new videos: Metabody on TVE2 and my talk in Madrid

Fresh from Metabody Madrid . . .

steven r. hammer

This summer, I participated in the Metabody project in Madrid, presenting my own research, collaborating with some outstanding international artists and thinkers, and learning so much from so many.

Earlier today, the Spanish television station TVE2 featured the Metabody project in the program “La Aventura del Saber.”

Watch it here.

You can also watch a number of presentations and performances from the conference here.

Finally, you can watch my presentation @ Metabody below:::::

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Call for Works: Music, Embodiment and the Body

Colchester New Music (in collaboration with the Sonic Arts Forum) have put out a call for works that respond to the theme ‘Music, Embodiment and the Body.’


Works should be submitted by 30th September 2013. Selected works will be shown in Colchester on 2-3rd November 2013. Click on the image to see further details.

[CFP] Metabody: call for papers and projects in metaperformance


Call for papers and projects for the first events of the ongoing 5-year metabody research project. Please see the calls below.


Metabody Conference Series 1 – Metahuman/Metaformance Studies 2013:


Multiplicities in Motion:

Affects, Embodiment and the Reversal of Cybernetics.
3.000 Years of Posthuman History

26-31st July 2013 in Medialab Prado in Madrid
Organised by: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid & Reverso

Keynote by Dr. N. Katherine Hayles – Duke University

DEADLINE: 10th June




MetamediaLab 2013 – Metabody Project – Call for Projects


MetamediaLab – Metabody Project 2013
Bodynet – How to make a network of bodies
24th-31st July 2013 in Medialab Prado in Madrid

DEADLINE: 10th June

Metabody Conference Series is part of the Metahuman/Metaformance Studies programme of the Metabody Project, that embraces the series of PRESENTATIONS taking part in more than 25 events in more than 15 cities of 11 countries. Metahuman makes reference to the Metahumanist Manifesto, by Jaime del Val and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, as alternative to posthumians and transhumanism. Metaformance points to the redefinition of perception and relations as form-independent process.

MetamediaLab is the nomadic WORKSHOP module of the Metabody Project

The metabody project is a collaboration of a European consortium of research and culture laboratories including STEIM.

[Event] Music and Movement Symposium

Tuesday 11th June 2013, 1:00pm – 5:30pm
Durham University
Concert Room, Department of Music, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL, UK

Keynote speaker – Professor Rolf Inge Godøy, University of Oslo

The symposium aims to bring together researchers engaged in exploring motion and gesture in music. Papers to be presented offer cross-cultural perspectives on the relationship between movement and music, and are informed by embodied cognition and phenomenological paradigms. We are delighted to announce that Professor Rolf Inge Godøy, from the University of Oslo, and Professor Martyn Evans from Durham University will be speaking at the event.

Session 1
1:00 – Josephine Miles (Durham University)
‘The embodiment of rhythm and metre in a performance of Bartok’s Contrasts’

1:30 – Yinyun Shi (Durham University)
‘Exploring interconnectedness: gestural interaction between storytellers and audience members in Suzhou ping-tan’

2:00 – Lara Pearson (Durham University)
‘Coarticulation and motor grammar in Karnatak music’

2:30pm – Tea/coffee break

Session 2
2:50 – Elena Catalano (Durham University)
‘The role of music in kinetic cognition: experiences in Indian classical dance’

3:20 – Professor Martyn Evans (Durham University)
‘Motion or emotion? – Music in the body’

4:00pm – Tea/coffee break

Keynote speech
4:15 – 5:30 – Professor Rolf Inge Godøy (University of Oslo)
‘Coarticulation in the production and perception of music’

All are welcome to attend the event. Booking is not required.
For more information contact Lara Pearson at

[Event] Resonant Bodies: Landscapes of Acoustic Tension

ICI Berlin
13-15 June 2013


When a solid body meets its natural resonant frequency, it violently vibrates and breaks into pieces. What happens when the human body meets its resonant frequencies? Mostly a combination of soft tissue and water, the human body is not one solid object. It includes a variety of molecules each of which has a different resonant frequency. Yet the soft tissue and water do not allow these molecules to be completely destroyed. Instead, the human body’s liquidity and elasticity perpetuate the fundamental principle of acoustic resonance: holding a multitude of similar frequencies neither as precisely same nor as perfectly different. For the very same reason perhaps, the human body is involved in a constant reciprocity with its sonic environment. Knowingly or unknowingly, it vibrates with multiple other bodies. Without any necessary physical contact, it matches its resonant frequencies from a distance. Acoustic resonance draws a particular proximity between one’s physical location and his/her phenomenal extension to another.

Consider this proximity acoustic tension, a case of mental distance despite the physical closeness, and equally, a case of mental closeness despite the physical distance. Then picture acoustic resonance as a landscape of acoustic tension, a horizontal spectrum of multiple modalities of sounds, which do coincide with one another but which do not necessarily become one. The very act of hearing holds the acoustic tension. When we hear a sound, we are simultaneously moved to and positioned in a place. What happens if acoustic tension is heightened, if we pay close attention to the intensity and volume of sound? What would be the material effects of such sonic embodiment in everyday life? What kind of subjectivity does it enact? What kind of an epistemology does acoustic tension evoke, mirror and transform? And how do our resonant bodies function in understanding the self’s relation to its external world? The symposium will explore these questions by marking three landscapes of acoustic tension: sensory ecologies of hearing, materiality of voice, language and speech, and affective states of sound.

The conference is organised by Zeynep Bulut (ICI Berlin), Claudia Peppel (ICI Berlin), and Brandon LaBelle (Bergen Academy of Art and Design).

[Event] Royal Musical Association Annual Conference 2013

This year’s RMA conference includes a panel on music and dance that might be of interest to some readers of this blog.

Panel: Crossing the Audio-Visual Divide: Music and Dance in Dialogue

Helen Julia Minors (Kingston University), convenor, ‘Music in Motion: Proposing a Gestural and Spatial Analysis of Music-Dance Works’

Stephanie Jordan (Roehampton University), ‘Arguments and Conversations: Music and Dance and the Work of Mark Morris’

Lawrence Zbikowski (Chicago University), ‘Music and Dance: An Embodied Dialogue’

Steffi Schroedter (Free University Berlin), respondent

The conference will be held at the Institute of Musical Research in London from Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st September 2013.

Immaterial and Sonic Bodies

A few hours after writing yesterday’s post, in which I mentioned Lisa Blackman’s book Immaterial Bodies, I chanced across a video of her talking about some of the ideas she writes about. It’s a happy find because I wasn’t searching for anything particularly related to the book (I was looking for a video of Philip Glass’s music on Sesame Street, if you must know!). What makes it even better is that Blackman is joined by Julian Henriques, author of Sonic Bodies.


“This talk explores two examples of immaterial communication. One is sound waves, as the energetic disturbance of a medium. The other is automaticity as the sense a person has of being directed by someone or something else, human or non-human. Popular conceptions of the immaterial suggest that the imperceptible, the invisible and the ethereal are often aligned to the occult, supernatural and haunting. Ideas about sound are associated on the one hand with embodied affects, drives, entrainment, rhythmic compulsion, as well as on the other the sublime and the ethereal. The session is presented as a dialogue between Julian Henriques’ work on sonic bodies (2011) which draws on the ways of knowing of the Jamaican reggae sound system engineers, and Lisa Blackman’s work on voice hearing, suggestion, and telepathy (2001; 2012) which draws on imaginary media such as telepathy and hypnotism at the start of the 20th century. In line with the turn to affect, the talk will purpose the idea of the immaterial for a discussion of voicing, hauntings, the virtual, atmpospheres, the subliminal, or even transliminal.”


transitional thoughts + genealogies


As I write this I’m sitting on a metal bench on a snowy West Yorkshire station platform. I have a bit too much baggage, too many books. Recently most of my weekends have been spent on trains, dashing from here to there, caught up between work and the various places that may or may not be home.

Today I’m trying to read Lisa Blackman’s Immaterial Bodies so that I can finish an article I’m working on and publishpublishpublish my way into a more permanent academic career. I flip back to the first few pages. Since finishing my PhD I’ve taken to reading authors’ acknowledgements and admonishing myself for the hash that I made of it in my thesis (mainly because there were far, far more people deserving heart-felt ‘thank you’s than I managed to name there). As I read I’m struck by something Blackman writes:

The inter-disciplinarity that was characteristic of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is one that I carry through today such that my own disciplinary location is far from settled. However, I have found an intellectual home at Goldsmiths, University of London in the Department of Media and Communications since 1994 . . .

This has a certain resonance for me, mainly because, like Blackman’s, my research does not fit into one easily-labelled discipline. I am far from settled in art as well as in life. In my viva the examiners asked me where I would shelve my thesis if I worked in a university library. I responded to their question with jokes about how I do work in a university library and I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial sharp stick an argument that I would like to see it in the 780s (780.1?), even if some scholars might argue it doesn’t quite belong there. But this masks a sense that this is in fact a deeper concern for me. Like Blackman, I think I am the kind of scholar who will find an intellectual home in a particular department or research group rather than in any one subject as a whole.

Later in the book Blackman considers the idea of intellectual genealogies, and I’m reminded that sometimes it’s important to remember where I come from as well as where I’d like to be going. Thinking through answers to the question ‘where do I come from?’ is perhaps another way of thinking about home. Put like that, a sort of disciplinary family tree, then I am perhaps more aligned to musicology than a simple description of some of my current work might reveal. Though it’s also hard to forget that somewhere in my scholarly-DNA I’ve inherited more than a few attributes from my inter-disciplinary beginning at Dartington College of Arts.

DCA has gone, merged, changed. I’m still looking for home.  I hope I will find a similarly stimulating and creative intellectual home elsewhere, but I still feel the gentle tug of the tide in South Devon. No doubt like many aspiring academics, I’ve been wondering if there‘s a way I can have both. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started to think more about how home and my desire for an academic job intersect, to consider whether I’d be willing to live and work anywhere for the elusive full-time contract. Increasingly the answer is, ‘no’.  Don’t get me wrong; I’d love an academic job, but it has to be the right one.

Until now I was too willing to write off the alternatives because of the widely-held attitude that anything less than a full-time lectureship or research fellowship is a failure, something that marks out a lesser mind. Of course, financial considerations have to be taken into account too, and I’m no supporter of the way the system seems to be shifting towards contingent labour (an excess of short-term, part-time, or even zero hours contracts can’t be good for either academic staff or their students). My career-making, I suspect, will be magpie-like; some leaves from here, twigs from there. I’ll do my best to steal the opportunities that will make it sparkle. Perhaps it’s worth moving back to a geographical home, too. Maybe my nesting would be better-served by the metaphor of putting down roots and then branching out.

[CFP] TaPRA 2013 | Embodied Engagement: Participatory And Immersive Performance

Performance and the Body Working Group // Performance and New Technologies Working Group

University of Glasgow and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS)
4th- 6th September 2013


The Performance and the Body and Performance and New Technologies Working Groups are joining forces this year to explore different bodily, aesthetic, political, ethical and economical aspects of participation in the current performance milieu. In a performance context where hierarchies of participation are being reconfigured and traditional authorial claims are under stress, new articulations of spectator/performer reciprocity can no longer be disregarded. Focusing on audience experience, we intend to examine possibilities of participant (spectators and performers) agency and empowerment within different modes of performance transaction.
According to Adrian Heathfield, contemporary performance has shifted aesthetically from ‘the optic to the haptic, from the distant to the immersive, from the static relation to the interactive’. The dialogue between the two Working Groups aims to explore the productive tensions between bodies and technologies in the development of this shift. The contested term ‘immersive’ is a rich, under-theorized concept which pulls in and works across distinct constituencies of performance. It calls upon diverse technologies to create its performance environments and promote active bodily engagement. Immersion both as an artistic intention and a perceived process is identified with concepts of viscerality, authenticity and immediacy. Yet the question remains as to how effective immersion can be in engaging audiences mentally, emotionally and corporeally.
Proposals do not need to address both issues of bodies and technologies, but might consider the following issues, though these are not exclusive:

* The bodily risk of participation
* Immersive practices as a democratisation of performance
* Spectator’s authority, authorship and agency in immersive performances
* Discomfort and fear: the ethics of enforced participation
* Sensory inscribed experiences: synaesthetic experiments of flesh
* Soundscapes: the corporeality of immersion
* Ethics of immersion in locative games, mobile interfaces, social media platforms
* Mapping and constructing hybrid, artificial and mixed-media spaces
* Temporalities of immersion
* Embodiment/Disembodiment: game space and everyday life
* Cognitive engagement: willing suspension of disbelief in performance
* ‘Passive’ and ‘active’ audiences
* Political contexts of participatory work
* Empathy and audience engagement
* Intentionality and sensual experience

Please send a 300 word proposal, a short biographical statement, and an outline of technical requirements by 29th April 2013 to the working groups convenors.
Proposals, if accepted, may be directed into a range of presentational formats: traditional panels (with 20 minute papers); pre-circulated papers that form the basis for a short presentation and discussion; or, where appropriate, performance-based panels. While we welcome statements of preference, final decisions will be made by the working groups convenors and will be indicated at the time of acceptance.
We welcome alternative, practice-as-research or performative proposals that engage rigorously with the theme, but these must be achievable with limited resources and within a 20-30 minute time period.The convenors of the Performance and the Body Working Group are James Frieze and Lib Taylor. The convenors of the New Technologies Working Group are Martin Blain, Maria Chatzichristodoulou, and Eirini Nedelkopoulou.


[Event] Performance Studies Network Second International Conference

4-7 April 2013
Cambridge University

The more musicologically-inclined of you might be interested in some of the papers at the upcoming Performance Studies Network Second International Conference. Particularly:

Nicholas Cook: The Signifying Body: Hendrix, 31 August 1970, 2am
Marilyn Wyers: Shaping phrase: exploring dance movement-supported learning and advanced pianistic training
Linda T. Kaastra and David Kirsh: Embodied creativity in bassoon performance
Murphy McCaleb: Embodied Knowledge: the case of ensemble performance
Naomi Waltham-Smith: Modelling touch in musical performance using the iPad
Mats Kussner: How musicians’ and non-musicians’ approaches to gestural representations of sound and music differ: findings from a motion-capture experiment

Abstracts are available in the conference programme.