The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellow 2018
Project Proposal: Mémoire
Mémoire is a collaged collection of compasses in sound and image for navigating the gendered terrain between aurality and visuality in the process of constructing the self. In this project I talk with individuals who have come to define themselves across multiple cultural contexts. I will document my learning about how they navigate these processes with audio and video recordings. For example, I might ask a migrant what, if anything, feels different about being seen and heard in their new home. I will create collages of these recorded materials, archive my collages as a telematic exhibition, and then further sculpt the materials into a live performance.
Cartesians locate the advent of subjecthood in aurality; Lacanians locate the advent of subjecthood in visuality. Feminists have both reinforced and resisted both the Cartesian and Lacanian models of subjecthood. Jennifer Ruth Hosek and Walter J. Freeman propose a model that defines the self as “forming through embedding itself in its surroundings.” You are, in other words, what you eat (and touch and smell and see and hear). “A self’s ontogenesis is through that self’s actions into its environment,” they write.
Social ontologists understand such environments to be culturally constructed. Your perceptual actions into your environment (a) are shaped by the environment, (b) shape the environment, and (c) shape you. In environments where aurality is feminized and visuality is masculinized, your gender identity inevitably shapes your perceptual actions. If there is merit to either the Cartesian or the Lacanian models, the advent of your subjethood and your subjecthood itself would have a reflexive relationship with aurality, visuality, and your gender identity through your perceptual actions. My project is a creative exploration with sound and image into this hypothesis.
Project Report: Mémoire
Mémoire (2019) is an immersive installation concerned with how women navigate the gendered terrain between aurality and visuality as they construct their selfhoods.
In this project I bear witness to the personal narratives of four individuals who have defined themselves with sound and image across multiple contexts of femininity. I ask them to consider a change in their habitat or in how they inhabit their body, and then answer the question:
“How did that migration or transformation change how you felt heard and seen?” As I listen to them answer my question, I make a binaural audio recording of their voice (captured from my own ears) and a video recording of their eyes (as they make eye contact with me). I edit the content minimally and the respondents sometimes answer in languages other than English or in multiple languages that I do not understand. A collage of these recordings is set with a soundscape response to my listening experience made with SuperCollider.
A 2-channel audio and 2-channel video realization with spanish-language captions by Daniel Szabo was exhibited at the Havana Biennial and the Studios at MassMoCA in Spring 2019. Documentation of this realization can be found at: https://archive.org/details/mem2chan. A 4-channel audio + 4-channel video realization planned for Laconia Gallery in Boston was cancelled in the Covid-19 crisis.
Immediately after my work on mémoire , I became pregnant. The Feminist readings of the Cartesian and Lacaniaian models of subjecthood that I explored in my work on mémoire took on new meanings for me. My subsequent work, radiant drift, immediately evolved from my lingering thoughts and questions.
Pregnant in the winter of 2019 with the fetus who would become my daughter, I made hydrophone recordings from my cervix periodically between viability and birth.
Radiant drift accounts for the relative motion of my daughter and
me in spatialized audio as we individuated in gestation. The literal hydrophone
recordings are set in counterpoint against a poetic rendering in analog electronics.
The work was released by Pan Y Rosas Discos in 2020 here: