Astromusicology, Saturday, March 9, 2019, 9:30am-12:30pm, Studio B (Wood basement)

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Saturday, March 9, 2019, 9:30am, Installation, Studio B (Wood basement)

Learning the sonic spiritual navigation techniques of the Maxineans: An Astromusicological encounter with the auditory landscapes of M9

Ritwik Banerji
the Maxineans

Ritwik Banerji / astromusicologist and installation artist
the Maxineans / research participant and guides in the spiritual navigation of sonic landscapes

In a deep region of outer space, M9, an ephemeral being known as “Maxine” has corrupted the laws of physics such that all sound was always already motion. Inhabitants of this realm, the Maxineans, have evolved to the strange audiokinetic physics of this region of space through a variety of sociocultural practices which actively exploit this unusual way of getting around, getting along, and comprehending life in sound-as-motion, motion-as-sound. Previously uncontacted, astromusicological researchers have made contact with these beings since late 2012. Since then, they have been continually been redeveloping an ethnographic study of the unique modalities of audiokinetic culture practiced by a variety of Maxineans.

One of the main problems of the study of such a remote culture manifests itself in the fact that the basic task of getting around is completely stymied by the ways in which Maxine has redefined physics. Whereas propulsion seems to work in other parts of the universe, it’s “Newton be damned!” for the Maxineans, who can’t seem to move an inch without reaching into the soul of their sonic selves first. As a result, astromusicologists have had to learn to navigate M9 as the Maxineans do: through sound.
In the form of an interactive audio-visual installation, this temporary exhibition provides earthling visitors with an opportunity to engage in a cross-cultural, extraterrestrial encounter with the Maxineans and their deep-space arts of movement. Participants are invited to experiment with the local navigational techniques of M9’s inhabitants through exploration of an environment designed by a band of Maxineans under the leadership of Jabbo Irã, a Maxinean expert in the arts of architecture for improvisers. In real time, sounds captured in the earthling space are directly transmitted to the deep space region of M9. As a result of the physics of this region, such sounds then enable visitors to remotely propel and steer the motion of a local craft in deep space.

Your participation is integral to the success of the astromusicological endeavor! For various reasons, the Maxineans have grown tired of the current team of astromusicological researchers and continually request that earthlings send new emissaries, particularly when candidate researchers prove to be inept in sonic navigation. Given the lethargy of modern academic institutions, which only poorly and inequitably makes use of the planet’s intellectual potential, it has been difficult to find new research collaborators. More importantly, we have noted that the Maxineans evince radically different conceptions of their realm depending upon the nature of the researcher’s soul. Thus it is so kind of you to participate in this work of transcelestial understanding!

A Note From the Maxineans:

Dear Earthlings,

It is kind of you to liberate us from these idiot researchers who have burdened us with their imbecile presence and inane questions. We welcome you!
What we are confident that you will comprehend without greater handholding is the following, the words of our great ancestors upon finally comprehending the doom and joy brought upon us by Maxine:

In our world, the only way to move is to reach inside the soul of your sound.
Failure to do so brings death and suffering.
Success brings only further discovery and self-knowledge.
The better you sound, the more you’ll see.


The Maxineans of Jabbo Irã

Ritwik Banerji is a social scientist of music, interactive media artist, and improvising saxophonist. He holds a doctoral degree in astromusicology from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the design of virtual performers of free improvisation and subjecting these systems to the critique of human improvisers as a means of eliciting their commentary on the phenomenology of social interaction in this practice.

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