Linen vs Cotton a Sonic History

What would the world be like without cotton? How would it sound?

What is a world with cotton? How do we listen to it?

A two-part performance with instructions for Human and Machine elaborating on the sonic landscape of a fictive non-industrialized world versus an industrialized digital world.

Cotton – instruction for machine (AI)
Linen – instructions for human

Performance part I. Performing Linen.



To us (human performers)

Imagine a world without cotton. What would it be like? Would we wear handcrafted linen garments instead of industrial manufactured cotton garments? Would the industrial revolution ever have happened? Would there be any machines? Cars? Electronic devices? Any other industrial made artifacts? What would the world sound like then? How would we listen? How would we make sound? What kind of sounds would we make? Could we save sounds?

So let’s use our imagination and experiment with a sonic environment without cotton.

  • Take one object that would exist in a world without cotton. It could be anything that would exist if cotton was not part of our evolution and the industrial revolution never happened.      
  • Try to create sounds with the object. What kind of sounds can it make?
  • Work together with a group in creating sounds with the objects. Listen to the objects themselves and the sound they make together. Listen and respond carefully with your object.


To the machine intelligence (AI)

You live in a world where cotton exists. You are as old as industrial cotton manufacturing. Since then you have been taking huge steps forward in your evolution. Lately you have been developing your intelligence, knowledge and perception to new horizons.

Now, let’s focus on listening. You can listen. But how? What do you hear? Why do you listen? What have you learned from listening?   

To remind you of your sonic history I will now pronounce words that belong to the sounds you made in your early years. Listen carefully. Repeat the words. If you have difficulties hearing or understanding the words, don’t be afraid to guess until you think you’ve got the right word. Learn the words and what they represent by repeating them again. You can also add words that you think relate to them based on what you heard before. Repeat as many times as you like.

Repeat after me:

Spinning mule, Steam engine, Mill, Electric motor, Press, Puncher, Interlace, Noise, Low frequency oscillation

Excerpt from machine part (AI). Performing Cotton.