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Where: Harvard Yard
When: ARTS FIRST Festival from April 27-30, 2023
awarded ArtsFirst grant
When we speak, our voices create vibrations that resonate through the minds of listeners and the medium of objects in the room. By storing these vibrational patterns, ordinary objects may thus “remember” an object(ive) history as a complement to listeners’ subjective memories. Musical Chairs reflects on these themes of identity, subjective memory, and oral history, and questions the function of discourse at Harvard and beyond. Through the sonification of social and acoustical phenomena, we connect the improvisational quality of conversation to improvisational music, illuminating the implicit, visceral nature of identity preserved and expressed in spontaneous social exchanges. Then, by using bone conduction speakers to emulate the process of perspective-taking, we illuminate how the creativity, meaning, and productivity of discourse is contingent upon not only asking “who is at the table?” but also actively listening for the answer. More than that, by inverting the competitiveness and exclusivity of its namesake childhood game, we hope that our riff on Musical Chairs fosters a more inclusive and collaborative campus environment for discourse. At once serving as a gathering space, artwork, and sonic archive, Musical Chairs is a setting created from acts of placemaking, highlighting the diverse narrative truths present in every collective of people.