by Kate Donovan
Listening Session I: Nomadic Listening
with Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
A live listening session and reading from the book The Nomadic Listener introduces an augmented book on migration, contemporary urban experience, and sonic alienation. The work critically engages with the idea of sensing the city through a mode of poetic and contemplative listening. The book is composed of a series of texts stemming from psychogeographic explorations of major contemporary cities, such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Brussels, Leipzig, The Hague, Graz, London, Kolkata, Vienna, Delhi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Amsterdam, New York, Paris, and others, through situated writing and field recording. Each text is an act of contemplative listening, where the artist/author records his surrounding environment and attempts to attune to the sonic fluctuations of movement and the passing of events. Each corresponding sound attempts to trace these nomadic interactions in unedited field recording. What surfaces is a collection of meditations on the minutiae of life movingly interwoven with the author’s own memories, associations, desires and reflections. The listening session and reading from the book are entwined to augment urban sensing and sonic experience that draw up a tender map of contemporary cities, and the often lonely, surprising, and random interactions found in urban navigation and place-making.
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay is a media artist, researcher, and writer. Incorporating diverse media, such as sound, text, and moving image, Chattopadhyay produces works for large-scale installation and live performance addressing contemporary issues of climate crisis, human intervention in the environment and ecology, urbanity, migration, race, and decolonization. Chattopadhyay holds a PhD in artistic research from the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, The Netherlands, an MA in new media from Aarhus University, Denmark, and a Diploma in cinema from SRFTI, India; he has recently completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship. Chattopadhyay has received numerous fellowships, residencies and international awards. His works have been widely exhibited, performed or presented across the globe, and published by Gruenrekorder (Germany) and Touch (UK). His writings on sound regularly appear on peer-reviewed journals, magazines, and other publications internationally; Chattopadhyay authored three books: The Nomadic Listener (2020), The Auditory Setting (2021) and Between the Headphones (2021).
Listening Session II: Parasites
with Janna Holmstedt
This is not for you to see, this is for you to bear and to hold – as a leaky vessel, permeable, embraced by a sonic skin that both receives and transmits. Can we do this? Can we for a moment share space and participate through this mediated and delayed presence made available to us through technological extensions and fleshy bodies? In its most radical sense, hospitality involves giving oneself over to a stranger. I am a parasite. We are para-sites.
The prefix para- expresses the condition of existing alongside. This unavoidable distance sets a series of differences in motion. In language, as in storytelling, we are always on the side, wrestling with the differences and the parasitic relations generated by this condition. I embrace the parasite as a way to resist illusionary oneness, acknowledge power relations, yet remain open to the possibility of being with, being relation.
Michele Serres points us, in his book The Parasite (2007), to three different kinds of parasites: the biological parasites, living organisms that physically attach themselves to and feed off their host. Then, there are social parasites who provide entertainment in order to be welcomed as a guest at the table, as in the well-known figure of the travelling storyteller. Lastly, there are the technological parasites. It is both striking and telling that the French word for noise, or static, is the same as the word for parasite. In the information network it is not always clear who is the parasite and who is the host. My data might be your noise. Your message might disturb my signal. Now, think of “me” and “you” in more-than-human terms, and vast tangled networks of technological and ecological relations unfolds.
What I can offer is a parasite, or a network of parasitic relations. Para- is on the side, it is not on the thing, it is relation. The voice is a parasite too, the bodiless voice brought to you in this session is in desperate need of bodies to host it. Thank you for inviting me in.
Janna Holmstedt, PhD, is an artist and environmental humanities researcher, working in a feminist posthumanities vein of critical and creative inquiry. She investigates listening as a situated practice, the cultivation of care and environmental attention, and composition in the expanded field of genre-disobedient art practices. Her work includes sound-based installations, participatory performances, mixed media walks, storytelling, mappings, writing, growing, and collaborative projects. She is a key member of the research group The Posthumanities Hub, initiator of the art- and research project Humus economicus at National Historical Museums in Sweden, and co-founder of the collective (P)Art of the Biomass, with artist Malin Lobell. They are currently showing the work Four Sisters for Planthroposcene at Malmö Art Museum, Sweden, as part of the exhibition Sustainable Societies for the Future. Her most recent publications include Follow the Blind, Mimic the Wind, Become a Worm: Sonospheric Mappings by a Bag-Lady Soundwalker, Unlikely Journal for Creative Arts (2021) 7, and Interspecies Bodies and Watery Sonospheres: Listening in the Lab, the Archives and the Field, Leonardo Music Journal (2020) 30: 95–98.