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On June 28, I’ll be talking about Music for Plants at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado. This talk is part of an event series called 3 Things, Any 3 Things that mixes performance, lecture, and music. The tagline for the event reads: We bring you three experiences. We smash them together. We make no connections. Let’s see what happens. 

Alongside music for plants there will be a Hip hop harpist (Erin Newton) and a whiskey tasting (Ryan Negley). I’m pleased to do this lecture in the hometown of Dorothy Retallack, author of the book Sound of Music and Plants (1973), that famously spread the rumors that plants don’t have an ear for Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix’s acid rock.

MCA, Denver Colorado, June 28:
Music for Plants + Whiskey + Hip Hop Harpist 
with Carlo Patrão, Ryan Negley, and Erin Newton

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Kalun Leung is a trombone player based in New York City. This interview was recorded during a visit to Freshkills Park in Staten Island organized by the sound artist John Roach, the designer Andrew Shea and their students from the New School. The group is developing a series of installations for the park that translate ecological data into sensory experiences. Freshkills Park, once the world’s largest landfill, is now being transformed into a public park three times the size of Central Park.

Kalun Leung
Sound the Mound

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Zepelim’s radio piece Misophonia is included in the new Deep Wireless 13 radio art compilation curated by New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA). This work explores the condition of Misophonia and the varying degrees of sonic annoyances that arise from bodily functions while also reflecting upon the ways in which this health issue has been covered by the media. Deep Wireless 13 features several radio pieces on the spectrum of electroacoustic and experimental sound art. The album was produced for the 17th edition of Deep Wireless Festival of Radio & Transmission Art taking place between January 17 and April 16, 2018. Pieces were selected from an international call for submissions on the theme Sonic Reflections.

“The Deep Wireless festival has been celebrating the art of the aural imagination since 2002 with annual performances, broadcasts, workshops and many special events. This year’s theme is Sonic Reflections. Reflections of South River that are broadcast out into the world and reflections of the world resonating in our memories and imagination.”— Darren Copeland, NAISA

Artistic Director: Darren Copeland
Executive Director: Nadene Thériault-Copeland
Image Illustration: Prashant Miranda

Deep Wireless 13 Radio Art Compilation:

Naisa

Harvard University Ex-centric Music Studies Conference

Next February 2nd, I’ll be doing a presentation entitled “Botanical Rhythms: A field guide to plant music” at the conference Ex-centric Music Studies at Harvard University. This presentation is included in the panel “Relocating research: the core of practice” chaired by Vijay Iyer. The conference will explore subjects, methods, and modes of presentation that have been deemed ‘peripheral’ to music studies, and aims to offer participants an opportunity to present projects that might exceed the bounds of academic convention.

Friday, February 2 at 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST
Holden Chapel, Harvard Yard, Cambridge (MA)

 

Botanical Rhythms: A field guide to plant music

ABSTRACT – Plants are the most abundant life form visible to us. Despite their ubiquitous presence, most of the time, we still fail to notice them. The botanists Wandersee and Schussler call it plant blindness, an extremely prevalent condition characterized by the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment. Molly Roth And JimOur bias towards animals, or zoochauvinism, has been shown to have negative implications on funding towards plant conservation. Authors argue that artistic practices that engage plants in a sensorial and meaningful way can potentially generate emotional responses and concern towards plant life. This presentation reviews musical and sound art practices that incorporate plants and discusses the ethics of plant life as a performative participant. Starting in the early 70s, Music to Grow Plants By became a small footnote in the history of recorded music. However, it showed how the veiled nature of plants became attached to personal narratives, tastes and social values. In parallel, avant-garde movements interested in amplifying the noises of everyday life started to appropriate the sounding materiality of plants through contact microphones. John Cage’s amplified cactus became an icon of indeterminacy music. Plant-based generative music attempts to take a step forward into the inner life of plants by translating their biological activity.

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Creative chains linking plants, technology, music and touch can be found in site-specific installations and performances by artists like Mileece, Miya Masaoka, Michael Prime, Leslie Garcia and the collective Data Garden.

The recent blooming of plant bioacoustics studies and acoustic ecology have inspired artists to sonically explore plant matter combining artistic and scientific points of view. In the midst of a strong movement to revitalize the role of plants in the field of humanities, concerns related to plants ethics and performance with plants are being debated. The sonification and acoustic amplification of plant life evoke both a sense of connection and the realization of an ontological fracture. However, the act of listening to plant life can be an act of acknowledgment, a possibility for emotional identification and empathy, rendering plant life visible.

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Harvard Graduate Music Conference
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