Texas Sonar Project
Radio stories about Texas created and recorded by undergraduate students. Season 1 will be broadcast on KEOS 98.1 FM between February 8 and May 17, every Thursday 4:30 pm. You can listen to the previous episodes here.
Brazos Valley Echolocation
Brazos Valley Echolocation is an art-research collective based in central Texas engaged in documenting and (re)presenting public demonstrations. The collective was conceived by Texas A&M faculty Elise Morrison, James Ball, and me. Click here to visit the soundmap web site.
Texas Soundmap Project (TSP)
The central idea of the TSP is to map out Texas’ acoustic history and diversity. Materials presented here come from three main sources: collaborative research with Texas A&M undergraduate students, recordings from sound archives, recordings from personal collections. Click here to visit the TSP.
1st SEM Sounding Board
This annual collective sound exhibit showcases the creative work of scholars attentive to the spatial, acoustemological, and ethnographic potential of sound. The SEM Sounding Board aims at operating through the interstices of sound-as-episteme and sound-as-performance, sound-as-symbol and sound-as-affect, sound-as-ethnography and sound-as-art.
The first Sounding Board included nine works that explored sonic in-placements (water and wind), sonic displacements (the telephone, the radio, and the microphone), sonic emplacements (the acoustic territories of urban Taiwan, the Brazilian hinterlands, and West Texas), and sonic mix-placements (in Mexico City and Havana).
Salsa Casino Audiovisual Installation
I designed this interactive installation in collaboration with Jeff Morris (Dept. of Performance Studies) and graduate student Mayra Valle, who created choreographies based on her research on the Salsa Casino repertoire within pre-revolutionary, revolutionary, and contemporary Cuba. As Valle discusses in her thesis (and shows in her choreography), Casino performers of African descent have demonstrated a complex understanding of their identities within the Cuban state. Casino Salsa has been able to facilitate the counterculture of the Black community within a seemingly homogenous Cuban national identity.
The installation includes one Introduction dance and three dances showing varying degrees of Afro-Cuban influence. The kiosk has a 5.1 surround system, a footboard that vibrates with low frequencies, and a camera that interacts with the user’s movements. The installation starts the Introduction dance whenever someone approaches, and then moves to the three dances. During the dances, the user is encouraged to explore his/her own body and the dance rhythms and gestures “inside” the music (we recorded different instruments across the 5.1 surround system). The amount of movement captured by the camera determines the thickness of the music textured played.
Affective Oscillations Sound Installation
Another collaboration with Jeff Morris. I ran this installation in parallel with the course Performing (in) the City, which focuses on the idea of cities as performances and performances in cities. Each class discusses one city, especially the relations between the infrastructural/tangible and the cultural/intangible. I approach cultural performances by discussing urbanization processes, major reconfigurations of spatial distribution, and how specific cities have been imagined and represented.
Affective Oscillations probes into the soundscapes of five American cities (New York, New Orleans, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Havana) in moments of collective drama. Each city soundscape is presented as cycles of celebration, crisis, and everyday sounds from archival and personal collections.
“Affect” here relates not only to multiple attachments of city residents to city spaces (to their material infrastructure and imagined collectivity), but also to what Kathleen Stewart refers to as ordinary affects: “An animate circuit that conducts force and maps connections, routs and disjunctures. A kind of contact zone where the overderminations of circulations, events, conditions, technologies, and flows of power literally take place […] more directly compelling that ideologies, and more fractious, multiplicitous, and unpredictable than symbolic meanings” (Stewart 2007: 6).
“Oscillation” refers to the shifts between moments of social continuity and rupture. It also refers to the “acoustic zooming in/out” that occur throughout the installation. First, all five cities are mixed, with sounds from each city coming from a single speaker (the original installation is 5.1 surround). Next, one city takes over the room, with an assemblage of crisis, celebration, and everyday sounds. After that, the installation zooms in to everyday sounds of one city, alternated with crisis and celebration sounds. Once enveloped by one affective mode, the installation continues zooming in, and each sound recording is played individually. Once all individual sounds are played, the piece zooms out and moves to another city. The projected photos help visitors navigate across cities and affective modes.
Presenting the installation in the Humanities Visualization Space during an event on data visualization organized by the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture.
Workshop: Everyday Soundscapes in Urban Brazil
While doing fieldwork in São Paulo for my doctoral dissertation, I approached the SESC (Social Service of Commerce) to propose a workshop on the sociality of everyday sounds. The SESC is a popular public-private enterprise present in several districts across São Paulo. It has been an important cultural, educational, and recreative institution in the city, offering to the local community a range of activities at an affordable cost.
I conducted the workshop at SESC Vila Mariana between July and August. In the first part of the workshop, we discussed R. Murray Schafer’s notion of soundscape (keynote sounds, signals, and soundmarks) and Steven Feld’s acoustemology concept.
In the second part of the workshop I distributed sound recorders and asked the participants to record sounds that were part of their routine. After that, each participant (myself included) used the recordings to create a sonic collage, which was presented and discussed in class. I found this project particularly productive for approaching the blurry line separating sound effect (what impacts the listener and informs how s/he navigates the environment) and sound affect (what attracts the listener and stimulates a more reflexive engagement with the environment).
Here are some of the collages created during the workshop: