Update: December 15, 2017

With about 3.5/4 months left in the project, another update is in order. Its been a busy few months (and busier times to come!) so I’ll do my best to re-cap:

Anthropocene Curriculum | Drexel University

I had the pleasure to attend a continuation of Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s Anthropocene Curriculum at Drexel University. It was a great gathering of researchers and practitioners – primarily from the fields of History and Science & Technology Studies with some artists and geographers as well. For me, it was a particularly interesting exercise thinking from the perspectives of History, specifically with regard to writing histories and narratives of anthropogenic climate change. While a lot of my work rests of the particular navigation of bodies with relation to climate and environment, it was fascinating to hear and participate in discussions about historical framings of environmental knowledge(s).

Mobile Utopias Conference | Lancaster University

Next, I traveled from the US to Lancaster, UK to present my paper “Deep Time, Slow Dance: Sixteen (and counting) Propositions for Atmospheric Sensuality – or – Future-Tense Vibrations” alongside Sasha Engelmann (Royal Holloway University of London), Bronislaw Szerszynski (Lancaster University), and Rob LaFrenais (as discussant) in a session entitled Atmospheric Adventures in the Aerocene: Heterotopias of Aerial Mobility. Taking its initiative impulse from the work of visual artist Tomas Saraceno’s Aerocene project (in which Sasha, Bron, and myself have all been a part of), all of our papers reflected on utopian ideas of atmospheric movement, exchange, energetics, and transferences. My paper specifically reflected on theoretical and practical production of infrasound at the site of the ‘urban canopy’ – at high-rise level – as a way of understanding notions of sounding urban atmospheres. What are ways that are cities produce and augment sound, and what are some specific ‘signature’ infrasonics that might result from the interactions between large-scale human engineering and Earth-magnitude forces.

Abstract:

Author David Woodward’s fictional, occult machine, the Feraliminal Lycanthropizer

(described in the 1990 pamphlet by the same name) exists somewhere between a

mind-control device, a sonic weapon, and a party trick. Through the generation of

infrasonic tones and garbled recorded text loops, it gives humans access to both

repressed and animal energetics, causing hypnosis, trance induction, expansive

sexual stimulation, and a general loss of inhibitions. In Woodward’s account, when

switched on at parties, cocktail hour quickly gives way to an orgiastic gathering, free

of time. The Lycanthropizer occupies as well the same role as mesmerism and

phantasms did in the Victorian Imaginary – an idea split between the worlds of

science and parlour game. These Victorian party experiments arise simultaneously

to the industrial boom that forever changed vertical and horizontal urban sonic

ecologies. We might think of the Feraliminal Lycanthropizer as the ‘background

music’ at our party midway between the atmosphere and the ground – our little

gathering at the urban canopy. If Woodward speaks about the Lycanthropizer as

emitting an “aurotics,” might we be able to imagine an ‘aerotics’ as movement and

co-creation with atmospheric sound? A slow dance with the atmosphere; a mobile

sounding. The urban canopy is the midpoint of our travel upwards: the center of

reflections between atmospheric/planetary infrasonics and ground-based, urban

infrasound. At this party, we hear our upstairs neighbors’ dancing footsteps and the

knocking of the downstairs neighbor’s broomstick against the ceiling. Using the

Feraliminal Lycanthropizer as an initializing sound to open up the human body for

vertical, energetic crossings, and based on the author’s research in psychoacoustics,

infrasound, and histories of hearing, this paper explores practical and speculative

modes of incorporating urban infrasonic sound as propositions for creating and

moving within spaces of sonic atmospheric attunement. How should we have this

last slow dance with the atmosphere before the music turns off?

 

Deep Time, Slow Dance: Propositions” Lecture | University of Leeds

A Shadow Feeling at the National Science + Media Museum | Bradford, UK

After a short break in Berlin, I returned to Leeds/Bradford in order to realize a project I had been developing with Annie Jamieson at the National Science + Media Museum (Bradford) and give a lecture at the University of Leeds.

My lecture was a great opportunity as it was maybe the largest amount of (speaking) time I was able to devote to consolidating my research up to this point. Though the lecture’s target audience were those from the Music Department, the lecture focused broadly on the ability for sound (specifically infrasound) to help us understand Earth-magnitude events and processes – that is, event structures and patterns that are non-synchronous with human time scalings. Topics discussed were:

  • Natural/Artificial Infrasound

  • Effects of Infrasound on the Human Body

  • Spatio-temporal scales of infrasound

  • The work of Maryanne Amacher in connection with her approach to Interval as environmental feedback

  • ‘Environmental Affect’ and Jean-Luc Nancy’s ideas of flows of affect

  • Compositional techniques I use (or am developing) as a way of working with all of the above ideas

Immediately after the lecture, I rushed over to the NSMM to give a performance of A Shadow Feeling, developed through a cooperation with the Museum over the past few months. The performance itself is comprised of three separate sound installations (two stereo installations in a hallway and stairwell, and a quadraphonic installation in a gallery), and a 5.1 IMAX film projected in the museum’s IMAX theatre. Audience members were led around in groups through the installations, ending up in the basement quadraphonic gallery for a summary live performance of material. The recorded installations and IMAX film were looped material of different lengths, so that multiple tours could be taken by the same group and ensure that groups would encounter different combinations of content.

The basis of the piece was of low-frequency resonance measurements taken of the NSMM in September, where we identified the frequencies that best resonated from the walls of the IMAX theatre while playing pink noise. After this measurement, installation points were chosen at locations where there was the most bleed, and the sound was composed using the resonant and bleeding frequencies as a basis. At the listening installations therefore, audience can hear the bass frequencies of the IMAX theatre through the walls and doors, and the separate installation material (generally of higher-pitched material) on top.

Upcoming Residencies:

January 2018: Composer-in-Residence, Visby International Centre for Composers (Visby, SE)

February 2018: Artist-in-Residence, The Tetley (Leeds, UK)