How can the production of sound and practices of listening operate as modes of resistance and rebuilding in times of conflict and crisis?
Countersonics: Radical Sonic Imaginaries is a new series convened by Gascia Ouzounian exploring sonic tactics for building counter-narratives to contested events, spaces, places and communities.
This conversation between Mhamad Safa and Gascia Ouzounian was the first event in the series. The discussion focused on Mhamad Safa’s research as an architect and sound producer, in particular his work on urban acoustics during aerial strikes on Beirut, taking his recently published article Reverberations and Post-War Trauma, 2022 as a point of departure. Together with Ouzounian, Safa discussed his investigation of the role of echo and reverberation in Beirut; as well as post-war trauma and listening cultures in Lebanon.
Mhamad Safa is a sound producer, architect and researcher, based between London and Beirut. His work focuses on the sonic make-ups of multi-scalar spatial and techno-scientific conditions. He explores their intersections with aural traditions, subcultural practices and environments of conflict. He was a fellow at Ashkal Alwan HWP in 2018. He graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is currently a Phd candidate in International Law at the University of Westminster. Safa has shown individual and collaborative artwork and performances at Goethe-Institut Lebanon, Beirut; Arab Center for Architecture, Beirut; the Institute for Contemporary Art, London; the Centre for Research Architecture, London, and the Sharjah Architecture Triennial among others.
Gascia Ouzounian is a sonic theorist and practitioner whose work explores the history of sound technologies; experimental music and sound art; sound and urbanism. Recent projects include Scoring the City; Acoustic Cities: London & Beirut, and the book Stereophonica: Sound and Space in Science, Technology, and the Arts (MIT Press). Ouzounian is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford, where she directs the project Sonorous Cities.
Sonorous Cities: Towards a Sonic Urbanism (SONCITIES) is a research project formed at the intersection of sound, urbanism, and critical spatial practices. The project’s aim is to better understand cities and urban life through a critical investigation of the sonic conditions of cities, and of people’s experiences of urban sound environments; to make critical and creative interventions into urban sound environments; and to support architects, designers and spatial practitioners in embracing sonic modes of urban analysis and design.
Images: Countersonics: Radical Sonic Imaginaries - Mhamad Safa and Gascia Ouzounian in conversation, 8 March 2022, The Showroom, London. Courtesy of The Showroom. Photos: Oana Damir
Countersonics: Radical Sonic Imaginaries is funded by the European Research Council, as part of the project Sonorous Cities (grant no.: 865032).