Sonic Street Technologies is supporting our partners in Sound System Outernational in organising the seventh SSO symposium; Sound Systems at the Crossroads from the 9th to the 16th of July. Sound System Outernational is a collective of sound system researchers and practitioners working to provide reflective space for sound system culture. Since 2016, SSO has hosted six symposia in London (UK), Kingston (JA), Naples (IT), and Sao Luis Maranhao (Brazil, eventually held online due to the pandemic). These symposia bring together sound system practitioners, researchers, artists, and audiences to share skills and reflections on their work. They feature talks, film screenings, workshops and sound system sessions.
The seventh symposium, being held online, is entitled Sound Systems at the Crossroads and emphasises the challenges facing sound system culture today in the context of the pandemic, but also the increasing repressive legislation, gentrification of cities, the closing down of music venues, and other issues affecting the culture. From the SSO website:
Sound systems are currently at a crossroads despite the unprecedented explosion of the form during the last decades. Sound system culture has gained increasing attention from cultural organisations, the music industry and researchers. But the pandemic has been accelerating trends in both positive and negative directions.
In a positive direction online formats have been encouraging a new inventiveness and creativity in formats and content. A whole new range of opportunities are in the process of opening up for both practitioners and audiences and SSO #7 is part of this process.
In a less positive direction we have all certainly been missing the in-body experience of the sessions that are at the beating heart of sound system culture. The lockdown has silenced the streets worldwide, freezing sound system activities and depriving practitioners and the wider community of their primary source of income.
Even before the pandemic, the increasingly restrictive legislation, the gentrification of cities, the closing down of venues and public spaces, the threat and promise of commercial success, and the further policing of public life have posed a threat to the wellbeing of the culture.
SSO#7, ‘Sound Systems at the Crossroads’ aims to open a space for sound system practitioners, performers and scholars to come together to reflect on the challenges facing the culture today and to discuss which resources the movement can muster to pull through and ensure our continued flourishing.
In SSO#7, we ask, what are the obstacles facing sound systems today, and what kind of solutions can be found for them? In what ways can sound systems build a collective challenge to structures of power in present conditions? How do sound systems respond to the restrictions brought by hostile legislation, a lack of venues, and tightening noise regulations? What strategies have practitioners deployed to sustain themselves and the community when they are not allowed to play out? How has the role played by social media platforms to keep music alive under lockdown conditions affected this auditory, physically shared, street-based culture? How do we imagine the streets after the lockdown? And how do we envision our shared future in its aftermath?”
As a research project, Sonic Street Technologies is committed to a practitioner and community-oriented approach to our work. The SSO symposia are a fantastic example of what this looks like in practice, and we encourage everyone interested in sonic street technologies to join us!
Sign up on Eventbrite here to register to all events and receive regular reminders, and feel free to subscribe to SSO YouTube channel where the sound system sessions will be premiered.
See you online!
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