Speaker: Kate Galloway
Title: "Listening to (or for/with/as) the Nonhuman Animal Across Digital Screen Media"
Time and Place: Friday, March 31, 5:00 PM, Nabenhauer Recital Hall (Whalen 4308)
This event is free and open to the public.
Description: In this presentation I explore ways of listening to environments and nonhuman representations across digital screen media using two case studies to interrogate sonic online cultural phenomena and human notions of musicality and listening: animal avatar games and musicking animal memes. These include games such as Frogger, Shelter, and Stray and pet social media versions of the “Watermelon Sugar Hi” (Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar”) and “Sometimes I Think About You” (Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves”) remix video meme trends. These are not just animal games and memes that happen to feature sound and music, rather they are digital media that intentionally explore ideas of sounding and listening through practices of remixing, interpreting, and staging the nonhuman. These creative participatory digital environments where animals are curated and dwell call into question the human desire to connect with, perform, and even control the nonhuman animal across digital spaces. And like Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s video installation The Substitute (2019), these digital objects interrogate humanity’s “preoccupation with creating new life forms, while neglecting existing ones” (Ginsberg 2019). Operating at the intersection of multispecies ethnography, digital culture, and platform studies this presentation offers a posthumanist reading of multispecies sonic cultural phenomena in digital games and online media. I argue that multispecies listening, sounding, and playing along “as” and “with” nonhuman digital media–whether that takes the form of playing as an avatar or sharing and circulating an animal musicking meme–articulates the complexity of human-animal relationships, displaces the boundaries between human and other, and articulates ways of listening beyond the human to actual and virtual sensory ecologies.
Bio: Kate Galloway is Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology and Games at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she is cross-appointed to the Music, Electronic Arts, and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences programs. Her research and teaching address sonic responses to environmentalism, sound studies, digital culture and interactive media, and posthuman and animal studies. Her work is published in American Music, The Soundtrack, MUSICultures, Sound Studies, and Popular Music, among other venues. She has co-edited two special journal issues (American Music and Twentieth-Century Music) with K. E. Goldschmitt and Paula Harper that address the creative and social phenomena of internet music communities and practices of listening to the internet. She is co-organizer of the 2021 Taylor Swift Study Day and co-editor of the forthcoming edited collection Taylor Swift: The Star, The Songs, The Fans.