Sonic Life – Listening to NSU’s History

Lived Anthologies gathers the “sound worlds” of Nordic Summer University – the voices of keynotes, theoretical texts and artistic pieces that make up our archive. The project explores how we listen to someone’s voice, how it shakes us with a rattle or sway, a quiver or surge, a swell or a drop. The sounds collages play with the relationship between sense and sensuousness, a balance that voices must bear as they deliver their ultimatums in a unique aurality.

Below, you can find details of how to access the soundscapes of Lived Anthologies, which are being gradually released. The “listening stations” are scattered across the Nordic and Baltic region. Anyone can trigger and listen to the podcasts at these locations by downloading a free app. These locations reflection significant places in NSU’s history: the sites of our academic and artistic partners, our previous meeting spots, and places from our history.

Lived Anthologies is produced by researcher and sound artist Eduardo Abrantes https://eduardoabrantes.com.

  1. This is a list of the works that will been given a sonic life:
  • Available:
  • Abrantes, E. (2017). Local sound families and a choir in Estonia: Inquiring into acoustic specificity through multi-layered soundscapes. In L. Greenfield, M. Trustram, & E. Abrantes (Eds.), Artistic Research – Being There: Explorations into the Local. Århus: NSU Press. (Read by Gry Buhrkall)
  • Upcoming:
  • Lagerström, C. (2015). Silent Walk: Unpredictable Encounters in Urban Space. In C. Fentz & T. McGuirk (Eds.), Artistic Research: Strategies for Embodiment. Århus: NSU Press. (Read by Katharina Stenbeck)
  • Koefoed, O., Kagan, S., & Dieleman, H. (2011). Sustensive Intercultural Chronotopes. In M. Paulsen, O. Koefoed, C. Ydesen, & J. Kromann (Eds.), Learning from the Other: Intercultural Metalogues. Malmö: NSU Press. (Read by Kate Donovan)
  • Riikonen, E. (2017). Entering Spaces, Creating Places: A Human Geographical Approach to the Production of the Everyday. In C. Friberg & R. Vazquez (Eds.), Experiencing the Everyday. Århus: NSU Press. (Read by Rosa Oikonomou)
  • Steinskog, E. (2005). The Decay of Aura – The Aura of Decay. In D. Petersson & E. Steinskog (Eds.), Actualities of Aura. Svanesund: NSU Press. (Read by Katharina Stenbeck)
  • Straume, I. S. (2011). The Political Imaginary of Global Capitalism. In I. S. Straume & J. F. Humphrey (Eds.), Depolitization – The Production of Global Capitalism. Malmö: NSU Press. (Read by Arlene Tucker)
  • This is how to listen to them:
  • Download the mobile app Echoes at: https://explore.echoes.xyz/ -this is a free app which allows you to listen to the different sound files at their physical locations.
  • Once on location (see list below), just open your app and click on the “near you” option to find the anthologies, they will be marked as blue circles (“echoes”) in the map, named “NSU Lived Anthologies”, and all you have to do to start listening is to walk into them. You are then free to explore the location, moving or standing still while the anthology is playing. All the “echoes” are placed in public spaces with free access.
  • These are the locations where all the anthologies are available for listening:
  • Copenhagen (Kongens Have)
  • Århus (Botaniske Have)
  • Stockholm (Gamla Stan, Skeppsholmen)
  • Göteborg (Slottsskogen)
  • Oslo (Vigeland Park)
  • Reykjavik (Grandi harbour area, around “the pond” / Tjörnin)
  • Nuuk (Old Nuuk area)
  • Tallinn (Hirvepark)
  • Vilnius (Bernardine park)
  • These are the special locations where only particular anthologies can be heard – these are more remote areas somehow closely related to the anthology itself:
  • Mooste village, Estonia (Abrantes, Local Sound Families)

Closer

In a text submitted for one of the most recent anthologies to be published in the NSU context, Artistic Research: Being There (2018), I described at length a constellation of voices belonging to a few friends and co-creators I happened to be sharing a lodging with during springtime 2015, in Mooste, southeast Estonia.

I remember them as they sounded to me. Their voices together in that place, as a family of consonant sounds. John, soft spoken and quiet even in motion, almost all breath and no tone in his often lingering words. Evelyn, resonant and sharp in her mezzo-soprano harmony of briskness and warmth. Sebastian, a soundscape of crescendos in his open, inviting tone, words following thoughts, climbing and descending, always gathering strength for a higher peak. Luisa, the voice of a listener and a storyteller, with a quick, lithe and rich tone, and a confident hesitation that allows others’ voices to rest with hers. Ming, both tentative and booming, a hyper masculine and well-rounded baritone, at times undercut by breathless reticence. Elsie, their child’s voice vibrating in low shy clarity, reminded me of the subtle presence of a single glass marble rolling, swerving and throwing sparks of light. Kathleen, the voice of a speaker and a witness, combining coloratura of expression with matter-of-factness of punctuation. Myna, her tone paused and deeply rooted, balancing arresting sobriety with an undertone of flashing curiosity.

In the current phase of my anniversary project – Lived Anthologies – I have been thinking about voices a lot, because I am actively searching for speakers for vocal narration. There is so much to consider when thinking about a voice, it brings with it not only the whole body, but also a biographical aura, a cultural context, and the radical lived presence of an acoustic soul.

Soul. Hard to use this notion meaningfully nowadays, if not metaphorically or poetically. The ancient Greeks had a lot to say about the soul. At least one of them, in at least one book, discussed it as a chariot pulled by two horses. One horse was good, the other not so much. The uneven communion which is the human soul therefore would move much like a sinewave. Sometimes going up towards heaven, other times falling down to earth. Pulsing imperfectly, vibrating constantly. Like its Greek namesake, the butterfly (ψυχή). Like a voice.

When listening to someone’s voice, one is shaken. Literally. If it is a rattle or a sway, a quiver or a surge, a swell or a drop – the associations are lively and active when we become aurally engaged. To frame and fasten the voice, the right one for the task at hand – for the saying, telling, or singing even of the kind of truth inherent in a text – is not easy. And these are not poetic texts I am dealing with. These are science, most of them, in the sense that science is when it aims at making sense non-sensuously. Sense and sensuous are the key terms, and it is voice that bears the brunt of the task, the heaviest corner of the pilgrim’s icon throughout the procession.

So I listen and make choices, and layer sounds upon sounds, sounds under sounds, masking and enveloping, sometimes outright misleading, using all the tools available to create a sensorially rich aural scenography of meaning. From letter to utterance, from utterance to swelling composition, with a more than healthy pinch of constant doubt thrown in. It is the due owed to creative bringing forth. Hope you listen for it when its summer embodiment comes around for a visit.

Eduardo Abrantes, Copenhagen, March 9, 2020