Good Noise

The term “good noise” has been with me for a long time.  Although there is no one clear reason why I chose this name for my photography, the following bits and pieces might help you better understand my connection to it.  The list is always growing.

1.  At Summerfolk, many years ago, I had the opportunity to hear John Gorka sing a song called “Good Noise” that included the lines “Tell me the truth what are you living for/Tell me why, why are you near/’Cause if you cannot make yourself a good noise/Tell me what you’re doing here.” Over the last few years, I have slowly come to a better understanding of the truth in those words. If we are to dig our way out of the very real problems we currently find ourselves in, we must ALL speak out in some form. We must take responsibility for our communities by challenging, questioning and sharing as it has become obvious that we can’t rely on others to do it for us.

Mr. Gorka writes later in the song “Oh it seems that so much trouble/Is simply caused by the angry word/Although silence can be a virtue/I say it’s a good noise that’s preferred”. For a long time, although my wife may disagree, I have stayed relatively quiet, believing it was not my place to speak out. But since those who speak out the most appear more interested in creating ignorance, fear, anger, and sadness in this beautiful world my children will inherit, I feel I have a responsibility to share my “good noise” for others to experience and learn from. If nothing else, it might inspire some thought, which is never a bad thing.

2.  Nate:  Stop listening to the static!

Claire:  What the fuck does that mean?

Nate:  Nothing, it just means that everything in the world is like a transmission, making its way accross the dark.  But everything – death, life, everything – it’s all completely suffused with static. [makes static sounds]  You know?  But if you listen to the static too much it fucks you up.

From Six Feet Under

3.  “The eye should learn to listen before it looks”   Robert Frank

4.  Noise – physics – a persistent disturbance that reduces or obscures the quality of a signal.  I believe that we all have an obligation to question authority (I even have a bumper sticker that says this so it must be true).  I like to think I am obscuring the quality of some of the questionable signals.

5.  Noise has a specific connection to digital photography.  Noise is almost always considered a negative in a photo.  However, in some ways, everything is noise – so we must believe there is good noise and bad noise.  I also try to embrace all sorts of noise in my photography, whether it is blur or real noise.

6.  Music has always played an important role in my life.  Lately, I have been listening to Canadian bands like the Dears, Broken Social Scene, and Arcade Fire.  One of the things I like about these bands is how they take all kinds of dissonant noises – noises you would not normally consider to be conducive to making music – and put them together into some very orchestral sounding songs.  They literally make good noise.