Remaking Pittsburgh: Permaculture soundscapes (2014)

Jeremy Woodruff

About this exposition

In this essay I confront how sound art might make a contribution to groups practicing progressive ecology in a city as well as how that pursuit can enrich a sonic practice. As a result of research in permaculture gardening (a philosophy of ecological landscape design started in the late 70s) and ethnomusicology (especially on gamelan), I reimagined my creative process. I investigate whether it is possible with permaculture's philosophy to compose social connections, both in the imagination of sound and in the artwork's actual dissemination. I see how these structures impact the work's reception and the Hazelwood Food Forest (HFF) in Pittsburgh where the piece was developed. In this essay on my installation Gongburgh: Steeltown Forests I describe what my composition contributed and how that urban garden ensured a rich listening experience alongside other sound sources, including gamelan and steel factories. Gongburgh is an experiment in sustainable music making: in return for a (monetary) donation to the HFF on my website, listeners may download the forty-minute long composition that uses sound from the garden. In this way I promote the garden, but in return hope for repayment in organic food from the HFF as a form of worktrade. The sound of work in an urban garden versus that in a steel factory, in combination with gamelan music brings out novel similarities and differences between the sounds and, in turn, between ideas inherent in their social organization. This opens up political questions for both the garden and an anonymous listener. Further speculation on connections between specific permaculture principles and sound art emerge in a brief discussion of another one of my sound works, Phonosynthesis.
typeresearch exposition
last modified26/06/2014
share statuspublic
licenseAll rights reserved
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue07. Issue 7
connected toJournal of Sonic Studies

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