[-empyre-] Week 4: Feminism Confronts Audio Technology - Day 1

Rachel Devorah Trapp racheldtrapp at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 16:06:34 EST 2014

Thank you for that tip on Gaboury's work, Asha!

Tara Rodger's "Pink Noise" is an excellent example of the kind of resource
I feel is necessary, and is proof-positive that the matriarchal lines of
pedagogy within electronic music are strong (I very much think of myself as
a "granddaughter of" or a "daughter of" the artists who have come before me
[and I do so in no small part because of her book]).

The next step I hope we can take in bringing the biographical histories of
all electronic music innovators into electronic music curricula is to move
past the purely hagiological language we use to describe their creative and
career achievements. It is more powerful and gives greater credit to the
work of the innovator to look at their work with a fully critical eye.
Alvin Lucier gave a talk at Mills two years ago which was in effect a
chronology of his creative and career failures: it was this critical
dissection of his own oeuvre that taught me far more about his creative
process than studying his great works.

I mention this because of the point about tokenism in pedagogy you included
in your original post. If we demythologize innovators with vigorous
criticism and include this criticism alongside their biographical
histories, it will be transparent why certain innovators are or are not
included in curricula.

On Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM, Asha Tamirisa <ashatamirisa at gmail.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Rachel- thanks for this! A few things quickly come to mind: Tara Rodgers,
> in both Pink Noises and in her chapter in Sound Studies on Feminist
> Historiographies, talks about patrilineal language in electronic music
> history--- e.g. Max Mathews as the father of computer music, in the movie
> Modulations, Stockhausen is referred to as the godfather of electro (which
> I find kind of strange anyway). To the fault of our culture, the cultural
> weight of being a mother doesn’t carry the same sense of authorship as
> being a father, so we tend not to ascribe the same types of formal titles
> to artists and thinkers such as Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Daphne Oram, or
> Laurie Spiegel. The collective handle and understanding of patrilineal
> language perpetuates the glorification of male figures.
> But I think you are pointing towards something else, which is that it is
> not just the formal titling of so-called inventors, but actually knowing
> their biographical history that allows us to see them as people and better
> see ourselves as participants of the field. I remember asking exactly these
> types of questions when learning about Pauline Oliveros, Pamela Z, Laurie
> Spiegel, Suzanne Ciani… wanting to know where they studied, who they
> studied with, etc. I think Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner’s and Tara Rodgers’ work
> is important for this very reason, hearing the stories of women in the
> field, but wouldn’t it be great if these stories were more integrated into
> the texts and syllabi commonly used in Intro to Computer Music courses!
> Also, Jacob Gaboury is doing incredible work on parallel ideas in comp
> sci-- A Queer History of Computing:
> http://rhizome.org/editorial/2013/feb/19/queer-computing-1/
> Lots more to say about this, but trying to keep it short :)
> On Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 12:42 AM, Rachel Devorah Trapp <
> racheldtrapp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hello everyone and thank you to Renate, Tim and Asha for inviting me!
>> Asha's points about pedagogy are ever-present in my mind. Many of the
>> narratives that we weave about our discipline eschew what might be
>> perceived as “irrelevant” elements of race, gender, and class. Yet
>> this detritus is important. People create music; people are the agents
>> in the creation of ideas. An individual's cumulative experience stands
>> behind the sound.
>> As the love child of music and technology, electronic music in its
>> current state is exploding with creative uses of computer code. So if
>> we turn our attention to a computer science course, we quickly see
>> that these courses are often devoid—probably for the sake of time and
>> efficiency—of discussions about agents: the people who made the code,
>> functions, or scripts and their histories. Frankly, for computer
>> scientists, an employer probably does not care if a job applicant the
>> history of Bjarne Stroustrup and C++.
>> The stories of innovators such as Leon Theremin and Robert Moog are
>> written into our histories of development, but are only included when
>> they are necessary to chronicle the basic evolution of the
>> technologies. By disavowing the human history of our field, we leave
>> behind real, important detritus: the valuable information about our
>> innovators from all backgrounds. These stories are necessary to the
>> study of electronic music because they provide paradigms for students
>> who are in the process of becoming the next generation of innovators.
>> All artists at one point in their career have read a fact or detail in
>> a biography (or heard a story/urban legend) about a luminary in their
>> field that inspired them. Even more powerful are these histories for
>> students who might not have shared experiences with their mentors or
>> cohort. Students benefit from identifying with the stories of
>> innovators who came before them, and the usefulness of identification,
>> of course, is not exclusive to race, gender, and class.
>> My analysis is one of a practitioner and student of electronic music
>> not a historian, so I freely admit that
>> this is a surface look which does not fully account for wider cultural
>> implications.
>> I look forward to all of your thoughts!
>> Rachel
>> racheldevorahtrapp.com
>> On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM, Asha Tamirisa <ashatamirisa at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> > Dear Renate and Tim,
>> >
>> > Thanks so much! I’m honored to be included in this month’s discussion
>> along with such an incredible group of artists and scholars: Rachel,
>> Monisola, Caroline, and Lyn.
>> >
>> > I will begin the discussion this evening with a post on my own research
>> on modular interfaces, and the ways in which their design and use expresses
>> particular ideas of power, freedom, connection, and subjectivity. My hope,
>> though, is that this week’s discussion will expand into larger issues of
>> feminist approaches of audio technology, audio culture, history, pedagogy,
>> and feminist spaces, drawing inspiration from the incredible work done by
>> scholars like Tara Rodgers, Harraway, Judy Wajcman, Anne Basalmo, and Wendy
>> Chun. I will keep tabs on all resources and ideas and summarize them into a
>> bibliography/list at the end.
>> >
>> > To preface, here are some topics I hope to touch on in this week:
>> >
>> > Audiotechnical Design
>> > * Rhetorical weight in technological design
>> > * How can technological design not just make things “better” but
>> “different” in ways that provoke social change?
>> >
>> > Audiotechnical Language:
>> > * What does the language imply? Who does it exclude?
>> >
>> > Feminist Spaces
>> > * Intersectionality: Why haven’t most feminist electronic music spaces
>> addressed race and broader issues of gender diversity? What are some
>> examples of structures that have?
>> > * Fetishizing/categorizing women in electronic music
>> > * Male allyship
>> >
>> > Pedagogy
>> > * Why is there resistance to incorporating gender and race into the
>> study of this field? Is that changing?
>> > * Moving beyond tokenism: How can the study of gender and race not be
>> an appendage to the field, but a true part of its study?
>> > * Making balanced / diverse syllabi
>> > * Changing use of gendered/racialized language
>> >
>> > History / Archives
>> > * Radical archives / Integrating feminist archives into “mainstream”
>> electronic music history
>> > * Linkages between militaristic technological development and audio
>> technologies
>> > * Complicating the relationship electronic music history to
>> Futurism/Fascism
>> >
>> > Very much looking forward to seeing what this network brings to the
>> fore! All best,
>> >
>> > --
>> > - Asha Tamirisa
>> >
>> > ashatamirisa at gmail.com
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > empyre forum
>> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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> --
> - Asha Tamirisa <http://ashatamirisa.net/>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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