Saturday 1st Febuary 2014
CTM 2014 “Dis Continuity”
Lectures and panel discussion: Sadie Plant (UK/CH), Susanne Kirchmayr (AT), Fender Schrade (DE), Marie Thompson (UK)
Moderation: Annie Goh (UK/DE)
Recent discourse on the subject of women and electronic music falls tendentially into two categories; either writing forgotten histories of pioneering work of women such as Daphne Oram, Elaine Radigue, Delia Derbyshire, Pauline Oliveros, Maryanne Amacher amongst many others, or with reference to the recent statistics via female:pressure, highlight the huge quantitative discrepancies between male and female musicians, DJs and producers represented at labels and music festivals worldwide. Whilst both can be considered worthwhile approaches in their own right, the former approach risks creating fetishized figures of "patchbay nuns" (Abi Bliss) and the latter finds hostile responses and risks ostracization in its own field. In both, one fundamentally important aspect remains overlooked - Judith Butler formulated this as the necessity not only to inquire how the category of “women” might become more fully represented - for example here in music -, but also crucially to understand and critique the very categories and structures of power in which these discourses operate.
Taking root from an abstract ontological level, in which binary categories of sex and gender have long been refuted (biologically as well as culturally), the panel aims to assess the interactions between sound, gender and technology from various philosophical and artistic positions. The widely discussed "cyberfeminism" borne in the early 1990s questioned the perpetuation of technology as a male-dominated domain, whilst also inciting digital culture as an ideal flourishing ground for subversive strategies. Though the relationship of this purported digital utopia never largely or explicitly addressed sound, it shares dimensions in its affective power as well as non-linear, decentralized and unhierarchical characteristics.
After approximately two decades since cyberfeminism boomed - how can we assess the cyberfeminist dream of the subversive potentialities within technology in the current status quo? How does an inquiry into the nature of sound tally to the broader aims of cyberfeminism? Does a gendered understanding of technology and sound technologies help the dismantling of the structures which form sound, gender and technology today, or does it perpetuate these? Referring to both levels of feminist activism and feminist theory outlined above, as well as the dual tendencies within cybernetics towards order and chaos at the core of cyberfeminism – what can be identified as continuity and discontinuity in the structures of sound, gender and technology?
Sadie Plant (UK/CH)
“Mixing music, cybernetics, and feminism.”
Some thoughts on the longstanding connections between music and cybernetics.
Susanne Kirchmayr (AT)
"Generative transformations - Deviate from the grid"
Susanne Kirchmayr wil deliver insights into her praxis of sound production and composition. Drawing on her background in linguistics, her recent compositions have worked with human, often female voices to deal with themes of the disintegration of spoken languages, deconstruction and reorganization of meanings and [grammatical] structures. In her presentation, she will also demonstrate her research into the musical potential of concurrent sequences with divergent timings in order to go beyond the scope of ordinary rhythmic synchronizations.
Fender Schrade (DE)
"Performing Between Their Bodies And Your Ears. Stories of a Trans*gendered Live Sound Engineer."
Fender Schrade approaches live sound engineering through an artistic as well as a trans*feminist perspective. The talk will discuss the particularities of the agency of a live sound engineer and the interactions with space, bodies, technology and sound.
Marie Thompson (UK)
In this talk, Marie will explore the relationship between constructions of femininity and noise, which is understood here as an affective, transformative force, rather than simply as unwanted sound. She will suggest that ‘feminine’ noises are often deemed negative; not because of what they mean, but as a result of the transformations they threaten to induce. Marie will raise questions around essentialism – does talking of a feminine or feminized noise require us to adopt an essentialist position, or can an alternative approach be found?
Sadie Plant has taught in the areas of philosophy and cultural studies at Birmingham University, Warwick University, and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, and has a longstanding interest in the cultural implications of technological change. She is the author of The Most Radical Gesture, Zeros and Ones, and Writing on Drugs, and has recently translated Nicolai and Wenzel's Labyrinth (Spector Books, 2013).
Susanne Kirchmayr aka Electric Indigo, DJ, composer, musician, has performed in 37 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In 1998 she founded female:pressure - an international network for female artists in the realms of electronic music and club culture. As a composer and musician she emphasizes the spatial-temporal placement of subtly textured sounds. She received the "outstanding artist award Musik 2012" in the field of electronic music and computer music and the national grant for composition 2013 from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture.
Important works in recent years comprise multichannel compositions "Structuring Contours" - premiere at Klangspuren Festival 2011, "RRHONFEER-RRHEFNEOR" for Moozak Festival 2012, and "Chiffres" - premiere at e_may / Wien Modern 2012, as well as her works for the radical opera "ABSTRIAL" together with composer Pia Palme and choreographer/dancer Paola Bianchi, and "something wicked" for hoergeREDE Festival with author Olga Flor 2013. Currently, Electric Indigo works on her first solo album.
Marie Thompson is a writer and researcher, based in Nottingham, UK. She is primarily interested in the affective and materialist dimensions of sound and music. She recently completed her PhD thesis, ‘Beyond Unwanted Sound: Noise, Affect and Aesthetic Moralism’, at the International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University; and teaches at Lincoln School of Media, University of Lincoln. She is the co-editor of Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience (Bloomsbury, 2013) and has published on the relationship between noise and notions of femininity. Marie is also active as a musician/soundmaker, playing solo as Tragic Cabaret and in the band Beauty Pageant.
Fender Schrade is a musician, performance artist, light designer and media engineer. Since 1994, he_she* has worked as a live sound engineer in various international venues. Using different electronic media such as sound, light and video in the fields of performance art and live art, music and sound, his_her* practice is performance-based and situation-led; exploring the boundaries of cultural norms and media technological developments from a trans*gender perspective.
In collaboration with Chris Regn, Fender composed the music for the queerfeminist performance project Vegan Opera (2006) produced by Bildwechsel Hamburg, Germany. Together with Linda Wölfel Fender, he_she co-founded the Berlin-based queer pop duo VOW, who recently released the EP Summer Lightning (2013). In 2013 Fender collaborated as a composer and performer with the performance group Nana And Friends. Fender teaches on sound culture, media technology and trans*gender issues, and has taught internationally including at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
Annie Goh (moderator) is an artist and researcher working primarily with sound, space, electronic media and generative processes. She is guest curator of the discourse program of CTM 2014.