African Metropole: Sonic City Lagos

This project is the first in a series of gallery-based sound installations using sounds from African cities.
Submitted by

Project Location

Mahwah New Jersey United States of America
Artists Involved

Project Description

This series is a sonic update of the 1920s city symphony films by Rutman, Strand, Vertov and others. The sounds of the Lagos, Nigeria will be the source for this work. Our multi-channel sound installation will make use of a center cluster of speakers and flat panel ultrasonic speakers that will project a narrowly focused and an extremely unidirectional beam of sound. These speakers, placed at key nodes in the gallery, will be mounted on an automated servomechanism and will give the illusion of sound following the participant through the space. The project will also include a mobile app that will allow listeners to stream audio in realtime. We plan to show the first phase of these installations at the Pascal Gallery at Ramapo College, New Jersey.
Project Timeline and Budget

$ 2000   Lagos Travel
$1000    Moving Arms/Control Software/Programming
$1200    Ultrasonic Speakers (two stereo pairs @ $600 each)
$1200    Mobile App Programming & Build
$ 600     Circle Truss (for hanging center speakers)
$ 500     Wall Text
$ 500     Lagos Studio Rental
$ 400     Arced Bench for gallery
$200 -    Cables & Misc Hardware
Total - $7,600

During this period we will conduct more research on the pre-colonial,
colonial, and contemporary issues in each Lagos. We will create a script for the work begin planning
with the hosting institution for the first installation.
We will spend two weeks in Lagos making field recordings and conducting
interviews. Then we will travel to Accra for two weeks interviewing and
making field recordings. While in each city we will meet with artists
and arts organizations to explore ways to partner on this project.
During this month we will work with the Lagos recordings in the studio.
The editing and processing of the Lagos recordings will continue. At this
point we will begin working with the ultrasonic speakers and
experimenting with the automation. Drafting will start for the maze.
We will finalize drafting. We will continue working with the speaker
system and we will start building the work in the studio.
We will finish building the maze and install and test the automated
speaker system. We will document the studio-mounted piece on video.
The work will be crated and instructions will be prepared for a spring exhibition.
The work will be installaed at the Pascal Gallery.
About the Artist(s) Involved

Mendi + Keith Obadike
Art/ Music/ Literature
Obadike Studio 32 Union Square East Suite 310 New York, NY 10003
2005 Duke University,            2004 Yale University, School of Drama
PhD, Literature                      MFA, Sound Design
1995 Spelman College                2001 North Carolina Central University 
BA English, Summa Cum Laude   BA, Fine Art
2010-11    Tribeca Performing Arts Center Residency
2010         New York Foundation of the Arts, Fiction    
2008-09    The Kitchen—Center for Video, Music, Dance, Performance, Film, and Literature
2007-08    Vectors Fellow—University of Southern California (Annenberg Center / Institute for Multimedia Literacy)
2007        Commission, Northwestern University / Pick-Laudati Award for Digital Art
2006        Commission, Franklin Furnace Archive Inc.
2005        Commission, Whitechapel Art Gallery London
2005        Commission, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council / New Museum of Contemporary Art
2004        Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Sound Design
2004        Fellowship, Rockefeller New Media Fellowship
2004        Mellon Mays University Fellows Travel and Research Grant
2003        Commission, New York African Film Festival & Electronic Arts Intermix  
2003        Connecticut Commission on the Arts Award
2003        Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize, Lotus Press
2003        Commission, Lo-fi Net Art (UK)
2003        Gender and Race Research Award, Duke University
2003        Minority Faculty Research Award, Southern Connecticut State University
2002        Commission, Whitney Museum of American Art  
2002        Benjamin Slotznick New Media Award, Yale University
2002        Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art Grant, 2002-2003
2001        Breadloaf’s Bakeless Poetry Book Prize, Finalist
2000        Cave Canem Poetry Fellow, 2000-2002
1999         Distinguished Teaching Fellow, John Hope Franklin Seminars for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, Duke University
1998        John Hope Franklin Documentary Award

2012     African Metropole: 7 Soundscapes – Pascal Gallery, Ramapo College Solo Exhibition
2011      On Screen: Global Intimacy – H & R Block Artspace, Kansas City Art Institute
2010     Echo, Xiang, Eco: Meditations on the African, Andean & Asian Diasporas – Project Row Houses. Houston, TX. curated by William Cordova
2009-2010  On Screen: Global Intimacy –Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
2007-08     Unmonumental – New Museum of Contemporary Art (NY) curated by Massimilano Gioni, Laura Hoptman and Lauren Cornell
2007     Big House / Disclosure – Kresge Hall, curated by Huey Copeland and Krista Thompson
2006     The Carbonist School Study Hall – Eyedrum, curated by Cinqué Hicks and Charles Nelson
2005     Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self – San Diego Museum of Art curated by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis
2005     Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary - The New Art Gallery Walsall
2005         Arte Nuevo Interactiva 05, Central Cultural Olimpo, Merida, Mexico curated by Raul Ferrara-Balanquet
2005          Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), curated by Petrine Archer-Straw, David A. Bailey, and Richard J Powell
2005         Transmission II: Airborne – New Museum of Contemporary Art, organized by Anne Barlow, Defne Ayas and Free 103.9 
Transmission Arts
2005          Rhizome Artbase 101, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Lauren Cornell and Rachel Greene
2005         Net Art’s Cyborg[feminist]s, Punks, and Manifestos. Rhizome, curated by Marina Grzinic 
2005         Arte Nuevo InteractivA ’05, Centro Cultural Olimpo, Merida, Mexico, curated by Raúl Ferrara-Balanquet
2005         Transmission II: Airborne, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Anne Barlow, Defne Ayas, and Galen Hunter- Joseph
2005 Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self – El Museo del Arte Puerto Rico 
2004     Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self – Seattle Art Museum curated by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis
2004         New Media: Who – Neuburger Museum of Art – Purchase College, curated by Jacqueline Shilkoff
2004         Powering Up/Powering Down – University of California, San Diego, curated by Teknika Radica (Nina Eidsheim)
2004      Ebay: Buy or Sell or Buy – Pace University Digital Art Gallery curated by Jillian Mac Donald
2004         Skills - Ingalls and Associates , curated by William Cordova
2003         Only Skin Deep – International Center for Photography, curated by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis
2003         Digital Africa – Electronic Arts Intermix Gallery, curated by Mahen Bonnetti and Prerana Reddy, Advisor Okwui Enwezor
2003         Race and Digital Space 2.0, USC and LA MOCA, curated by Christiane Robbins
2003         subRational eRuptions, Turbulence, New Radio and Performing Arts, curated by Ryan Griffis
2002         Artport Internet Art commission - Whitney Museum of American Art, curated by Christiane Paul
2002         Race and Digital Space, Studio Museum in Harlem, curated by Erika Muhammad
2002         Race and Digital Space, Spelman College Art Museum, curated by Erika Muhammad
2001         Race and Digital Space, MIT/List Visual Art Center, curated by Erika Muhammad
2001         Collective Jukebox, Marseilles, France, curated by Jerome Joy,
2001         Audiophfile 6.0, Washington, DC, curated by Laura McGough,  
2001         Audio Art Generator, Linz, Austria,
2000         Infos 2000 Offline Net Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia, curated by Tim Murray and Teo Spillers
2000        Transmissions Chapel Hill, NC, curated by Kenan Mc Donald,
1999        Sonik – the Danish Artnode Foundation and the Danish Film Institute, curated by Mogens Jacobsen (Sonik section)

2011        Art Program Jury for Association for Computing Machinery’s Creativity and Cognition Conference
2010     Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art, Grant – Jury 
2009-present Times Square Alliance, Public Art Panel
2008     eSights, eSounds New Media Arts Award, Scribe Video Center
2007       Renew Media Technical Assistance Grant
2007     Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art, Grant – Jury 
2006     New Media Arts Fellowship National Video Resources (Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) - Nominator
2005     New Media Arts Fellowship National Video Resources (Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) – Nominator
2004     New Media Arts Fellowship National Video Resources (Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) – Nominator
2004 Ya Heard: Sound from the Rhizome Artbase, permanent online exhibition, New Museum of Contemporary Art – Curator 
2001     DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival – Jury
2000      To Conserve A Legacy American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (North Carolina Central University Art Museum, Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Museum of Art), organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, curated by Richard Powell (Duke 
University) and Jock Reynolds (Yale University). -Exhibition Coordinator
1999-00     African Diaspora Film Series (Isaac Julien, Coco Fusco, and others) at the Center for Documentary Studies – Curator 
2010         The Stone, NYC (October & December)
2010         Roulette Intermedium, NYC
2009         Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL
2009         The Kitchen, NYC
2007         The Stone, NYC 
2007         The Poetry Project 
2007         Sound-Text Performance Symposium, Princeton University 
2007         Mi Poesias Reading Series, Stain Bar 
2007         UW Madison, Bodies and Production of Perversity  
2006         Cave Canem Fellows Reading, LGBT Center, NYC
2006         Cave Canem Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer-identified Faculty and Fellows Reading, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
2006         Cal State Los Angeles
2005         Art Institute of Chicago
2005          Lower Manhattan Cultural Council / New Museum of Contemporary Art
2005          Bowery Poetry Club / Segue Reading Series
2005          University of California at Santa Barbra, Center for Black Studies
2004          Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY
2004          Rhode Island School of Design
2004         University of California at San Diego
2003         Miami University, Diversity in African-American Poetry conference
2003         The Studio Museum in Harlem, reading in Response to the Gary Simmons exhibit, with Harryette Mullen and Gregory Pardlo
2002          Studio Museum in Harlem, reading of The Sour Thunder 
2002          Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut
2001         Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

2011     Brown University, panel on Improvisation and New Media
2010     Deep End Ranch Arts Residency
2010     California Institute of the Arts - Center for Integrated Media
2009         University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
2009         Bard – Program in Music/Sound
2009         University of California at Berkeley – Center for New Media, Department of African American Studies, and Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
2009         Brown University – Visual Art Department
2008         Hunter College – Tiltfactor Laboratory / Integrated Media Arts
2008         Princeton University - Music Department Sonic Fragments Conference
2008         Temple University - Creative Writing Program
2007         Princeton University - Ain’t That a Groove: The Genius of James Brown
2007         Third Coast International Audio Festival
2007         University of Wisconsin-Madison - Bodies and the Production of Perversity Seminar – “The Sexualized and Racialized Body”. A. W. Mellon Foundation Workshop. The Center for Humanities
2007         Duke University, "The Future of Art in a Digital Age”. Electronic Techtonics: Thinking at the Interface. HASTAC International Conference. 
2007         Northwestern University - Out of Sight: New World Slavery and the Visual Imagination conference. 
2006         Cal State Los Angeles – Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
2006         Cave Canem 10th Anniversary, CUNY Graduate Center, New York
2006          High Museum - Atlanta
2006         Scribe Video Center - Philadelphia
2005          California Institute of the Arts
2005         Art Institute of Chicago
2005         Lower Manhattan Cultural Council / New Museum of Contemporary Art
2004         Rhode Island School of Design Providence, Rhode Island
2004         Purchase College - Neuberger Museum of Art
2004         Wesleyan University, Music Department colloquium, Apr. 2004.
2004         University of California, San Diego, Art Department colloquium, Jan. 2004
2003         Digital Africa - Electronic Arts Intermix
2003         Miami University – Miami, Ohio
2003         New York African Film Festival / Museum of African Art (Queens)
2003         Smith College – Northampton, MA
2002         Williams College -Williamstown, MA
2002         Paine College - Augusta, GA
2001         Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
2001         Pavilion Arts Center / Media Arts Projects Leeds Public Library - Leeds, UK

2011    Four Electric Ghosts: the graphic libretto (1913 Press)- forthcoming
2011  Big House/Disclosure: Scores and Sessions (1913 Press)- forthcoming           
2009  On Screen: Global Intimacy, exhibition catalog (Krannert Art Museum / University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
2009         Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records)
2008        “Bearing Wall of Shame” in NY Arts - September/ October 08 issue
2008        “Freaking the Machine” in Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Arts and Culture. Paul D. Miller, ed. MIT Press
2008        “Haints in the Streams: Networked Music and Art” in The Lament Project (California Institute of the Arts – Center for Integrated Media)
2007       “Blackness for Sale” and ”The Pink of Stealth”, Re-skin (MIT Press), edited by Mary Flanagan
2007       “Mendi Obadike on Toi Derricotte”, Efforts and Affectations (essays by women poets on mentorship), edited by Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg (forthcoming)
2007       Tradition/Abstraction”, “A Far Cry”. The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. ed. Nikky Finney, University of Georgia Press.
2007        “Ritual”, “Getting It”, and “I Would Love to Watch My Friend, The Writer”, Mi Poesias: Revista Literaria. 
2006         “TOI DERRICOTTE”. The Feminist Encyclopedia of African-American Literature. Elizabeth Beaulieu, editor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 
2006         “HARRYETTE MULLEN” The Feminist Encyclopedia of African-American Literature. Elizabeth Beaulieu, editor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
2006   “Blackness for Sale”, Everyday eBay: Collecting, Culture, and Desire (Routledge), edited by Nathan S. Epley, Ken Hillis and Michael Petit
2008       The Way That Longing Is (a sonnet cento for Cave Canem)”. Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First 
Decade. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
2006        “Even the Magnolia”. 10 x 10 (a limited edition anthology from Cave Canem) ed. Sarah Micklem.
2005         Drunken Boat #7 – Aphasia  “The Pink of Stealth”, edited by Ravi Shankar 
2005        “Blackness for Sale” in Retail By Artists Art Metropole
2005        “Tradition/Abstraction”, “Protest Poem”, and “Residue”. Rainbow Darkness: An Anthology of Poems and Essays from the Diversity in African American Poetry Festival. Keith Tuma, ed. Miami: Miami UP.
2005        “[plastered bulletholes . . .]” and “[I wave a brown hand . . .]” Taboo Haiku. Greensboro, NC: Avisson Press, 2005. 
2004        The Sour Thunder (audio CD) Bridge Records
2004        Armor and Flesh (poems). Detroit: Lotus Press 
2004        Sexmachines III – Radio Action II, (audio CD), Free 103.9 Transmission Arts 
2004        Review. Television by Latasha N. Natasha Diggs. Black Issues Book Review. March-April 2004
2004         “Strut” Bloom: Queer Fiction, Art, Poetry, and More. ed. Charles Flowers.
2004         “Waiting for America” and “Isaac in Durham”, North Carolina Literary Review      
2004         “Watching A Friend Dance in Bill T. Jones’ You Walk”, Meridians (Smith College, MA)
2004         “Video Krishna”, Black Renaissance / Renaissance Noire (New York University) 
2004        “The Impossible Ghost of Aunt Jemima”, “A Softer Shade of Boxing”, “Farewell to Fashion”, and “Hysteria over the Death of the Noble Savage” 580 Split (Mills College, Oakland, CA) 2004      
“Determined Invisibility”, “Who Is A Poet?”, “Outward Signs”, and “O, an open(ed) letter to John Keene”Nocturnes (Re)view. Giovanni Singleton, ed. (Oakland, CA)
2003        “MUSIC”. The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia, Elizabeth Beaulieu, editor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003.
2002        “Gassed” Fence. Rebecca Wolff, ed. (New York)
2002          “Keeping up Appearances, a hypertextimonial” HOW2 
2002          “Daytime, Caracas Belongs to Women”, Indiana Review (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN)
2001        “Some Not Too Distant Tomorrow [Gen X King Memory Triptych]” Nocturnes (Re)view. (Giovanni Singleton, ed. Oakland, CA)
2001        College Art Association Art Journal "What's in a Name: Seeing Sound Art in Black Visual Traditions" Winter Issue
2000        My Hands/41/19  Infos 2000 Off-line Net.Art  CD-ROM
1998        Black Arts Quarterly (Stanford) "Acha Debela on Art and Technology", Spring Issue 

2011     Kansas City Star, “Nelson exhibit ‘Global Intimacy’ Touches on Debates Familiar in the U.S.” by Alice Thorson
2010 Houston Press, Review of “Round 32: eco, xiang, echo: meditations on the african, andean & asian diasporas” at Project Row Houses by Troy Shulze
2009      Artforum International, Music: Best of 2009 by Vijay Iyer
2009     Conscious Vibration (Blog), Review of Four Electric Ghosts by Angelique V. Nixon
2009  Journal of the Society for American Music, Vol. 3, Number 4, Recording Review: Mendi + Keith Obadike present Crosstalk American Speech Music by John Brackett
2009     All Music Guide, Review: Mendi + Keith Obadike present Crosstalk American Speech Music by Michael G. Nastos
2009     This is Book’s Music, Review: Mendi + Keith Obadike present Crosstalk American Speech Music
2009      Signal to Noise Magazine, Review of Crosstalk American Speech Music (Musicworks #103 Spring 2009) by Christian Carey
2009     Vegan Soul Kitchen Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine (Da Capo/Perseus) by Bryant Terry
2008     Critical Digital Studies: A Reader (University of Toronto Press) by Marilouise Kroker
2008     Learning to Teach Art and Design in the Secondary School (Routledge), By Nicholas Addison, Lesley Burgess
2008     Digitale Medien in der Erlebnisgesellschaft: Kultur – Kunst (Utopien, Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verl), Roberto Simanowski
2008   “History, An Exit Strategy: The RetroFuture Fabulation of Kara Lynch”. Journal of the Society of American Music. Gascia Ouzonian
2007         Race-ing for Cybercultures: The Performance of Minoritarian Cultural Work as Challenge to Presumptive Whiteness on the Internet (Routledge) Christopher McGahan
2007    Navigating Technomedia: Caught in the Web (Rowman and Littlefield), Sam Han
2007        Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Journal By and For Lesbians. “Poet Warriors: A Review of Alexis DeVeaux's biography of Audre Lorde, the Collected Poetry of June Jordan, Mendi Obadike's Armor and Flesh, Samiya Bashir's Where the Apple Falls, and Sherry Quan Lee's Chinese Blackbird.” Julie Enszer. January 2007.
2006    New Media Art (Taschen), edited by Reena Jana and Mark Tribe
2005         Art and Mass Media (Kendall and Hunt), by Robert Pelfrey and Betty Brown
2005        North Carolina Literary Review. “Inside Out, a review of recent poetry collections by Lucinda Grey and Mendi Lewis Obadike”, Debra Kang Dean, 2005
2005        Corriere Della Sera  “Multimedia” April18, Maria Teresa Cometto
2004        “Race as Visual Technology” Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (Abrams) Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis
2004        Art Museum Network News “New Media Who” August 19
2004        Art “New Media Who: at the Neuburger Museum of Art” September 6
2004    Guardian Unlimited “Talk Time: Rachel Greene” Sean Dodson, June 24
2004        Internet Art (Thames and Hudson) Rachel Greene
2004 “The Mystery Plays, Very Good Eddie Top CT Critics Circle Awards” Robert Simonson June 14
2004        Backstage   “ Connecticut Crix Go For Goodspeed, Hartford” David Rosenberg, June 
2004        Creative Loafing (Atlanta)“Concerted Effort: Art activist shares the Love” Felicia Feaster, June 24
2004        Variety “Connecticut Crix Find “Eddie” Very Good” Frank Rizzo June 22
2004        New Haven Advocate  “Mystery Date” Christopher Arnott May 13
2004        Columbia Spectator “Many Say They Feel Racism” Isolde Raftery May 12
2004        ReadMe “By Every Means Necessary” (NYU) Kasey Wehrum
2003        Leonardo Electronic Almanac “Technology and Difference”
2003        The Florida State University – Department of Art Education Dissertation “The Internet as Creative Environment: Practice 
and Explorations with the Internet Technology of Three 
Selected Artists” Ying-Yi Chou Summer 2003
2002        El Pais/Cyber Pais (Spain) R. Bosco and S. Caldana – Internet Art
2002        Form Magazine, Arle Barclay, 4-2002, 
2002        Neural Net “Interaction of Coloreds”
2001        Artthrob  "Keith Obadike Sells his Blackness" August 22
2001 "Obadike Sells his Blackness" August21
2001 Aida Croal "Blackness For Sale" August 21
2001        The Star (Chicago) Nnedi Okorafor "Talk About Selling Out" August 16 
2001        Washington Post Jessica Dawson "Audiophfile 6.0 Review" February 15
2001         Mosaic Literary Magazine. “A Lesson on Twentieth Century African-American Literature”. Lenard D. Moore
2000        Raleigh News & Observer Carlene Hempel" Art Made for the Net: an Interview with Keith and Mendi Obadike
Artist(s) Work Samples

We've created several sound art works over the years. The project is our first large scale gallery installtion focused on place.
Sonic Mbari (2010)
Last March, we built Sonic Mbari, a sound installation at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX. The soundscape in this installation is a combination of original music and sounds combined with the sounds of Houston’s Third Ward community. Residents were interviewed about moments of spiritual transformation. The voices and field recordings were placed in an empty row house, and the sounds activated colored (red, cyan, pink and orange) electroluminescent wires creating a kind of sonic drawing in the dark, reflecting the deeply personal testimonies.
Big House / Disclosure (2007)
In 2007 we received a commission from Northwestern University to create Big House / Disclosure, a public sound installation and performance suite to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade. This project included text and graphic scores, interviews with Chicago-area citizens, and a 200-hour house song / sound installation created from vocal samples taken from the audio interviews. The sound installation was physically mounted on Northwestern University’s campus and the sound streamed to the web from the project website for 200 hours.

Comment on this Proposal