Headphone Soundscapes | 5/16 Illusion Show

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 2.16.04 PMThe little boy pictured above ran, stood and sat around in a huge gallery watching painters paint, dancers dance, musicians play, writers speak…while the sound of a live heartbeat (my own) colored his perceptions. Anyone who attended the Illusion Show this May at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts had the opportunity to explore the gallery while sporting a white blue-tooth headset, one synched with a stethoscope I was holding to my heart. Because my whole body became a ‘receiver’ of sound-waves, and the space was filled with the activity of 60 artists performing over five hours, the strong sound of my heartbeat mixed softly with the ambient sounds of the room to create a unique auditory experience, a true heartbeat soundscape.

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Art & Peace-Making Through the Lens of Embodiment

I recently attended a discussion lead by Roberto Gutiérrez Varea at the Red Poppy Art House in the Mission district of San Francisco. Varea’s “research and creative work focuses on the intersection of performance and peace-building in the context of social conflict and state.” (FB Red Poppy) He has co-authored & co-edited a two-volume anthology “Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict,” amongst myriad of other efforts, achievements and accolades. We listened and learned about the experiences of people in the places he visits and his often intensely intimate, difficult and inspirational work; Caleb Duarte, current artistic co-director of the art house, suggested that we consider how we might apply such principles and practices to our own work, as well as to the current climate of unrest & change here in the Mission. He offered what it would mean to think of the Red Poppy itself as “Artist.” Later, Todd T Brown, founder, asked how we could apply Roberto’s approach to art/peace-making specifically to what is being created at The Red Poppy. 

What follows is my ever shifting response~

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Interview on Mutiny Radio’s Women’s Magazine




“Essentially many of my questions about public space fall under one question: is this a healthy space? What I mean by ‘healthy’ is: Can people be engaged there? Can we be playful there? Powerful? Can we feel our agency? Can we be, in a sense, loving?”

On March 6th I was interviewed by Val Iberra on Women’s magazine on Mutiny Radio, broadcast in collaboration with KPFA. It was my first time being interviewed; it was also our first airing of a Radio Heartbeat Soundscape. There was a lot I wanted to share; below are some of the ideas about public space that were discussed in the interview. 

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Why the heartbeat in public space?

“…She may again make herself visible by bringing back the power of perceptibility.”

 -The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 3.21, as translated by BKS Iyengar


It is not the seeking of information, the seeking of products, the seeking of prolonged life, the seeking of nourishment, the seeking of comfort, the seeking of the right-of-way, the seeking of validation, power nor speed, that this exhibit will satisfy.

This project is an act of making something that is dimly perceived perceivable, because doing so is useful, applicable to many spheres, and an experience complete unto itself.

The heart is a common and unique denominator that transcends so many other differentiable signifiers—color, gender, age, nationality, language, experience, socio-economic status, intellectual acuteness, deaf, dumb, blind, limbless, -ness.  To perceive the heart—to feel it beat, to hear it beat, to have your rhythm literally sync with another by being with another’s— is to perceive without question what Paolo Virno deems a relation between “the highest possible degree of communality or generality and the highest possible degree of singularity.” This is one intent of this public space.

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To Retire Old Ideas: Relevance of Embodied Public Spaces

In a recent post on Washington Post’s Know More blog, they sited a video that edge.com made asking prominent scientists “What scientific ideas should be abandoned?” While the video introduced some intriguing subjects on big data, microbes & the Big Bang, I found it’s underlying point most impactful: abandoning long held beliefs is an important part of progress—it’s just as important in fact as the embrace of the cutting edge. It’s from this place that I write today about public body knowledge, or what we term ‘BODY LITERACY.’

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Embodied public spaces offer direct experiences of: Physiological Safety, Using Body Literacy as a Critical Lens, Live Sound, Living Spaces, Expanding Boundaries, Environmental psychology, Spaces of Belonging, Spaces of Beauty, Spaces of Agency. Each experience prompts us to consider how public spaces and trends effect us physically & physiologically–how they direct our physical habits, choices and attention.This kind of awareness is an important part of body-literacy. Below I postulate on the above list as they pertain to the heartbeat soundscapes.

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Modern public spaces are considered an essential component of sustainable cities, the goals of which focus on uniting a diverse public in social, civic, political, economic and biodiversity activities. “When we think of public space in terms of our embodied presence, 

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Embodiment | Heart

The heartbeat is universal beyond nationality, gender, race; it needs—and has—no direct translation. Hearing music, the intonation of a human voice, the lyrics of song or the words of debate can provoke a deeply personal response, making us ‘feel’ ourselves and others more; hearing the heartbeat does the same in a profoundly tangible way. 

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