This essay considers the role of sound, as in spoken voice, in two multimedia memorials to individuals killed by violence in the United States. The first is Remembering the Dead, a memorial to victims of mass shootings from the 1880s to the present. The second is Say Their Names, a memorial to victims of police violence and brutality. The use of sound (the speaking aloud of victims' names) in both these installations is meant to create and extend a space, a temporary autonomous zone that offers—through thoughtful listening to the names of victims spoken aloud—perceptual, phenomenological, and sensory engagements with the act of remembrance to provide witness and memorial for those killed and to promote meaningful social and civic justice to stop the killings. In this regard, both projects were conceived and developed as media activism.
Remembering the Dead and Say Their Names: The Role of Sound in Two Multimedia Memorials as Media Activism
John F. Barber, PhD, convenes with the Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. His scholarship, teaching, and creative endeavors combine digital media art, digital humanities, and sound. Learn more at Barber's portfolio website: www.nouspace.net/john/index.html. Temporality, combined with a long-standing interest in sound as the basis for narrative, provides the conceptual framework for Barber's research and practice in radio and sound art. His work has been broadcast internationally and featured in juried exhibitions in America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and United Arab Emirates. Barber developed and maintains Radio Nouspace (www.radionouspace.net), a curated listening gallery/virtual museum for sound featuring curated historical and experimental radio+audio drama, radio+sound art, sound poetry, and experimental music. He also produces and hosts Re-Imagined Radio, which explores sound-based storytelling as live performances, radio broadcasts, listening events, live-stream and on-demand audio, and beyond. Learn more at www.reimaginedradio.net.
John F. Barber; Remembering the Dead and Say Their Names: The Role of Sound in Two Multimedia Memorials as Media Activism. Resonance 1 September 2021; 2 (3): 427–432. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2021.2.3.427
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