Sonic Worlds

The Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities presents “Sonic Worlds,” a year of programming exploring diverse sound, musical, and listening practices as they figure in our everyday lives and in various fields of study, including anthropology, disability studies, music, literary studies, Indigenous studies, computer science, and more.

Among the questions the series will ask:

What roles does sound play in building our environments, our sense of ourselves and our communities? Do we all hear and listen to the world the same way? How do our histories, identities, cultures, subcultures, and relationship to (dis)ability affect the role sound plays in our worlds? Which sounds get counted as music, which as noise, and why? How have various composers, musicians, and sound artists challenged this distinction? What role can active listening play in aiding our negotiation of an increasingly technologically-dependent culture? What constitutes “good listening” as a musical, ethical, and everyday practice? What role does listening play in democratic processes of justice, particularly restorative justice? If we pay better attention to sound and music, can we pay better attention to other people?


Ongoing Programs

VCAMbient

Entering its third year, VCAMbient is an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to fill the cavernous space of VCAM with their favorite sounds–at a volume that permits the ongoing business of teaching, learning, and working in the building.

  Wednesdays
  Noon
  VCAM Lounge

Make a playlist, or better yet, bring an instrument, start playing/streaming, and see what happens. Previous sessions have focused on femininity and introspection in Rap, the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto, R&B from the 70s to the present, and sci-fi film soundtracks, among many other genres, and generated contemplation and conversation in the VCAM Lounge.

Timing is flexible based on your schedule. Contact HCAH & VCAM Associate Director jweissin [at] haverford.edu (James Weissinger) to sign up for your VCAMbient set!


Sonic Worlds Listening & Reading Group

Organized by Gustavus Stadler and Shana Cohen-Mungan '24

Do you sometimes find yourself getting enveloped in, and transfixed by, sound–whether music, street noise, babbling brooks, or what have you? Do you love to hear, listen to, and think about sound? Are you interested in joining a communal reading and listening group, in which we discuss brief texts about sound while (or before/after) listening to recordings curated by fellow members? Then we have just the group for you! The Sonic Worlds Listening & Reading Group is a group of students, staff, and faculty that will meet approximately once a month this year to explore the issues discussed in the Sonic Worlds series, and whatever other concerns attendees are hearing in their worlds. Let’s listen together!

Contact HCAH Director Gustavus Stadler (gstadler [at] haverford.edu) to get involved.


Events

Deconstructing Bad Bunny

Where does today’s reggaetón come from?

Organized by Lyali Pereda Figueroa ’26. Mentored by Hasta ‘Bajo Project

  Artist Talk
  Friday, September 15
  1:30 p.m.
  VCAM Exhibition Wall

  VCAMbient with Lyali
  Wednesday, September 27
  12:00 p.m.
  VCAM Lounge

  “PERREO” dance class hosted by Haveritmo
  Thursday, September 28
  4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
  VCAM Lounge

 

Lyali Pereda Figueroa ’26 spent the summer working with Hasta ‘Bajo Project, a non-profit organization based in Puerto Rico dedicated to creating a historical archive of reggaetón. As part of the fellowship, she now presents the VCAM exhibition Deconstructing Bad Bunny, exploring the origins of the genre through laser-cut images of iconic reggaetón artists, as well as a special VCAMbient DJ set and dance class hosted by Haveritmo. Supported by the Hurford Center’s new Summer Creative Fellowship, SONIC WORLDS, and VCAM’s Malcolm Baldwin 1962 Fund.

Lyali Pereda Figueroa '26 is a prospective Comparative Literature/Spanish double major with a minor in Education and the Latinx concentration. She was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which has inspired her work in her first exhibition: Deconstructing Bad Bunny. She loves every kind of art and always tries to intermingle them in her projects.


Fire Museum Presents: Erik Ruin’s Ominous Cloud Ensemble & Bill Hsu/Christopher Burns/Noa Even/Thomas Kraines

Erik Ruin’s Ominous Cloud Ensemble is an ever-evolving, collectively-improvising large ensemble for projections and music, led by visual artist Erik Ruin, recently lauded by the New York Times for his “spell-binding cut-paper animations.” Members of the ensemble include a rotating cast of Philly’s finest musicians, who have collaborated with everyone from Anthony Braxton to the Sun Ra Arkestra to Bardo Pond.

  Friday, September 22, 2023
  7:30 p.m.
  Studio 34
  4522 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia

Bill Hsu (San Francisco) and Christopher Burns (Philadelphia) have been making electronic audiovisual performances together for more than a decade. For this evening’s performance, they are joined onstage by Philly improvisers Noa Even (saxophones) and Thomas Kraines (cello). Expect restless exploration of sounds and textures from the outer reaches of electronic and instrumental technique, woven by the quartet into an organic conversation.

Organized by Matt O’Hare, Visiting Assistant Professor of Visual Studies and Digital Media Fellow. Supported by the Haverford College Philadelphia Engagement Grant.

Learn more about Fire Museum Presents: Erik Ruin’s Ominous Cloud Ensemble & Bill Hsu/Christopher Burns/Noa Even/Thomas Kraines


Sonic Worlds Student Meet-Up

An open session for students and student organizations interested in sound, music, and listening within and beyond the curriculum to meet, chat, and dream about all things sound-related over pizza.

  Wednesday, September 27, 2023
  7:00 p.m.
 VCAM Presentation Lounge

  Dinner and snacks provided!

Majors, club heads, bedroom producers–we wanna hear what you’re up to! Learn about different campus resources geared toward sound and share your ideas for the coming year.

Co-sponsored by FUCS and WHRC Radio.

 Caitlin Denis.


Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer

Screening & Conversation

Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer: 2022, 88 min, directed by Robert Fantinatto. Zoom conversation to follow screening with filmmaker Robert Fantinatto and faculty Matt O’Hare.

  Tuesday, October 10, 2023
 7:00 p.m.
  VCAM Screening Room

Subotnick explores the life of electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick. At 90 years of age, he has become a cult figure for a broad spectrum of composers and producers spanning the avant-garde to techno. Featuring live performances captured in surround sound and augmented with innovative liquid-light psychedelic effects, Subotnick is a multimedia experience that highlights and celebrates one of the world’s most influential living composers.

Directed by Robert Fantinatto
2022, 88min

Organized by Visiting Assistant Professor of Visual Studies and Digital Media Fellow Matt O’Hare. Sponsored by the VCAM Media & Makers Initiative.

Learn more about Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer


Resounding Disappointments

Talk by Sara Marcus

  Thursday, October 26, 2023
  4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
  VCAM 102

The history of the 20th century in the United States is a history of political disappointment—that is, of desires for a better political life that outlast the time when they might have been fulfilled. This talk traces disappointment's persistent manifestations through five key sonic scenes. Tuning to the Reconstruction-era transcriptions of songs composed in slavery (and W.E.B. Du Bois's inclusion of them in The Souls of Black Folk), the cough-ridden singing of an elderly utopian in a midcentury novella by Tillie Olsen, and a tape-recorded duet between Tracy Chapman and the queer visual artist David Wojnarowicz, among other scenes, it investigates the concerted listening and transcription practices that helped artists, writers, and activists throughout the last century make meaning out of America's ongoing disappointments.

How to Listen to History

Sonic Worlds Listening and Reading Group Workshop with Sara Marcus

  Thursday, October 26, 2023
 7:30 p.m.
  VCAM 102

This participatory listening workshop takes its cues from the Black feminist singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock, from the queer artist David Wojnarowicz's 1989 tape-recorded collaboration with Tracy Chapman, and from these artists' invitations to listen for one's ancestors. Attending closely to these examples and others, we will explore how expansively attentive listening practices might reframe difficult histories of political disappointment. Participants are encouraged to bring a way of playing—whether live or on recording—a song that has particular meaning for them.

Sara Marcus is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where she is affiliated with the gender studies program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience. Marcus is the author of Political Disappointment: A Cultural History from Reconstruction to the AIDS Crisis (2023, Belknap/Harvard University Press) and the punk-feminist history Girls to the Front (2010). Marcus’s writing has appeared in American Literary History, American Literature, Artforum, Bookforum, Dissent, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, Public Books, and elsewhere.

Supported by the Distinguished Visitors Program.


Seeing Sound: Curator Talk with Barbara London and Opening Reception

On View: October 27 - December 16, 2023

  Friday, October 27, 2023
  4:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
  WCC, Second Floor

Seeing Sound is an expansive exhibition that explores the current trajectory of sound as a dynamic branch of contemporary art practice, curated by Barbara London. The exhibition features seven artists based around the world—Seth Cluett, Juan Cortés, Auriea Harvey, Bani Haykal, Yuko Mohri, Aura Satz, and Samson Young. For Seeing Sound, the artworks take shape as kinetic sculpture, audio-video installation, and visitor-responsive technologies. With headphones notably absent, the exhibition consists of complex environmental sonic experiences, where each artwork simultaneously allows for multiple modes of communal listening.

Visit the exhibition website at exhibits.haverford.edu/seeingsound.

Photo by Jeff Warrin.

Aura Satz, Dial Tone Drone (2014), Seeing Sound at KADIST San Francisco, June 9 to July 24,2021.

Seeing Sound is a traveling exhibition curated by Barbara London, with the support ofResearch Assistant Kristen Clevenson and produced by Independent Curators International(ICI). This exhibition and tour are supported, in part, by Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) program and with the generous support of ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum. Crozier Fine Arts is the Preferred Art Logistics Partner.

For more information, visit ICI’s website.


Is There God after Prince? Dispatches from an Age of Last Things

Talk by Peter Coviello

  Monday, October 30, 2023
  4:30 p.m.
  VCAM 102

Is There God After Prince? is a book about loving things (books, songs, people) in the shadow of a felt, looming disaster – in the grain of what author Peter Coviello calls an endstrickenness that every twenty-first-century day has made harder and harder to ignore. In essays that survey pieces of culture across a clamoring and expansive range – from novels and poems to shows like The Sopranos, movies like The Shining, and songs from the much-mourned saint of Minneapolis – Coviello asks what it can mean to love such trifling and beautiful things, even now, in the midst of worlds so glutted with planet-sized calamity Moving, mordant, sparking with caustic intelligence and an unsurrendered joyousness, Is There God After Prince? shows us what criticism can do – how it yet might speak to us – in a time of ruin and collapse, an age of Last Things.

Peter Coviello is Department Head and Professor of English, University of Illinois Chicago.

Supported by the Haverford Department of English Weaver Fund.


Fire Museum Presents: Neti-Neti and Chaka Benson

  Thursday, November 16, 2023
  8:00 p.m.
  Maas Building
  1325 N Randolph St, Philadelphia

Neti-Neti is the lo-fi ritual music duo of Matt Evans (drums/electronics) and Amirtha Kidambi (vocals/electronics) that formed amidst their mutual experiences surrounding grief after the death of loved ones. Chaka Benson is well-known around the Philly Space Music scene. The sound is ever-evolving and changing over time, layered, a challenge to pin down and always rewarded! Each performance has a new patch specially prepared for it and a new improvised set is performed each time.

Learn more about Fire Museum Presents: Neti-Neti + The Early


Sonic Worlds Listening & Reading Group: Experiments in the Listening Session

Organized by Shana Cohen-Mungan ’24 & Gustavus Stadler

  Wednesday, December 6, 2023
  4:30 p.m.
  VCAM 102

What emerges when you listen with others? This collective listening workshop turns to the “listening sesh” as a site of experiment. Participants will break into pairs or threes and, starting with “Green and Gold” by Lianne La Havas, go song for song on an improvised path. Then, we’ll reconvene and share what we find.


Fire Museum Presents: A Page of Madness (Kinugasa Teinosuke, 1926) with Totally Automatic & Matt O’Hare

  Friday, December 8, 2023
 8:00 p.m.
  2223 Fish
  2223 E Dauphin St, Philadelphia

A Page of Madness (狂った一頁, Kurutta Ichipeiji) is a 1926 Japanese silent film directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa. Lost for 45 years until it was rediscovered by Kinugasa in his storehouse in 1971, the film is the product of an avant-garde group of artists in Japan known as the Shinkankakuha (or School of New Perceptions) who tried to overcome naturalistic representation.

With its rapid, non-linear cuts and terrifying imagery, A Page of Madness is widely regarded as a kinetic masterwork of early 20th century Japanese cinema. Accompanied by Totally Automatic, composer Matt O'Hare sonically leverages the beautiful and chaotic expressionism of Madness by utilizing visual analysis of the film to drive audible changes in a modular synthesizer, promising a raw and visceral take on a seminal horror classic.

Totally Automatic:

Totally Automatic was formed by Anne Ishii, Eugene Lew and Matthew Smith Lee in the summer of 2021. They play unarranged music with each other, on drums, saxophone and electronics, and can be found around Philadelphia.

Matt O'Hare:

Matt O’Hare is a multidisciplinary artist and educator whose projects typically engage computer music, video art, and devised theatre. He currently teaches at Haverford College where he founded the Studio for Electronic Art, an educational space where modular synthesis and sound art bridge the humanities with computer science.

Simwhet Onham:

Simwhet Onham explores the energy and effects of sound, from resonance and psychoacoustic effects to the transduction of sound as movement and light. Recent projects find him repurposing obsolete consumer technology in kinetic performances and installations, notably "Made to Malfunction" and "Successive Actions".

Learn more about Fire Museum Presents: A Page of Madness


Emeka Ogboh: Ojuelegba

On View: January 26-March 8, 2024

  VCAMbient DJ Set with Emeka Ogboh
  Wednesday, January 24, 2024
 12:00 p.m.
  VCAM Lounge

  Artist Talk & Opening Reception
  Friday, January 26, 2024
 4:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
  Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
  WCC, Second Floor

 Emeka Ogboh, Ojuelegba, 2023. © Emeka Ogboh

Ojuelegba is a new multisensory installation from renowned Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh. Inspired by the district Ojuelegba in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria, Ogboh’s installation envisions an immersive experience where sight and sound entwine. Visual elements drawn from random selections of Ojuelegba’s environment synchronize with the rhythmic cadences of Ogboh’s album 6°30′33.372″N 3°22′0.66″E, an auditory portrait woven from the fabric of daily life in the district. The result is an ever-changing and dynamic installation wherein each interaction is a unique experience, resonating with the ever-evolving nature of Ojuelegba itself.

Visit the exhibition website

 Oliver Mark

Emeka Ogboh's art practice is deeply rooted in engaging with places through a multisensory approach, encompassing sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. His installations and culinary projects are collages of sensory elements, aimed at exploring the translation, transformation, and encoding of private, public, and collective memories and histories into diverse sensorial experiences. Ogboh’s work delves into the realm of sensory perception, capturing our connection to the world, shaping our understanding of reality, and providing a platform to address critical issues such as migration, globalization, and post-colonialism. Recently, he has ventured into the world of music, debuting with the album Beyond the Yellow Haze on the Ostgut Ton sub-label A-TON in 2021. He continued this musical journey with his second album, 6°30′33.372″N 3°22′0.66″E, released under his self-founded label, Danfotronics in 2022.

Learn more


Fire Museum Presents: Kaethe Hostetter's Impressions of Ethiopia: for solo violin and electronics with Flux Bros and Ray Toy

  Friday, March 1, 2024
 7:30 p.m.
  Studio 34
  4522 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143

Kaethe Hostetter's Impressions of Ethiopia: for solo violin and electronics:

This is a collection of musical vignettes by American violinist and composer Kaethe Hostetter of Ethiopian group QWANQWA. Sourcing from her 11 years living in Addis Ababa, she transports you to the bustling streets of the East African metropolis, evoking the crackling sounds of a saxophone blaring out of a barbershop radio, a shepherd's flute melody turned dub reggae, the fervent dancing on packed dirt floors of a rural honey-wine bar, and the funky big band psychedelic sounds of Ethiopia's "Golden Era".

Flux Bros:

Flux Bros are the antidote to poisonous artifacts. The flux brothers DESTROY ALL art. Eternal is the flux force. It expels flux. It broils fervently. It jumps willy-nilly. Art isn't ready to accept its own detritus, so we leap into the repertoire again. This performance will last 35 minutes and features Fluxus scores from the 1960s alongside our original works.
–Brothers Flux

Ray Toy:

Ray Toy (also known as Ive Yos, Iva Yos, Ray Yalisove, and Rachel Yalisove) is a writer and artist who debuted their first published novel, “Creep Sex” at Spoonbill & Sugartown Books in New York, NY. The book reflects Ray Toy’s comedic voice that first came to light in a series of funny art performances at The Cavendish Arms and The Fox & Firkin in London, UK and Good Good Comedy Theatre, Philadelphia in 2019. Toy currently performs regularly at various venues around Philadelphia including Headlong Dance Theater and Plays & Players Theatre. They have also written and produced video art in collaboration with filmmaker and actress, Amy Frear. In 2020, the duo was featured in a curated video art exhibition at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Toy has given artist talks at the ICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). Ray will be reading from their new book Love Rain.

Co-organized by Visual Studies and English faculty Matt O'Hare with support from the Tri-Co Philly Program.

Learn more about Fire Museum Presents: Kaethe Hostetter's Impressions of Ethiopia: for solo violin and electronics with Flux Bros and Ray Toy


Strange Truth: 32 Sounds

  Wednesday, March 27, 2024
  8:00 p.m.
  Bryn Mawr Film Institute

An immersive documentary and profound sensory experience from filmmaker Sam Green that explores the elemental phenomenon of sound. The film is a meditation on the power of sound to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us.

 Free History Project.

Directed by Sam Green
2022, 1h 35min

Live Narration by Sam Green. This version plays in regular movie theaters, but each member of the audience is given their own set of headphones for a special immersive binaural audio experience.

Discussion with director Sam Green and Haverford faculty John Muse to follow.

Open to the public. Free for all Tri-Co students, staff, and faculty. Members of the Tri-Co community who wish to reserve their tickets in advance should contact jweissin [at] haverford.edu for this year’s promo-code. Walk-up attendees can show a Tri-Co school ID at the box office to get a free ticket. All others: reserve your ticket via the BMFI website.

Supported by the Hillmann Moving Images Endowed Fund and CRAFT.

Learn more

 Kat Galasso.

Sam Green is a New York-based documentary filmmaker. Green’s most recent live documentaries include A Thousand Thoughts (with the Kronos Quartet) (2018), The Measure of All Things (2014), The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller (with Yo La Tengo) (2012), and Utopia in Four Movements (2010). With all of these works, Green narrates the film in-person while musicians perform a live soundtrack. Green’s 2004 feature-length film, The Weather Underground, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for an Academy Award, was included in the Whitney Biennial, and has screened widely around the world.


Strange Truth: The Tuba Thieves

  Wednesday, April 3, 2024
  7:00 p.m.
  Bryn Mawr Film Institute

From 2011 to 2013, tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. This is not a story about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen.

 Cinematography by Derek Howard, Meena Singh, Judy Phu.

Written and directed by Alison O’Daniel
2023, 91min
American Sign Language, English, & Spanish

Discussion with writer and director Alison O’Daniel in conversation with Warren “Wawa” Snipe to follow, moderated by Kristin Lindgren, Director of College Writing Center and Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing, Haverford College.

Alison, a white woman with brown bangs and long mullety hair (proudly cut so that her ears and hearing aids are visible) stands with her arms crossed and has a slight smile. She wears bright red, blue and brown clothes and stands in front of a bright blue painted wall.

 Caitlin Denis.

Alison O'Daniel is a filmmaker and visual artist. She has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; Art in General, New York; Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France; Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia. O’Daniel is a United States Artist 2022 Disability Futures Fellow and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow and has received grants from Ford Foundation; Sundance; Creative Capital; Field of Vision; ITVS; Chicken & Egg; SFFILM; Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation; Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation. She has attended residencies at the Wexner Center Film/Video Studio Program; Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown; and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing on O’Daniel’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Artforum; Los Angeles Times; BOMB; ArtReview. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

 Roy Cox Studios

Warren “Wawa” Snipe, an acclaimed Hip Hop recording artist hailing from the DC/MD/VA area, has been making music with an insatiable drive since he first picked up the mic in 2005. His charismatic and diligent persona and genre, "Dip Hop" (Hip Hop through deaf eyes), has garnered critical reception and positive acclaim over the past 15+ years. This unique sound of audio and imagery has helped WAWA develop a growing fanbase and has landed him many opportunities on stage, in the studio, and within the music industry.


Music and Technological Disobedience: Talk by Simon Hutchinson

  Thursday, April 25th, 2024
 4:30 p.m.
  VCAM Screening Room

What role should technology play in music of the 21st-century? From the use of drums to organs to laptops, technology has shaped how humans create music. Even J.S. Bach was an avid fan of music-technology, spending hours of his childhood in organ workshops, and supporting the exploration of experimental musical instruments (such as the fortepiano) throughout his career. Technology, though, begs thoughtfulness about its implementation. Social media leverages our desire for validation and connection in order to keep our attention for advertisements. AI is currently being used to replace human creative work through impressive computer-generated images, music, and text. These technologies themselves are not inherently bad, but critical thinking (and perhaps some transgressive art) is required to help us understand how technology can serve humanistic and expressive values.

Simon Hutchinson is a composer and interdisciplinary artist who uses technology as both a creative medium and a thematic focus. His work emphasizes the human dimensions of technology, challenging contemporary technoculture and advocating for a thoughtful approach to our digital age. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Music, Theater, & Dance at the University of New Haven.

Organized by Mei-ling Lee, Assistant Professor of Music. Sponsored by the Department of Music, CRAFT, and the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities.

mlee4 [at] haverford.edu (Contact Mei-ling Lee )