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Sirmadamsir: Oriented Performativity or What Does Judy Want?, 2019

7 minUTES, stereo sound

HearSay International Audio Art Prize: Best Radio/Sound Art 2019

Sirmadamsir: Oriented Performativity is a work for thinking about the demarcation of bodies and our geographies. It speculates on how the indexing of gender and sexuality may be reconfigured through our intimacies with recognition software and speech-based communication technologies.


I produced this piece with the view to express an entanglement of loose ends (below) - interrelated thoughts I have accumulated through my practice-based research, books I have been reading, cities I have spent time in, conversations about love and aliens, and the sounds and music I have been listening to. 
This work stems from an ongoing inquiry, which began through my considerations of the delineation between “inside" and “outside" and other binary divisions associated with the body. This work considers mechanisms used in the production, erasure and transformation of sovereign states and bodily borders; the movement of bodies in and through the dimensions of geographic and virtual space. 


Sirmadamsir: Oriented Performativity explores an ongoing fascination with synthetic voices; human-glitch-bot-stutter-ambiguous-awkward-aural-non-normative-presentation. The work features recordings produced by an iterative digital recording/playback methodology. These recordings are threaded with field recordings from time spent in New York (NYC).

The work is bookended with an excerpt of an electric piano piece, which was (re)recorded multiple times through a series of digital to cassette tape conversions. The work considers the tactility and inherently nonlinear process of analogue recording, the materiality of the recording medium itself, and what is revealed and shifted through the repeated process of translating a recording from digital to analogue (and back again). The work begins with a reversed iteration of the cassette recording, once the reversed iteration is 2/3 through its duration it is met with the original recording. These two pieces of music then begin to produce indeterminable loops; recurring pitch and rhythm follow a non-linear sequence that is layered upon itself. This tonal drifting is the melodic home of the piece. 


​The stars gaze.

They hear us rising to our rituals.

Each morning oriented in the tin rectangle. Confirming our geographies, cutting space. Participating in the performance of continuity.


PUSHING / SWIPING / SCROLLING / FEEDING SPACETIMEMATTERING ... reinforcing the margins of the stage.


The star’s gaze punctures the ceiling.

Unit three of twenty-eight.

Terracotta tiles, plasterboard to the face. Through the bed portal they gaze at my flesh-fastened existence:

to the room wherein my desire oriented me toward you,

to the city wherein my listening skin is thinking of you, listening in your skin,

to earth, wherein you reminded me (that) we're are living in outer space,

to the place where I realised, that you were oriented toward the stars.   


Sara Ahmed’s essay, Orientations: Toward a Queer Phenomenology, has been a formative contributor in shaping ideas for this work. Ahmed suggests that ‘bodies as well as objects take shape through being oriented toward each other, as an orientation that may be experienced as the cohabitation or sharing of space".


Holding human-computer ID together with notions of orientation questions what affects arise from intimately orienting our bodies toward digital technologies and how might this influence our desires and our performative behaviours



This work is interested in the accessibility of power mechanisms and the critique of dichotomous relations, particularly those which are defined by an organising structure of negative absence. It explores the reorganisation of these forms of difference, their inter-relatedness and the tools, technologies and applications that can be exercised in rethinking their relations. Particularly, the conventional categorisation/s associated with the term


The opening passage of this work is for thinking about the confirmation of humanity. The design was initially prompted by reCAPTCHAs – (/kæp.tʃə/, Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart).


The archetypal sovereign subject - Man - has historically acted as the primary measurer; to verify, categorise and confirm the humanity of others through relational and negative difference. Sirmadamsir: Oriented Performativity questions how machine interaction, performed through recognition software, may affect the way humans are identified in socio-political settings and possibly facilitate power-shifts between humans and non-humans. 


At times, the verification of a person's humanity is contingent on specific markers of identity, i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, geo-cultural background. Vinay Shet, Product Manager of reCAPTCHA Google, suggested that "you don't have to verify your identity to verify your humanity". Sirmadamsir: Oriented Performativity speculates on whether authentication and recognition softwares can somewhat negate common practices of categorisation, enabling the verification of a person’s humanity to exist independently of specific identity markers. 

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