an ongoing initiative for site-specific sound
Pilot project (2017): PLACE by David Dunn, a performance in ten parts for voices, instruments, electronics, bodies, and found materials in an outdoor environment, WORLD PREMIERE performances at Silo City and Artpark
About the initiative:
How can sound art enter into dialogue with a place? How can sound art treat place not as a blank canvas to be gentrified, but instead enter into open-ended conversation with a place’s existing nature-cultures? How can a sound work emerge organically out of the particularities of a place, rather than being parachuted into a location, or approaching a place as only an “exotic,” “edgy” backdrop?
How can focus on the local render audible the lived experiences of specific communities in light of socio-ecological catastrophe? In the face of terrible histories, how can sounding the local facilitate grassroots solidarity rather than fascist exclusion?
How can engagement with place challenge colonialist, anthropocentric aesthetics, expanding what sound art can be? Conversely, how can sound art activate overlooked possibilities within a place, opening up space for the construction of decolonial, multispecies, post-capitalist futures?
These questions inform our approach to presenting and commissioning site-specific sound. Building on past site-specific sound projects, IN PLACE will present a large-scale site-specific sound project each summer. IN PLACE’s first project will feature the overdue world premiere David Dunn’s (nearly eponymous) PLACE, an important but overlooked early site-specific sound work from 1975. The work blurs distinctions between musical and environmental sound, in turn suspending binary oppositions like nature/culture and matter/spirit and opening possibilities for multi-species, post-anthropocentric community. In future years, IN PLACE will commission new works by artists from historically marginalized social groups, examining intersecting antagonisms–environmental destruction, corporate exploitation, racism, colonialism, classism, and more–that overdetermine place in the American rustbelt.