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Home / Nina Sun Eidsheim, "Air-Animated: Site-Specific Acoustics, Opera, and the Late Stage of Gentrification in Downtown Los Angeles, 2013"

Nina Sun Eidsheim, "Air-Animated: Site-Specific Acoustics, Opera, and the Late Stage of Gentrification in Downtown Los Angeles, 2013"

When Nov 21, 2014
from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where Wright 101 (Lab A)
Contact Name
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Please join Performance Studies, Music, Science & Technology Studies (STS), and Women & Gender Studies for a talk by Nina Sud Eidsheim (Musicology, UCLA).

Abstract: Over the last decades, much has been said and written about urban renewal and gentrification in Los Angeles. However, the issues addressed have been associated with the types of sounds present or created and musics played. My paper examines the process of opera in relation to downtown Los Angeles’ gentrification. More specifically, drawing on Tim Choy’s and Ben Anderson’s notion of the “atmospheric” and “air politics,” I address the ways in which considering the very acoustic part of the soundscape can offer entry into understanding of the process of gentrification. That is, the listening into the acoustic realization of sound and the reverberation of distinct space can give evidence into broader and deeper shifts in the space’s value, otherwise often difficult to discern. I do so by considering director Yuval Sharon and sound designer Martin Gimenez setting of Invisible Cities (composed by Christopher Cerrone) within Union Station’s waiting hall and courtyard. While each singer sang within the everyday soundscape and acoustics of the station, their voices were treated with a thorough sound design and offered up to audiences via wireless headphones. This partial interaction and selectively available product marks a project of “upgrading” the Los Angeles downtown acoustic soundscape—a process, I propose, that can be understood as an indicator of the late stage of gentrification.

Nina Sun Eidsheim is on the faculty of the UCLA Department of Musicology. As a scholar and singer she investigates the multi-sensory and performative aspects of the production, perception and reception of vocal timbre of twentieth and twenty-first century music. She is currently working on these ideas and repertoires in two monograph projects entitled Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice (forthcoming, Duke University Press) and Measuring Race: Listening to Vocal Timbre and Vocality in African-American Popular Music. She is also co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies and a special issue on voice and materiality for the journal, Postmodern Culture. In addition, she is the principal investigator for the UC-wide, transdisciplinary research project entitled Keys to Voice Studies: Terminology, Methodology, and Questions Across Disciplines.

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