PRACTICABLE 8_“Otherness and sound technologies” with Khyam Allami

Music creation, as well as sonic imaginaries and vocabulary, are inextricably dependent on sound technologies and their impact on transcultural musical practice. Taking the self-generated software Apotome and the general coordinates of his research as a starting point, Khyam Allami highlights the cultural asymmetries, biases and non-neutrality inherent in current music creation software, allowing for the shaping of new systems of sound organization and the production of sound standards. Using pitch tuning as a prism, and inspired by the cross-pollination of Arabic music fundamentals with experimental compositional techniques, instrumentation and technologies, he highlights the repressed possibilities of transcultural music making as a result of inherited biases embedded within sound technologies and the music theory that underpins them, positioning them as dominant remnants of Anglo-European colonial logics. 

In Practicable 8, Khyam Allami, accompanied by Maite Borjabad, proposes to collectively investigate forms of transcultural sound imaginaries and delve into microtonal composition through decolonial and creolizing approaches to sonic technologies and various acoustic, electroacoustic and electronic instrumentations. These encounters are organized within the framework of the exhibition “The Production of Otherness: an Archaeology of Standards” (working title) curated by Maite Borjabad for the FAD (Foment de les Arts i del Disseny) / D-Hub, which proposes to decipher through artistic, creative and design practices the intricacies in the production of social norms, beliefs or aesthetic imaginaries and with them their implication in the production of otherness. Whether through language and representation, gender or race categorizations, memory models and historiographies or even disciplinary definitions, the definition of “the normal” and thus of everything that falls into “the other” consolidates the construction of otherness. With Khyam Allami’s sound research as a framework of thought, over a series of three consecutive sessions we will be addressing questions that start from sonic systems and expand into concerns around language, translations and their intricacy in a framework of thought, the systematization of tools and orders of thought and representation, among other aspects. 

Practical information:

The meetings next Monday 27, Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 will be organized around readings, listening sessions and some more practical sessions focused on sound, which is the core of Khyam Allami’s practice, but artists and researchers who do not necessarily work in this medium are absolutely welcome. There will be conversations and sessions around technical tools, but no prior technical knowledge is required. The goal is to form an interdisciplinary group that welcomes both sound and visual artists as well as researchers in the fields of language, critical studies, design and any context that takes a critical look at technology. The sessions will be conducted primarily in English, although collective translation assistance can be facilitated at specific times if necessary.

The meetings will be held on
Monday, May 27th – From 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 to 6 pm
Tuesday, May 28th – From 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 6pm
Wednesday, May 29th – From 10 am to 1 pm
Place: Ricson Room, Hangar

Free activity for a maximum group of 15 people and attendance for three days is required.
You can register by filling out this form, before Monday, May 20th.

Khyam Allami is an Iraqi-British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, researcher, and founder of Nawa Recordings. His artistic research and practice explore experimental composition and improvisation based on and inspired by the fundamentals of Arabic music and culture. Recent works include A Relational Music (rehearsal), multichannel sound installation celebrating the legacy of Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid for the Contemporary Art Centre, Cincinnati (US); Requiem for the 21st Century, an immersive Oud-based installation for Opera North (UK); Ma-a aba ud mena gin Ma-a di-di-in, a string quartet for JACK quartet (US); and Apotome, a collaborative project with Counterpoint Studio which was awarded the inaugural Isao Tomita Special Prize at Ars Electronica (AT). Allami holds a BA and Masters in Ethnomusicology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (UK), and a PhD in experimental Arabic music composition from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University (UK).

Maite Borjabad is an independent curator, architect and researcher. Her work revolves around various forms of critical spatial practices that span visual art, performance and architecture. Having worked for the past eight years as a curator at major cultural institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Art Institute of Chicago, she describes her curatorial practice as an “institutional infiltration” that takes place at the intersection of these disciplines, as well as museum studies and institutional critique. Her practice has developed through working with collections in these institutions leading acquisition strategies, as well as exhibitions including among others: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rhame: If only this mountain between us could be ground to dust (Art Institute of Chicago, 2021); My Building, Your Design: Seven Portraits by David Hartt (Art Institute of Chicago, 2019) or the performance commissioned to Cecilia Bengolea, Danza de las Materialidades Mutantes (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022). Her most recent projects include the exhibition and year-long programming Clima Fitness: Rituals of Adaptability and Mutations and Planetary Mutualisms (Matadero Madrid, July 2023–July 2024) and the exhibition A Permanent Nostalgia for Departure (Contemporary Arts Center – Cincinnati, September 2023–January 2024).

Organized in collaboration with FAD (Foment de les Arts i del Disseny).

Image: Rowland Thomas/Opera North 2019

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