Constituting States, is a real-time generative work for vocals & electronics, spatialized for 8 speaker array, commissioned by the San Diego Art Institute, for the exhibit (Con)Text, July 2015.

 

Constituting States is composed to challenge our concepts of statehood, and its perceived solidity. A state is a particular condition, in a specific time. It is also understood to be a nation or territory organized by a political body. But what constitutes statehood? Ultimately, it is modulating entities: evolving, transforming matter that is ever changing. Thus it is fair to posit that an understanding of statehood must also include considerations of flow, transition and the ephemeral. Inspired, in part, by Who Sings the Nation State, a conversation between theorists Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak that begs us to consider political statehood as a condition, nation, or territory, Constituting States is an exploration of the construction and deconstruction of state.

 

The piece utilizes the Star Spangled Banner, the U.S. national anthem and an emblem of the nation state, to query construction, deconstruction and reconstructions of state. The anthem is sung in various languages, reflecting the changing composition of the U.S. population. In this iteration, algorithms are engaged to emphasize the evolving bodies that comprise statehood, such as a flocking algorithm built upon Craig Reynolds behavioral models of separation, alignment and cohesion, which drives the spatialization of the work. With the evanescent voice as its main material, and real-time compositional generation as its form, Constituting States invites the listener to engage with the illusory and impermanence, conditions of every state, through its continuously modulating form.

 

* This sample is mixed for stereo, however the work is composed for an 8-channel array.