Ernst Karel will present recent and in-progress work made from location recordings, in stereo, quadraphonic, and 5-channel configurations. Work will include: Heard Laboratories (and/OAR 2010) and a 5-channel extension of that project incorporating an electroacoustic interpretation by the Chicago Sound Map ensemble; a piece composed for German radio connected with Swiss mountain transport systems, an eight-channel work in collaboration with Helen Mirra currently on exhibition at Diapason Gallery; current quadraphonic work in progress; and if time allows, experimental ethnographic audio work coming out of the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Discussion might take up the documentary use of nonlinguistic sound to produce ‘doubtful knowing’, in connection with ideas such as anthropologist of sound Steven Feld’s notion of ‘acoustemologies’, or sonic ways of knowing and being in the world, and the recognition (found, for example, in new books by sound theorists Salomé Voegelin and David Toop) that listening is an experience of a continuously fleeting, ungraspable present moment, and as such is “full of phemonemological doubt,” as Voegelin puts it (Listening to Noise and Silence, 2010:4): “The understanding gained is a knowing of the moment as a sensory event that involves the listener and the sound in a reciprocal inventive production.”
Ernst Karel works with analog electronics and with location recordings, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, to create audio pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. His musical biography includes classical trumpet, early-1990s Seattle ‘free noise’, jazz, extended-technique acoustic improvisation, and electronic/electroacoustic improvisation and composition. He performs widely both solo and in various collaborations, has made solo and collaborative sound installations, and his work has been released on and/OAR, Another Timbre, BoxMedia, Cathnor, Dead CEO, Formed, Kuro Neko, Locust, Lucky Kitchen, and Sedimental record labels, among others. Current collaborations include the long-running electroacoustic duo EKG and the New England Phonographers Union. He has worked as a live sound engineer, recordist, and editor at Chicago Public Radio, mixed audio and contributed sound design for nonfiction video. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago, where his fieldwork-based dissertation, Kerala Sound Electricals, was a study in the anthropology of sound. Karel currently manages the Sensory Ethnography Lab and the Film Study Center at Harvard University, where as Lecturer on Anthropology, he also co-teaches courses in media archaeology and ethnographic audio and video production.