Around the Corner: New Directions in Caribbean Sound at Rutgers University


The Critical Caribbean Studies Initiative at Rutgers University is hosting a one-day symposium: New Directions in Caribbean Sound. Focusing on the aesthetics and politics of sonic culture within and emanating from the Caribbean, the conference will take place on April 26, 2013, from 9:00am until 7:00pm at the Alexander Library Lecture Hall at the College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The conference will be followed by a reception at the Center for Cultural Analysis (at 8 Bishop Place).

With an introduction by Carter Mathes (Rutgers University) presentations include “The Peninsular Supplement: Florida’s Sound Waves” by Alexandra Vazquez (Princeton University); “Listening to Negritude” by Martin Munro (Florida State University); “Bêtes Noires: Women’s Rap Personas and Beastly Embodiments in France” by Edwin Hill (University of Southern California); “The Acoustics of Diaspora” by Michael E. Veal (Yale University); “The Science of Sound: Learning from the Reggae Sound System Engineers” by Julian Henriques (Goldsmiths, University of London); and “Voice, Language, Radio” by Alejandra Bronfman (University of British Columbia).

The conference also includes a concurrent exhibit: Knots & Donuts sound sculpture by Julian Henriques.

Description (of Knots & Donuts): This work explores auditory geometry – by spatialising sound and sonifying space, as inspired by the work of the audio engineers who design and build the reggae sound systems in Jamaica. As with the acoustic space of the open-air dancehall session, the sound sculpture immerses listeners in the middle of a three-dimensional sound field. Attuning the ‘mind’s ear’ and the auditory imagination, listeners in Knots & Donuts hear a continuous travelling sound ‘drawing’ shapes around them, as a sparkler might do in light. Listeners experience the sensory qualities of acoustic space and time – outside the usual visual conventions. In this particular sculpture, moving sound sources outline circles and several topological shapes including a Borromean Knot and Torus (or donut). The sound sculpture is about 12 minutes in duration.

The moving sound sources are spatialised with state of the art software and diffused over an eight channel sound system. The speakers are positioned as would be the corners of a cube. Knots & Donuts was first installed in the Tate Modern, London, in November 2011 as an event in the Embodying Transformation performance programme designed to give an embodied experience of topological concepts in the Tate Topology speakers’ series, 2011 to 2012 and in the Khoj international artists’ association, New Delhi, India, in March this year.

[This conference was organized by Carter Mathes and the Caribbean Aesthetics, Poetics and Politics Cluster, with the help and co-sponsorship of Carlos Fernández and Center for Latino Arts and Culture.]

For more information, you may contact Carlos Fernández at (848) 932-1284 and see


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