I began this fellowship back in October, with my numbers, statistics software, and cello in tow. I’ve spent the past few months thinking about how we can forge connections and conversations between social policy and the arts, between facts and expression - and wondering why these worlds are often so separate in the first place. I’ve also spent some time working on these connections by selecting relevant social data, playing with formulas to convert the data to musical properties, and then, while preserving the mathematical integrity, applying my own musical aesthetic to create complete soundscapes.
The idea is to create soundscapes that not only mathematically represent social complexity, but go beyond the data in their expression of the numbers and trends. At the very least, I hope to highlight specific social issues through this math-music project, but ideally I hope that this project will illuminate these issues through this new lens and as a result instigate new conversations. Traditional approaches to talking about social issues, it seems, impose their own lenses and thought patterns and I hope that this type of interdisciplinary approach will help us break down those boundaries. A former professor of mine once said, about interdisciplinary work, that people get “twitchy around the edges.” For some reason, that phrase really stuck with me, especially while slogging through that nebulous territory between one defined thing and another, greeted by other people’s twitchy responses, and I’ll admit, doing a great deal of my own twitching as well. That being said, I’m grateful for this fellowship, as it has given me the opportunity to really settle into those twitchy spaces.
So, to that end I’ve created three “soundscapes” so far. They can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/datacompositions
(Click on the title of each track to be taken to a page with a narrative about the data that was used)
And, I’d also like to take this opportunity to give thanks to Brigitte, Paige and Josh for this opportunity and for embracing data and math in the art world.
North Omaha data! Collaborative work! Visual elements! Exhibitions of the work!
COVER PHOTO // Bridget McQuillan