Collisions of Memory, Voice, Sound, and Physicality though a Multi-sensorial Radio Remix Installation
(John Cabot University)
Debra Vidali (Emory University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses the collision of the tactile and the sonic, and discusses how sonic frontiers are exploited and transgressed in the "Kabusha Radio Remix," an ethnographic sound installation that repurposes archived audio recordings from the popular Radio Zambia program, Kabusha Takolelwe Bowa.
Paper long abstract:
The ethnographic installation "Kabusha Radio Remix," repurposes Bemba language recordings from the archived audio recordings from one of Radio Zambia's most popular programs, Kabusha Takolelwe Bowa (a Bemba proverb meaning "The Person Who Inquires First, Is Not Poisoned by a Mushroom"). In the program, host David Yumba answered listeners' letters about politics, society, family, and current events, as they were read out aloud by co-host Emelda Yumbe. Central to the installation is a reengineered 60-minute Kabusha "radio program" that mimics its original format. This version, however, activates the archived voice of the late sage Yumba, juxtaposing Yumba's recorded responses as answers to present-day inquiries about politics, the technicalities of archives, current Zambian and global politics. This multimedia paper addresses the collision of the tactile and the sonic, and discusses how sonic frontiers are exploited and transgressed in the engineered sound mix and via visitors' engagements with the installation, inviting visitors to "encounter voices and images from the past in a technological space that is both historical and contemporary" (Stoller 2015). Archives typically operate as "assertions of authority… producing and enforcing encoded pasts" and exist by nature as "incomplete utterance [where] its success requires the absence of memory" (Campbell, et al. 2015). This multimedia paper addresses how the installation counters this absence by reinforcing a connection to historical memory and works as a digital hypertext to analog ephemera, and how issues of subject agency, immortality, translation, wisdom, ownership, truth, and the media-democracy relationship are thrown into bold relief.
Bodies of Archives/Archival Bodies