,1989) is a sound artist that lives and works in Madrid. He received his B.A in Sound Arts from London College of Communication. Carlos’ research encompasses theory and practice, focusing on the agency of Earth’s materiality and energies on social systems. He works primarily with electromagnetic waves and subterranean vibrations to build his music performances and sound installations. He has performed in places such as Spain, Greece, France and the UK. He also has been invited to speak about the relation of sound and the Anthropocene at Basel (SWZ) and Knoxville’s Universities (US).

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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