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, which 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 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 un-hierarchical characteristics.
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 that 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?
Mixing Music, Cybernetics, and Feminism.
Abstract coming soon.
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.
Generative Transformations – Deviate from the Grid
Susanne Kirchmayr will 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Annie Goh is an artist, researcher and educator working primarily with sound, space, gender and electronic media and their social and cultural contexts. Currently based in London and Berlin, she is a lecturer at Berlin University of Arts and a PhD student at Goldsmiths University, London. She has guest curated at the discourse program of CTM Festival since 2013.
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