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 and second installments of Omniaudience occurred, respectively, in December 2018 and May 2019; the third installment is a progression of listening sessions, presentations, performances, and discussions at the Hammer Museum, with contributions by Michael Davidson, Arshia Haq, Nour Mobarak, Alison O’Daniel, and Alice Wang. (The final installment of Omniaudience at the Hammer will take place in the fall; Triple Canopy will continue to organize related events in New York City and elsewhere.)
Side Three, Track One
With Michael Davidson, Alison O’Daniel, and Nour Mobarak
Wednesday, June 19, 7:30–9 p.m.
Alison O’Daniel will screen Sound Speeding (2019), a film composed of interstitial shots from her ongoing feature The Tuba Thieves (2013–present), which tells intersecting stories about the sonic realm, especially as experienced and imagined by those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Originally presented as a four-channel installation, Sound Speeding is titled after the phrase used by the boom operator on a set, when a scene is about to be shot, to announce that audio is being recorded. O’Daniel will also show footage from Skaters’ Score (2019), in which deaf skateboarders and four Los Angeles-based musicians perform a site-specific musical composition that integrates the sonic vocabulary of skateboarding and emphasizes the tactile, visual, and spatial aspects of music. She’ll be joined in conversation by the poet and scholar Michael Davidson.
Nour Mobarak will perform Allophone Movement III, which consists of a multichannel composition and live vocalization, in the Hammer’s Annenberg Terrace. Mobarak created the composition with recordings of utterances from a couple dozen languages by the UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive; during the performance, she navigates the sound field, mimics and conjoins phonemes in song and speech, and turns components of language into indeterminate sonic materials. (Note that this performance was previously scheduled for the second installment of Omniaudience, which, instead, included a presentation by and conversation with Mobarak.)
Side Three, Track Two
With Arshia Haq and Alice Wang
Tuesday, June 25, 7:30–9 p.m.
Alice Wang will present If We Had Radio Antennas for Ears, a listening session that employs sounds captured from outer space to construct a sense of being that has as much to do with cosmic gas and dust particles as with humanity. The work involves a soundscape created from NASA’s archive of recordings of pulsars, quasars, satellites, the moon, the sun, and other celestial bodies. Listening to phenomena that previously existed only as abstractions or vague impressions, Wang asks how we perceive and understand our relationship to distant and seemingly unfathomable forces—even as we come to realize how we act on them and they act on us.
Arshia Haq will conduct a listening session that explores Sufi devotional music and the concept of sama’: a spiritual atmosphere established through the relationship between performer and audience, a state of ecstasy or absorption that can transform consciousness. Haq will play recordings that she and others have made of such performances; read passages from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s The Mysticism of Sound and Music (1923); and speak about her own experiences of listening at shrines and in clubs—as well as the complexities of documenting those untranslatable experiences. She’ll propose that sama’ be understood metaphorically, as a liminal sonic space that encourages transcendence and that might manifest in (or between) formalized rituals and more inclusive, fluid spaces.
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.)
- Nour Mobarak is an artist working in text, performance, sound sculpture, and voice. She’s interested in the rational structures that are created to safeguard the irrationalities of each individual. Her work investigates the stifled compulsions and violent or desirous impulses of people and nation-states. She has performed internationally in clubs, bars, and institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, Hauser and Wirth, and Cambridge University, and has published work in F. R. David, the Claudius App, and the Salzburg Review, among others.
- Alison O’Daniel is an artist who lives in Los Angeles. She combines film, performance, sculpture, and installation as a call-and-response between mediums. She collaborates with hearing, Deaf, and hard-of-hearing composers, performers, athletes, and musicians in order to highlight the loss or re-creation of information as it passes through various channels, and to build a visual, aural, and haptic vocabulary for story-telling. O’Daniel has presented solo exhibitions at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, Nebraska), Art in General (New York), Samuel Freeman Gallery and Shulamit Nazarian Gallery (Los Angeles), and Centre d’Art Contemporain Passerelle (Brest, France). Her work was featured in “Made in LA” at the Hammer Museum and at “Infinite Ear” at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow) in 2018. She has received grants from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, Art Matters, Franklin Furnace Fund, and the California Community Foundation.
- Alice Wang is an artist who makes sculptures and experimental films and lives in Los Angeles and Shanghai. Her work explores the uncanny dimensions of the natural world. She has recently presented work at Capsule Shanghai, Visitor Welcome Center (Los Angeles), K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong), FLAX Foundation (Los Angeles), Taikang Space (Beijing), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Wang is an assistant professor of arts at New York University Shanghai and co-organizes the Magic Hour.
- Arshia Fatima Haq was born in Hyderabad, India, and is based in Los Angeles. She works in film, visual art, performance, and sound. She is currently exploring themes of embodiment and mysticism, particularly within the context of Sufism. She is the founder of Discostan, a collaborative decolonial project working with cultural production from South and West Asia and North Africa. Haq’s work has been presented at Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art (Houston), the Broad Museum (Los Angeles), the Toronto International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), LAXART (Los Angeles), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), and the Pacific Film Archive. She hosts and produces monthly radio shows on Dublab and NTS and recently released an album of field recordings from Pakistan on the label Sublime Frequencies. She is the recipient of the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship and the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant.
- Michael Davidson is a poet and professor emeritus of literature at the University of California, San Diego. He has written numerous books of poetry, the most recent of which is Bleed Through: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2013). His works of criticism include Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics (University of Chicago Press, 2003), Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body (University of Michigan Press, 2008), and, most recently, Invalid Modernism: Disability and the Missing Body of the Aesthetic (Oxford University Press, 2019) .