McGill Colloquium 2021

Echoes of a Distance: Music, Protest and Community in Confined Times

November 19-20, 2021

How can sound and music participate in protest without access to the streets and spaces of collective music creation? How does a collective sound when there is no actual gathering possible? Alternatively, when social movements take to the streets or occupy a territory despite public health regulations – as has happened on many occasions around the globe since the beginning of the pandemic (Black Lives Matter, Wet’suwet’en resistance, Belarus, Poland, Chile, Myanmar, The Netherlands, to mention only few) – what has changed on a sonic level? How can sound and music testify to the ways our current isolation has affected our capacity to collectively organize? And in this context, what can sound-based practices grounded in improvisation bring to the ongoing social and political struggles?

In order to understand the political impact of the potentialities opened up by music creation in times of curfews and restrictions on the assembly of physical bodies, the International Institute of Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at McGill University invites researchers and creators to contribute to two days of study November 19-20, 2021.

There is a growing interest in the relations between music, sound and social resistance in varied artistic, academic and activist milieus (Fischlin & Heble 2020, Gendron-Blais 2020, Labelle 2018, Rector & Ernest 2017, Born, Lewis & Straw 2017, DeLaurenti 2016). But the eruption of the pandemic has shaken many of the assumptions underlying these relations. This international online event aims to address how our new global situation is affecting how sound and social resistance relate.

We conceive of music, protest and community very widely, and accordingly think of this event as a meeting point for artists, activists and academics to reflect and share perspectives on these issues. Potential topics of research may include, but are not limited to:

• Social impacts of the strategies of collective music creation during lockdown;
• Sonic dimension of demonstrations in the COVID-era;
• Music creation inspired by/related to social movements in times of confinement;
• Political significance of soundscapes emptied of their human presences;
• Telematic performances motivated by social and political struggles;
• Affective dimensions of imposed distancing, on a sonic and political level;
• The transformation of the perceptual modalities of sound in relation to the pandemic;

Following the interdisciplinary mission of IICSI, the event welcomes conventional text-based communications, research-creation projects, performances and artworks of various forms, and various hybrid propositions between these poles.

Proposals (in English or in French) should include a short bio (250 words max.) and an abstract and/or a presentation of the artistic project (500 words max). Any project that does not only include text-based presentations should also provide links giving access to excerpts of the work to be presented (or, if the proposed work have not been presented yet, to previous work in a similar media). Please include the proposed duration of your contribution, recognizing that there will be limited time for the whole event, and that we hope to minimize “Zoom burnout” on the part of participants and attendees.

Deadline for proposal: May 28

Proposals should be sent by email to Eric Lewis ([email protected]) and Hubert Gendron-Blais ([email protected]), with the mention “Echoes of a Distance” in the title.

Note: If public health guidelines and related logistical concerns allow, there may be the possibility of having some live presentations.