What are the settings in which speech and sound can be heard and have a meaningful effect? How has our ability to listen changed with the development of new technologies for synthesizing, transmitting, capturing, and quantifying expressions? Instead of valorizing the assertion of individuality through speech (which now is so likely to be mediated, mined, and commodified), how can we listen in ways that make us more receptive to one another and ensure that a plurality of voices can be heard? When and why might we reject this ideal and refuse to make ourselves available or open to others (or to the systems that feed on our expressions)?
Triple Canopy addresses these questions in Omniaudience, which emerges from the magazine’s 2018–19 Public Engagement residency at the Hammer Museum and is organized with the Los Angeles–based artist Nikita Gale. Omniaudience refers to the faculty of hearing and comprehending everything, but might also name a congregation of listeners who possess, or strive to attain, this faculty. The first installment of Omniaudience is a progression of invitational listening sessions, presentations, and discussions at the Hammer Museum and elsewhere in Los Angeles, with contributions by Geeta Dayal, Gary Dauphin, Nina Sun Eidsheim, Daniela Gesundheit and Sarah Kessler, David Horvitz, Jasmine Nyende, and Karen Tongson.
I Don’t Like You, but I Love You: On the Afterlife of Michael Jackson
With Gary Dauphin
December 12, 7 p.m.
Kristina Kite Gallery
3400 W. Washington Blvd.
Dauphin will facilitate a listening session and conversation that addresses the ceaseless circulation of Michael Jackson’s voice, body, and labor. The event will be hosted by Kristina Kite Gallery, where an exhibition by Nicole Miller, featuring a sculpture derived from a mold of Jackson’s body, will be on view.
Cover Me: Karaoke and Imitation
With Karen Tongson
December 12, 9 p.m.
Pharaoh Karaoke Lounge 3680 Wilshire Blvd.
Tongson, a scholar and aficionado of karaoke, will host and introduce a karaoke session. She’ll draw on her book in progress, Empty Orchestra: Karaoke in Our Time, which explores the relationship between karaoke and the ways in which we perform and judge repetition and mimicry.
When the Ocean Sounds
With David Horvitz
Saturday, December 15, 5 p.m.
1206 Maple Avenue, #1030
Horvitz will orchestrate a performance in which vocalists—anyone present who wishes to sing—utilize a set of fifty-one scores that transcribe the sounds of waves breaking on a cliff in Palos Verdes, California, accompanied by instructions that evoke the compositions and listening practice of Pauline Oliveros.
Omniaudience at the Hammer Museum
With Daniela Gesundheit and Sarah Kessler, Geeta Dayal, Nikita Gale and Jasmine Nyende, and Nina Sun Eidsheim
Sunday, December 16, 1–5 p.m.
This afternoon-long program will focus on how we are conditioned and how we might condition ourselves to listen—to which phenomena, to whom, to what ends. After an introduction by by Alexander Provan and Nikita Gale, Daniela Gesundheit and Sarah Kessler will speak about listening through the lens of acoustic biology, focusing on the work of Katy Payne, the preeminent scholar of whale songs, which were first recorded by hydrophone in the 1960s. They’ll play excerpts from Songs of the Humpback Whale (1970), produced by Payne’s husband, and discuss the relationship between prevailing technologies of capture (whether applied to whale songs or human expressions) and cross-species relationships and environmental stewardship. Geeta Dayal will present a history—and speculate on the future—of recording technologies, including real and fictional examples from Muzak to Alexa to the manipulative background music in Decoder (1984). She’ll ask how machines, including today’s always-on devices and streaming services, listen to us (and to signals that are not produced by or discernible to humans) and how we listen to and through them. Nikita Gale and Jasmine Nyende will lead a conversation about the relationship between singing and engineering, studio technicians and the representation of performers, and amplification and silence. Nina Sun Eidsheim will facilitate a listening session that will draw on singers (e.g., Billie Holiday) discussed in her new book, The Race of Sound, which addresses “how listeners measure race through sound and locate racial subjectivities in vocal timbre,” and how we might cultivate “a form of listening that would allow us to hear singers in a self-reflexive, denaturalized way.” Then she’ll interview participants about what they’ve heard in order to explore how we’re acculturated through listening: how we form relationships to specific sound objects and how we’re trained to hear particular aspects of sound and not others.
Triple Canopy’s focus on listening—or hearing with intent—is tied to a long-standing concern with the modes of distracted viewing and reading that proliferate online, and that characterize the attention economy. The magazine’s residency at the Hammer Museum is a cornerstone of Two Ears and One Mouth, a forthcoming issue that addresses how we speak and listen and who has the right and capacity to be heard. (The other is “Parts of Speech,” an exhibition on public speech, organized with Public Fiction and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, that hinges on a series of experimental lectures.)
- Geeta Dayal is an arts critic and journalist specializing in twentieth-century music, culture, and technology. She is the author of Another Green World, a book on Brian Eno (Bloomsbury, 2009), and is currently at work on a book on music.
- Gary Dauphin is a Los Angeles–based writer and editor whose work has appeared in Artforum, Bidoun, Essence, Interview, Lacanian Ink, TheRoot.com, Vibe, and the Village Voice, among other publications.
- Nina Sun Eidsheim is a professor of musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She’s the author of Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice and The Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music, to be published by Duke University Press in early 2019.
- Nikita Gale is an artist who lives in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in new genres at University of California, Los Angeles, in 2016. By engaging with materials that have properties that are simultaneously acoustic and protective, she examines the ways in which silence and noise function as political positions and conditions. Her work has recently been exhibited at Commonwealth and Council (Los Angeles); CUE Art Foundation (New York); Martos Gallery (New York); and in “Made in L.A.” at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles).
- Daniela Gesundheit is a singer, songwriter, musician, composer, lyricist, and cantor living between Los Angeles and Toronto. She currently plays in the band Snowblink, a duo with Dan Goldman.
- David Horvitz is a half-Japanese Californian artist who was born in Los Angeles. He has recently had solo exhibitions at Chert, Berlin; Yvon Lambert Librarie, Paris; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; the New Museum, New York; Jan Mot, Brussels; Dawid Radziszewski Gallery, Warsaw; Statements, Art Basel; and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen.
- Sarah Kessler is a media scholar and television critic who teaches in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her book project, Anachronism Effects, focuses on the cultural politics of voice and ventriloquism in transatlantic popular culture.
- Jasmine Nyende is a new media and performance artist from South Central Los Angeles. She is the lead vocalist for the black femme punk band FUPU!, and her art practice spans poetry, textiles, sculpture, and performance.
- Karen Tongson is the author of Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (NYU Press, 2011) and a professor of English, gender studies and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She has a forthcoming book from ForEdge Press called Why Karen Carpenter Matters, and two other books in progress: Normal Television: Critical Essays on Queer Spectatorship after the “New Normalcy,” and Empty Orchestra: Karaoke in Our Time.