I feel honoured for being awarded with an honorary mention of the NIME 2019’s Pamela Z Award for Innovation, for the paper “INTIMAL: Walking to Find Place, Breathing to Feel Presence” who I wrote together with my co-authors Victor Evaristo González Sánchez and Çagri Erdem, and my artistic work involving migration issues, specifically for helping to “connect women’s voices who are unheard and have suffered from migrating to other countries involuntarily”. In this logic, I thank collaborators such as Mujer Diáspora (Diaspora Women), and her coordinator Helga Flamtermesky, who have collected and provided me with such voices, which have been heard by the INTIMAL community of Colombian Women, as a catharsis, an exercise of collective memory. Also to the INTIMAL community, who has followed me in the work to listen to these voices, and to their own migrations, and to my research assistant Lucia Nikolaia Lopez Bojorquez who supported me in the intense emotional work of annotating technically these voices to be heard by others, in the INTIMAL project.
I received a gift kindly provided by Margaret Schedel: a copy of the book “Artful Design” by Ge Wang.
Pamela Z award in the NIME Conference, was created last year and recognizes a person who is doing significant work that improves the discussion about diversity in NIME either through their research connecting people or through actions such as organisation and awareness.
This year the awardee of the Pamela Z main award is precisely the composer Margaret Schedel, who has contributed to the inclusion of diversity and NIMEs (New Interfaces for Musical Expression), and her co-authored paper “Women’s Labor: Creating NIMEs from Domestic Tools”.
Thanks to the jury of Pamela Z Award 2019:
Isabel Nogueira, Astrid Bin, Anna Weisling, Ana Maria Romano Gomez, Anna Xambó
Honoured for being one of three women Keynote speakers in Sonologia, an International Conference on Sound Studies organised by NUSOM, at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. I had the opportunity to meet Susan Campos Fonseca and Mara Mills, and listen to their research. Impressed with the diversity and quality of all the papers, presentations, panels and performances. Happy to know many experiences such as Sonora community, Lilian Campesato, Tania Mello Neiva, Martina Raponi, the NUSOM Interactive Practice Group, Mene Savasta, Laura Novoa, Camila Juárez, Mario Duarte, the sonorities of Barti Ra and Mariana Carvalho, Orquesta Errante, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, and many many more. Grateful with the organisers and very pleased to see them as an academic creative community working for opening all forms of listening and expressing to find a voice and creating communities in challenging political and social times in Brazil and all over the world. Impressed and grateful, from my heart!
My keynote was in Spanish and here an abstract in Spanish and followed by the English version.
INTIMAL: un espacio de escucha relacional para fluir entre fragmentos de memoria, migración y conflicto
Cuando migramos, experimentamos un cambio radical en nuestra experiencia multisensorial espacial y temporal en el cuerpo (Ahmed, 2000), que influye en la percepción de nosotros mismos y de los demás. Escuchamos de forma sutil y directa cuestiones de género, clase y estigma cultural a través de voces, idiomas y en el entorno acústico circundante; al mismo tiempo, guardamos la memoria de nuestra tierra natal en sonidos, que reflejan o desafían la experiencia en la tierra extranjera. Durante siete años he explorado el espacio intermedio sonoro, con migrantes de todo el mundo, a través de la práctica de la escucha profunda – Deep Listening (Oliveros, 2005) y la improvisación sonora telemática, con palabra hablada y otros sonidos, abriendo espacios para la expresión y conexión entre migrantes y sus narrativas (Alarcón 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017). La escucha profunda envuelve meditaciones, trabajo de sueños y movimiento corporal energético, que nos invitan a disolver las fronteras creadas por identidades fijas que imponen juicios. La mediación tecnológica fortalece las metáforas de migración, ampliando nuestra percepción del tiempo y el espacio, y la posibilidad de establecer diálogos con desconocidos. El trabajo de investigación se convierte en una estrategia artística para unir fragmentos de memorias de lugar, disolver las barreras culturales, permitiendo la expresión de sentimientos de pérdida, y la generación de empatía. En esta charla, hablaré de INTIMAL, un sistema virtual físico “incorporado” para la escucha relacional que integra movimientos del cuerpo, la palabra hablada y la voz, y archivos orales. Investigando las experiencias de escucha de nueve mujeres migrantes colombianas en Londres, Oslo y Barcelona, en el contexto del postconflicto, he integrado métodos de cognición musical del cuerpo (Jensenius, 2018), para observar la expresión plena de sus “viajes migratorios”, y sus reacciones de escucha a archivos orales con testimonios de otras mujeres colombianas sobre experiencias del conflicto. El sistema estimula la escucha relacional, para fluir entre fragmentos de recuerdos de migración y conflicto, en improvisaciones físicas (co-locadas) y telemáticas, alimentando la sensación de lugar, y la sensación de presencia en la distancia, como una práctica acústica y vibracional (Eidsheim, 2015). Las narrativas emergentes abren vías para expandir espacios corporales y acústicos en la vida cotidiana, mejorando su intervención social y abriendo espacios intermedios en la perspectiva dual de Insider/Outsider.
INTIMAL: a space for relational listening to flow in-between fragments of memory, migration and conflict
When in migration, we experience a radical change in our spatial and temporal embodied multisensorial experience (Ahmed, 2000). This influences the perception of ourselves and others, while issues of gender, class, and cultural stigma emerge subtly and directly heard in voices, languages and in the surrounding acoustic environment; in tandem, we keep memories of our native land in our sonic and embodied memories, which mirror or defy the experience in the host land. During seven years I have explored the sonic inbetweeness, with migrants from all over the world, through Deep Listening practice (Oliveros, 2005) and improvisatory sonic telematic performance, with spoken word and other sounds, opening spaces for the expression and connection between migrants and narratives of migration (Alarcón 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017). Deep Listening involves listening meditations, dream awareness and energy body movement, helping us to dissolve borders created by the fixity of cultural identities and judgmental statements. The technological mediation strengthens migration metaphors, expanding our perception of time and space, and the possibility of stablishing dialogues with unknown people. The research work becomes an artistic strategy to join fragments of memories of place, dissolve mental and cultural barriers, allowing feelings such as loss, to be expressed, and to generate empathy. In this talk, I will describe the development of INTIMAL, a physical virtual “embodied” system for relational listening that integrates body movements, spoken word and voice, memories of place, and oral archives. Informed by the listening experiences of nine Colombian migrant women in London, Oslo and Barcelona, in the context of Colombia’s post-conflict, I have integrated methods of Embodied Music Cognition (Jensenius, 2018) to observe the full embodied expression of their “migratory journeys” and the responses of oral archives with testimonies of other Colombian women about experiences in the conflict. The system supports relational listening (English, 2015), as a process to flow between fragments of memories of migration and conflict, in co-located and telematic performances, nourishing at once their sensing of place, and sensingof presence, as acoustic and vibrational practice (Eidsheim, 2015). Women’s emerging narratives open avenues to expand their embodied acoustic spaces in the daily life, improving their agency while actively intervening the Insider/Outsider perspective.
I had the great opportunity to share aspects of the INTIMAL research with migration studies scholars in the frame of Erratic bodies, transitional borders, and recent migration in Europe: Representation and identity negotiations in public discourse, literature and the arts workshop organised by Nelson González-Ortega, Ljiljana Saric, Álvaro Llosa Sanz, Johan Schimanski from the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages (ILOS), at the University of Oslo. It was very nourishing sharing with scholars from all over the world, different aspects regarding representation of migrants, from graffiti to literature and film. My paper called “Intimal: Migrant Women’s Sonic Statements of Presence” contributed from the mediated performance art perspective, in a platform where Colombian migrant women present themselves, stating “presence”. The writing of the presentation invited me to explore migration literature in the area of gender, emotions and identities, as well as feelings regarding absence and presence.
I presented INTIMAL at Musikkteknologidagene 2017 at the Norwegian Academy of Music. It was a good space to share my initial thoughts about the system. I am focusing on voice and language and an important question with some oral archives is how the body listens to painful experiences and to good experiences too, particularly where the body is mentioned within the narrative, and how INTIMAL, a system placed between the psychological and body listening, and the technological mediation, using voice, could open spaces for transformation of individual and shared memories of loss (because of conflict and because of migration). This is a moment for many questions, also including “how the body moves when listening to its own voice and in different languages”, “how walking makes sense of place, in a new physical foreign space”, and how in this manner body meets the different parts of the system. Questions of interactivity are about entrainment in physical and virtual spaces, looking for a historical body that might be perceived as fragmented.