Sound Footprint: Our Trash Remixed

The Red Room’s 8-Year Anniversary was an amalgam of imaginaries. Artistic luminaries gathered to share their creations with a global audience of wanderers, families, kindred spirits and community members. Navigating the rich intersections of painting, music, writing and dance, the Red Room led the way in an explosively inclusive and vibrantly warm festival of experiences.

As one of the participating artists, my partner Jonathan Sherman and I blended together the sounds of trash with environmental awareness. Our goal was to bring to light people’s respective waste footprints, using sound. The concept began with the realization that while you can look away from waste, you can’t turn your ear away from it; you can still hear it, even if you can’t see it, and therefore, you can musically understand your contribution to the waste ecosystem.

To reach this goal, we set up a trash station outside the entrance to the Red Room featuring five different bins composed of multiple categories– plastic, paper, food waste, glass, and landfill. Before people were allowed to “throw” out their waste, they had to make a sound with their rubbish. Crumpling paper, squishing plastic, shaking tea leaves out of a tea pot– many different types of sounds were collected as Jonathan turned on the microphone he designed and caught the sounds. All noises were then looped in an algorithmic-fashion, building the sound of trash via the individual sounds using what was captured.

We did this experiment twice and brought the “trash soundtrack” into the Red Room to stimulate conversation over trash, discuss proper sorting techniques and inspire the kids to sort, recycle, make music, and ultimately reduce of single-waste items.

Our signs for the exhibit were also made from Lovely Taiwan’s recycled materials, a nonprofit organization that collects bins of sorted, cleaned and separated waste for reuse by the public in any shape, way or form.

We are thankful for the opportunity to educate, inform and hopefully inspire using the sound of musical trash in the exhibition
Sound Footprint: Our Trash Remixed.

Lillygol Sedaghat
Storyteller, Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship
University of California, Berkeley | Political Economy, 2014

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