Tasting Sound, Listening to Taste

Tasting sound, Listening to Taste – menu/score

Listen, taste and travel through your body memories. Send us your taste with your voice, words and other means (via mic). Receive ours with your guts, heart and brain. In real time.

Tasting Sound, Listening to Taste (a shared telematic journey through food and migrations) was a 20-minute improvisatory telematic performance, prepared for the Festival of Performances at the 2nd Deep Listening Art/Science conference, and created by Ximena Alarcón, Inês Amado and Ron Herrema in London, and with guests Sharon Stewart, Joe Patatucci and Jonathan Hoefs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. It took place on the 13th of July, 2014, at 1:00pm Troy time, and 5:00pm, London time.

In the making of the initial menu, which we shared with our guests, we focused on aspects of relocation and transformation of sound and taste as they are mediated from one environment to another, one location to another location. We invited them to exchange playfully experiences of taste and sound.

What would be the sensation, the perception and the memory of tasting a sound made by the foreign ingredient, which helped make that sound? How do we experience the displacement, within our improvisation and how does it sound?

How does sound influence taste? And how does taste inform sound?

Our menu was informed by spontaneous connections we made in our daily life with taste and sound, and which we were exchanging by texting each other via mobile phones; these texts created the material, which was used in the performance. We are migrants based in the UK, where people have and still rely on food from all corners of the world. Our experiences of food are enlarged by the fact that we have been recently identified as being allergic to certain foods, perhaps as a result of global mobility of food, and our bodies’ acceptance or rejection of these. Our bodies are silent witnesses of our process of geographical mobility.

We intended to manifest the perception, intuition, sensation and feeling of the food we taste and the sounds it makes, while crossing the borders of our bodies and minds.

“It was lively and funny and juicy and crunchy! What a thought-provoking score, and it was really magical to be carried in the stream of your words, thoughts and sounds.” (Sharon Stewart)

“O yesss it was… yummy, visceral and TOTALLY satisfying (despite reports that we would never be satisfied) Would love to perform the piece again, I was sharing with Sharon and Joe the other day that the process of relating to my food memories and sounding them was a very transformative one for me. Afterwards, when we went to lunch, we were giddy and completely in another dimension. Certainly signs of success. ” (Jonathan Hoefs)

“I continue to sense the texture of the fig we shared together in telematic space. We may never have seen it but we tasted it together, so it must exist.” (Joe Patatucci)

A video with the sound of both locations is forthcoming.

Here there are some excerpts from our work:

performance 1

Performing “Tasting sound, listening to taste” stills from video © Inês Amado


Here you can listen to a sound collage of some moments of the improvisation, from London’s location. Although Troy’s side cannot be heard; only as a distant voice as if it were a telephonic conversation (voice heard through the headphones), it is interesting to note our pauses, and synchronised responses to their sounds.

We triggered pre-recorded sounds from computer keyboards via a PD interface created by Ron Herrema, and performed live sounds too. We connected via the software Jacktrip, and our sounds were played in the cafe area of EMPAC at Troy, New York, where our guests were, just before lunch.


Performing “Tasting sound, listening to taste” stills from video © Inês Amado

Special thanks to Dave Samson, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), for his amazing and swift support for the technical setting (Jacktrip connection and amplification). Many thanks to the network support (IP addresses and ports) offered by Severin Adou and Santhanarajah Krishnarajah, at the University of the Arts London, and Dave Bebb and Brian Cook at RPI.

Many thanks to all improvisers for this listening exploration of memories, sounds and buds.

This performance was supported by Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP), based at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.


Paper published in Liminalities Journal

Published Liminalities Journal


Networked Migrations’ academic paper has been published in the Journal Liminalities, as part of a collection of essays exploring Body, Space and Time in Networked Performance, edited by Garrett Lynch and Rea Dennis.  The contributions to this issue have been compiled from the outcomes of the international conference Remote Encounters: Connecting Bodies, Collapsing Spaces and Temporal Ubiquity in Networked Performance held at the University of South Wales on the 11th and 12th of April 2013.

Liminalities issue 10.1 – http://liminalities.net/10-1/

Direct link to the paper: http://liminalities.net/10-1/networked-migrations.html


Listening to Deep Listening art/science conference


I had the opportunity and the pleasure to attend the first International Deep Listening Art/Science conference in Troy, NY, at the Experimental Media and Performance Arts Centre – EMPAC, organised by the Deep Listening Institute and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

It was an unusual conference, where people gathered to talk, but with the premise of listening deeply. I perceived this at all times, during the talks, performances, workshops and even during the lunch time. Previously I’ve heard and experienced in similar events that listening is demanding and therefore a tiring experience. After three days of continuous Deep Listening to lectures, workshops, performances, listening walks, poster sessions and round tables, I just wanted to listen more and more; I wanted an ever-lasting conference! I was fully energised, not exhausted (even in very high temperatures); this is because Deep Listening invites you to open not only your ears and intellect, but also your full body, to listen. As Pauline Oliveros stated in a round table discussion, listening is not about training the ears but about training the brain. When all sound flows through the body, because of our attentional dynamics, inner and outer perception combine in a delicious feeling which Pauline refers to as homeostasis, an equilibrium which is reached in the space/time continuum of sound, and creates the sensation of being inside of a musical piece that we customise as we listen, compose and perform; we are the music and the instrument for the music.

What was my music made of? It was made of every single paper and performance I heard, the workshops in which I participated, and the ‘sparks’ that these created in my stream of consciousness and knowledge. These ‘sparks’ were present in the anticipations and the surprises, in the non-thinking that occurs when I am performing guided by intuition, by listening, by flow. My own sounding materialised in my ‘Networked Migrations’ paper, and my participatory performance ‘Spider whispers’. The first one flew gently and used the right pace, as I felt listeners tuned into those in-between spaces (migratory and telematic), and into other unnamed spaces of sound. ‘Spider whispers’ was incredibly playful and sonically rewarding. I felt fear when I was standing in front of my audience/performers (I had never done this before, and never with so many people), but I said it, and we laughed and I felt we opened to the idea of becoming spiders, and connecting and bringing our own fears, love and laughter, our extreme fears, strange love and timid laughter that spiders provoke; we were connected.

There is a permanent feeling of gratitude when entering into a Deep Listening space; the flexibility and brilliance of space allows us to escape traditional boundaries of academic settings and protocols that could make us tense and tight. I was attracted to Ben Richter’s talk about Time Distortion, and his suggestion of Deep Listening as ‘a state’. I would say the Deep Listening state depends on each person’s ability to let go and simply listen. Removing all mental obstacles that constrain us to do so, and waiting for things to happen. In the conference, this ‘state’ was approached not only through artistic experiences but also through science. Seth Horowitz, in his keynote speech went deeply into the explanations of how our brain works for us to physically perceive sound, and he also acknowledged the mysteries that still remain in order for science to explain listening. While in the round table discussion, when the participants were discussing Hearing vs Listening, it was suggested that when hearing cannot be explained fully through our physical senses, such as in memories or listening in dreams, the temporality of sound disappears. This is when, I believe, we enter into a state of consciousness, as Richter also suggested, which can be accessed through Deep Listening. As we come into an amazing era of conscious awareness and world connectedness, dissolving all boundaries, including the ones between disciplines, Deep Listening is stimulating the expansion of listening in all kinds of educational, scientific and artistic practices all over the world. The conference gave me a wider breadth of my understanding of this philosophy and practice, and I am grateful to all organisers, presenters, performers and audiences for making possible this unusual event. Here is a link to the programme. I am looking forward to attending the second Deep Listening conference next year. Here an excerpt of ‘Wired for Sound’ by Jay Kreimer:

Wired for Sound by Jay Kreimer at the Deep Listening Conference, 2013 from Ximena Alarcón on Vimeo.

Latin Waves – Interview Migratory Dreams

[Español abajo]
On the 12th of May, I was invited to talk about “Migratory Dreams” in Latin Waves, the first radio programme in the United Kingdom devoted to Latin American avant-garde music from its roots, in Resonance FM. I had an interesting conversation with the journalist and music lover Javier Chandía, the creator of the space, about the ‘in-between’ space and how that concept/feeling is manifested in our dreams, and in our migrations. I shared with Javier, who is also a latinoamerican migrant, that “listening has been the way to connect to the things that I miss” and listening has accompanied my migration; it’s a key faculty that allows my expansion and my feeling of belonging in foreign territories. We also talked about the feeling of being foreigner in our native countries, and the difficulties to understand our multiple identities, which the migratory condition makes explicit. In “Migratory Dreams” there are “shared aspects of migration” which sound in sonic layers that we can perceive and feel.

Latin Waves “Latin American contemporary music from its roots presented by critic and producer Javier Chandia. Broadcast in Spanish and English. Resonance FM 104.4 every Sunday 13.00pm GMT, London. For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Latin-Waves-Resonance-FM/464296020326823”

El 12 de Mayo, fui invitada a hablar sobre “Sueños Migratorios” en el espacio Latin Waves de la emisora Resonance FM, el primer programa radial en el Reino Unido dedicado a divulgar música latinoamericana de vanguardia desde sus raíces. Tuve una conversación muy interesante con el periodista y amante de música experimental Javier Chandía, el creador de este espacio, sobre el ‘espacio intermedio’ y cómo este concepto/sentimiento se manifiesta en nuestros sueños y en nuestras migraciones. Compartí con Javier, quien es también un migrante latinoamericano, que “escuchar ha sido mi forma de conectar con las cosas que extraño” y escuchar ha acompañado mi migración; esta es una facultad clave para permitir mi expansión y mi sentido de pertenencia en territorios extranjeros. También hablamos del sentimiento de ser extranjeros en nuestros países de origen, y las dificultades para entender nuestras múltiples identidades, las cuales se hacen explícitas con la condición migratoria. En “Sueños Migratorios” hay “aspectos compartidos de migración” los cuales suenan en capas sonoras que podemos percibir y sentir.

Latin Waves “Música contemporánea Latinoamericana desde sus races present ado por el crítico y productor musical Javier Chandia. Emite en Español y en Inglés. Resonance FM 104.4 cada Domingo 13.00pm GMT, London. Para mayor información visite: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Latin-Waves-Resonance-FM/464296020326823”

Remote Encounters

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 13.45.19

I experienced Remote Encounters in Cardiff; April 11th and 12th, 2013. A conference organised by the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries from the University of Glamorgan.

Escaping from the over-constructed city centre, on an early morning I go to find the bay.
I hold the torch of the World Harmony Peace statue, to connect with others’ wishes for peace in the world. I am connected with many people using no physical equipment. Holding the torch connects me.

The bodily sensations at that moment are triggered by external stimulus of the sense of touch; I was wondering about internal stimulus, like sound that comes into our bodies when we listen. I imitate the many sounds of the many seagulls; do they imitate my sound, their sound?
Sound is touching our bodies outside and inside. Our mind can scan the inner body, as can the food: internal touch.

At the conference, I noticed how deconstructing my work is the only way to present it. This is the manner in which it comes to life in many different ways. I am more comfortable with the realisation of this… Networked Migrations’ life.

I also noticed that most people working on networked performance live in-between different cities and countries. We hold many identities and languages, and we materialise these in networked performances of all kinds.
We are creating new aesthetics, new sensibilities. Our sensibilities are changing.

There is a forthcoming publication of the papers and performances experienced at Remote Encounters, in ‘Liminalities: a Journal of performance studies‘!

In the Field – ‘Collective, virtual and mediatised fields’

In the Field Symposium

Is the in-between space of the migratory context a sonic ‘field’? What is the field like that Networked Migrations performances such as ‘Letters and Bridges’ and ‘Migratory Dreams’ have created? How do you record it? These were some of the questions that I developed for a paper offered at the ‘In the Field’ International Symposium, which explored the art and craft of field recording and was organised by CRiSAP and the British Library (British Library Conference Centre, London, February 15th and 16th, 2013).

My participation in the panel ‘Collective, virtual and mediatised fields’ allowed me to explore the process lived by participants in the two performances, and raised my awareness of the layers of fields that were involved in each performance.

My abstract states:

‘While the migratory condition pushes participants to search for a sense of belonging in the new or original location, sound improvisation through the Internet and with a Deep Listening approach, creates for them virtual alternative fields. When they share their feelings related to their migrations, through voice expression and pre-recorded sounds, new resonances seem to create spaces detached from physical locations.’

After two days of the symposium reviewing historical, multipurpose, and creative experiences of recording in the field, my proposal of these alternative fields increased in my mind as being relevant. The perception of the inhabited space through different practices and technologies that expand our listening experience help us to inhabit known and unknown territories as a whole and expansive field. It’s about listening to nature and the temporality of decay (Chris Watson), to rural environments through an intimate filter of wool touching our ears (Felicity Ford), human activity that is influenced by acoustic landmarks in a mixture of ecological preoccupation and poetical rendition (Peter Cusack); it’s about locating our body as a field, too (Davide Tidone), it’s about experiencing in about 50 seconds the squeezing of a built space suggesting a memory of catastrophe (David Velez), and it’s about voicing the experience with sound, embodying the field in our voice (Salomé Voegelin).

Looking at my notes from my panel, I see the technology field is crucial in this expansive field. The importance of ‘liveness’ via radio streaming (Udo Noll) makes me think of metaphors for the network: a landscape of consciousness, a real time that is shared time, a sort of augmented audio reality? Zoe Irvine makes us aware of the routes taken by flying audiotape, creating memorials of audio kept in place. And Francesca Pannetta invites us to know the technological developments that allow narratives built from organised layers of sound, from the soundtrack tradition, using maps in London. Reconstruction and deconstruction of sound space, and the volatile nature of sound in a field, is a key point that this panel has left in my memory.

Grateful for this opportunity to listen, share and find connections.

To listen to the Symposium, click here.

Exhibition Migratory Dreams at Furtherfield Gallery – London

Migratory Dreams at Furtherfield Gallery from Ximena Alarcón on Vimeo.

‘Is this a performance, an exhibition, a show, or a picnic?’ and ‘What is this about?’ were some of the initial questions from visitors to the exhibition ‘Migratory Dreams’, which, despite the cold, brought around 50 people from all over the world to Furtherfield Gallery in Finsbury Park on 2 March, 2013.

Curious visitors were greeted with sounds coming from loudspeakers placed on the exterior wall of the Gallery. Colombian food, such as exotic fruit juices, empanadas (pastries), envueltos de mazorca (cornbread rolled in corn leaves), arequipe and natilla (milk-based desserts), helped to emphasise the migratory nature of the event and evoked memories and relationships with both territory and body: reminders of a land that used to feed Colombians and latinoamerican migrants. The body recalls memories of warm corn and fried cassava.

Inside the gallery, eight dreams were displayed through mp3 players in a dimly lit atmosphere, inviting attendees to an intimate listening experience that could nonetheless be shared with others. The eight dreams were the result of the telematic performance that was created in real-time between four Colombians residing in London, and four Colombians residing in Bogotá: linked by diverse migratory experiences on the 2nd of August, 2012.

In the exhibition, the listeners had access to transcriptions of the dreams, which originated in Spanish and were translated into English. Translation is itself a migration of language, extending the links of the universal experience of geographical movement, and of the universe of dreams. Javier, one of the visitors, suggested that ‘ “Migratory Dreams” represents a mental universe of migrants that is not visible in the society that receives them’. Neither is it visible in the society that has been left; in the exhibition there was a chance to hear thoughts and feelings that come from this ‘universe’.

Visitors also were invited to exchange dreams through a dream box. The box provoked interaction between unacquainted people and provided the opportunity to further share the common universes of migration and dreams.

During the event, a bilingual talk was presented to explain the creative and experiential process lived by the performers, and to help realise possible links or ties that are created in a collective dream. The talk described how the performance followed preparatory workshops drawn from Deep Listening philosophy and practices. Visitors were curious about concepts such as ‘dream incubation’, which was beautifully explained by the youngest of the crowd (a 6-year-old boy), who assertively imagined this process as resembling the one that happens between ‘a chicken and the eggs’. ‘Yes, it’s something like that, and with the warmth that is required’, I replied.

Equally, processes of listening mediated by technologies, made him wonder if people are ‘hearing the same sounds’ in each city. The answer this time is not easy. Listening is subjective, and in fact the differences in technical output in each city created distinct experiences. The recorded streaming signal is the common representation for audiences to listen ‘to the same sounds’. Networks and migrations were concepts that provoked other interesting questions from the audience that in turn allowed for expansion: functional, technical, poetic and philosophical references were part of the conversation.

Andrea, another visitor, said to me that this exhibition touched deeply ‘a fibre’ and that this unusual experience will remain with her. In this sense, the event was achieving its purpose: creating resonances and awareness of invisible links we migrants and dreamers share. And it was not only Colombians who joined this party. People from many different geographical locations came to eat, drink, listen, share and to connect, not necessarily driven to understand the slippery nature of dreams, and the transitory essence of migrations, but just to be there. Aha, so was it a party?

Thanks to Futherfield Gallery for the invitation to use their ‘Clear Spots’ experimental space.