DETROIT PHONO—GRAPHERS UNION
I am a founding member of the Detroit Phonographers' Union, a loose group of audiophiles who perform together using untreated and unprocessed location recordings that each member has individually recorded. Drawing inspiration from other phonographers' unions in New England and Seattle, the DPU explores and documents their sonic environment, capturing auditory phenomena otherwise lost in order to record and playback the particularity of places within new listening contexts.
As a part of Design Inquiry, an educational design organization, the Detroit Phonographers’ Union were artists-in-residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. During the residency, DPU member Ben Gaydos and I recorded audio of spaces that had been affected by the I-75 urban renewal highway projects of the 1960s and 1970s. Using binaural and stereo microphones, we recorded the din of highway pedestrian bridges and sounds of the swing sets in the Mies Van der Rohe housing development that was built in the wake of a once thriving African American cultural center that had been completely razed to make way for the construction of I-75. These urban renewal projects built the infrastructure that to this day divides communities and contributes to racial and economic segregation and inequality. Using the audio from these excursions, we performed “Detroit Acoustic Ecologies,” a four channel live-mix and then installed the unprocessed location recordings in the gallery.
Detroit Acoustic Ecologies was first performed on May 21, 2015 at <<audience>> Sound Off Salon in New York. The works performed were composed using location recordings from Detroit. Recordings were gathered over the course of four years (2011-2015) and featured textured layers of the sonic ecology of that time. The ever-present sound of highways, the driving rhythms of a small forgings factory, the clanging of a train carrying steel to the Ford Factory, the eerie quiet of an almost empty downtown: these sounds all speak to the many realities that make up this complex city.
Listen to the live mix from MOCAD here.
Press: 2016. Emergency Index: An annual document of performance practice, Vol. 5, Ugly Duckling Press.