Today’s Sound Studies workshop, “Sound, situated,” has been postponed due to weather conditions– so we thought we’d offer a reflection from one of our previous workshop participants, Sinan Goknur. Here he reflects on the role of listening in his experimental audiovisual composition, “Shared Lines” (below).
The inspiration behind Shared Lines was the 2013 Gezi uprising in Turkey that started against the on-going urban renewal projects and commercialization of public spaces in Istanbul. Real estate and gentrification has been at the heart of the neoliberal economy since its conception in the 80s, starting in cities such as New York. Gentrification is now a widespread phenomenon in and outside of the US, bringing together places like Istanbul, Turkey and Durham, NC in their experiences of displacement, marginalization, and exclusion of populations that get in the way of unbridled real estate profit as well as the rapid commercialization of public and idle spaces.
Globalized injustices highlight the necessity for a new radical internationalism to overcome the challenges spun by globalizing forces, namely the coalition among free market capitalism, militarism, and right-wing conservatism. Shared Lines was a gesture towards identification with a counterpart. It strove to break the distance that one experiences while looking at an image depicting a far away location in the world news and rather aspired to bring the events closer through making them available to the mind’s eye. Sound was a key medium for this, as listening can break open the moments that a visual referent isolates and solidifies by forcing us to continuously envision and re-construct what we hear. Towards this end, six photographs from the Gezi uprising were shown to 10 people living in Durham who were not familiar with the events and they were asked to describe what they saw. Their descriptions were captured in sound and edited in the style of an audio-collage, resulting in detailed and multi-perspective descriptions of each of the six photographs. During the event, artists and audience members alike were invited to listen, imagine, and reconstruct the events from these descriptions and in the meantime become aware that the idle space that they were standing on was in the process of getting demolished and replaced by a commercial condominium complex in a few months’ time.
Sinan Goknur is a Masters student in the Art, Art History, & Visual Studies department at Duke University.