Andrea Parkins: "Sonic Spaces for the Stray”: (Dif)Fusing Dis-location in Sound Installation and Performance


Dif(Fusing) Dis-location: Two Captiva Pianos

Where am I?

I make sonic spaces for the stray.


First, they are wandering spaces for the dis-embodied, for a noisy ghost or poltergeist—with the blind fumbling of an invisible 'excluded', an audible body in sound and space, indicating location, environment, acoustical situation.


During the winter of 2020-21, I worked with a set of piano and electronics recordings that I had created in 2017 at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. I edited the recordings and reprocessed them with my software instrument. After developing a number of iterations, I arrived at a mono file that is 90 minutes long.


Throughout the winter, I listened to this material continuously—living with it. After much experimentation, the file sounded best to me when diffused in my very reverberant living room through only two loudspeakers (rather than four or more speakers), while being played non-synchronously on a single bluetooth speaker in my kitchen.

On the bluetooth kitchen speaker, I began playing the recording at about three minutes after the same recording commenced on the loudspeakers in my living room. From the kitchen, I was able to hear what was happening in my living room. From the living room, I was only able to discern short and fragmentary outbursts of processed piano sound emerging from the kitchen. I listened: moving between the two spaces, hovering in their doorways and in the hallway between them. This resulted in a listening and an embodied experience that feels strongly relevant to my research inquiry.


Of course, one could hear the relationship between the sounds that occurred on the two timelines, but there was enough of a lag between them— and the acoustics in my home are such—that the sound from the kitchen wasn't really perceivable as merely “delayed,” or even as a second canonic part. It was as though the kitchen sound emerged as half-muttered sentences or blurted utterances—fragments derived from the material "speaking" in the living room.


I hear this recording as the basis for a long-form or generative spatial audio work, which could be diffused through adjacent rooms (as it was last winter in my home), or through a large single listening space in which particular sonic gestures could be situated in discrete locations. I may embed a live instrumental part in it, or the piece may remain solely a fixed-media work. 


Two Captiva Pianos (2020-2021)
(excerpt and full-length recording)

© Andrea Parkins / Norwegian Academy of Music