The Sound of Forgetting: the setup

May 17th 2018

(This blogpost is part of a series of that will be posted in the six days leading up to the Museum of Random Memory: The Sound of Forgetting, happening in Cardiff/UK and Cork/Ireland. See all blogposts in the series.)

Sound is an evocative and powerful way to express and explore absences. No matter where we are, there’s always an outside, invisible others, an unseen elsewhere.

The live soundscape we’re creating between Cork/Ireland and Cardiff/Wales dramatically embodies these unseen elsewheres – evoking through sound the unheard and unseen to bring them into experience. It allows participants to be in Cardiff and, likewise, in Cork. It invites people to imagine the sounds and lives absent from these places; to speculate on the sounds of possible futures. In this way, we seek to shine light into the gaps, to make present the absences.

This sketch from our process shows our first attempt to make present the absent.

Between Cardiff and Cork lies a common point: the sonic scape, created through the mix. In both sides, the presence of the absent: the deported and the departed; the docks and the gallows.

The socio-political issues of deportation and departure are experiences infused with absence – absence of people, languages, sounds, accents, ideas, lives. We will use sound archives and contributions from the audience to converge on the theme of the deported and the departed, calling attention to displacement and absence.

Practically speaking, this will mean building two live audio-mixing sites and generating a soundscape from the mix created between them. The sound exists, in a sense, above the two sites: it is a product of what we will be doing in both Cork and Cardiff and the sound collaboration created in between.

What’s in the mix?
Found Stuff: The sounds mixed in both locations will be a wide range of archival audio material on the themes of the deported and departed. These include media interviews with refugees in Cardiff; ambient recordings of decommissioned Cork coastal foghorns; and music, poetry and languages that meld local and migrant influences, such as the Cork accents of the Caribbean Irish.

Contributed Stuff: We will ask the audience in both cities to contribute their stories, reflections and responses to our playful prompts about memory, forgetting, sound and absence. These audio-recorded donations collected from participants in both Cork and Cardiff will then be live-mixed with the archival material by our DJs and sounds artists.  This means that, as they participate, contributors’ live inputs go into the mix. The two sites will also share and remix the input from the other side. In between, an improvised soundscape will emerge.

Found archives are mixed and remixed with live input from participants. The two spaces exist through the interaction.

Essential technical conditions for the experimental performance: the live collaboration between the sites and the live remixing of audio.

The DJs in Cardiff (Milton Peña) and Cork (Stevie G and GENERIC PEOPLE) act as mediators and interpreters of these different types of material. They improvise, creatively mixing and remixing the archival and live material to further evoke the experiences of deportation and departure; to conjure the sounds that are lost, forgotten, privileged and morphed with the movement of people, lives, languages and cultures.

What is the sound of absence? In MoRM’s The Sound of Forgetting, we’re creating a collaborative soundscape that dramatically embodies unseen elsewheres – evoking through sound the unheard and unseen, the departed and the deported.  

Museum of Random Memory: The Sound of Forgetting
Data Justice Conference (Cardiff/UK) and Webworkhouse (Cork/Ireland), 21-22 May 2018
This iteration is born out of a collaboration between: Dalida Benfield, Chris Bratton, Annette Markham, Milton Peña, Jack Lynskey, Shannon Walsh, Mórna O’Connor, Anu A. Harju, Robert Ochshorn, Robert Brooks, Gabriel Pereira, Antonio Santos, Stevie Grainger, GENERIC PEOPLE, and Shaun O’Connor
A project of futuremaking.space, Aarhus University, and Center for Arts, Design + Social Research

For live updates from the field, follow @MuseumOfRandMem

Creating Future Memories

This page is part of Creating Future Memories, an Aarhus University funded research project exploring speculative, future-oriented, and participatory methods for citizens to understand and better control the data being produced through and around the everyday use of digital media.