Remix The News: How The Dolphins' Stadium Debate Can Be Turned Into Sound Art
As part of WLRN's Remix the News Challenge: Sun Life Stadium Edition, we're asking people (both expert and amateur) to help us hear what the stadium renovations debate sounds like to them.
Most recently, we worked with composer and sound artist Gustavo Matamoros. Born in Venezuela, Matamoros now lives in Miami and runs the annual Subtropics experimental music and sound art festival in Miami.
We had Matamoros take a listen to about 40-minutes of curated audio from press conferences, commission meetings and committee meetings that, quite frankly, was pretty boring. Matamoros then hacked that down to one minute and thirty seconds of Dolphins renovations debate that we're 99.9% sure you've never heard before (and certainly never before like this).
Matamoros wrote this about the sound art piece he created:
in speech, words are sound symbols combined to communicate ideas. the ear hears the word sounds while the mind focuses on decoding the message contained in those sounds. but words themselves and vocal sounds in between words also contain nonverbal information. they can speak about the mental and emotional state of the speaker. by editing out most meaningful words from interviews and speeches by characters in the Sun Life Stadium debate — with the exception of words referring to geography — the following piece seeks to help the mind focus its attention, not on literal information, but on the otherwise subliminal sound signature of each speaker, in the hopes this may reveal useful information about the intent beneath the spoken words.
We asked Matamoros to tell us more about his interpretation of the Sun Life Stadium audio:
Kenny Malone: One thing that we probably would never do (on the radio) that we hear in your piece is have people repeating the same words over and over again... You would say there’s a value in hearing someone say “Miami-Dade County” over and over.
Gustavo Matamoros: Well, you know, it’s like the difference between speech and music. You know, why do we listen to music? I think the kind of information we take from the experience of music is related to that experience of listening between words. Except, you know, you have the song. And the song is basically music that’s intended to accompany words, which themselves carry meaning and sometimes we listen to the meaning of the words. But I remember growing up in Venezuela and listening a lot of American music and not knowing what the words meant and I learned to listen to words as sounds rather than as language.
Malone: When you first listened to the raw sound, did you think it was interesting that locations were being used so frequently?
Matamoros: Well, yeah. I mean that’s, in a way, why I picked that as the unifying factor between interviews. The whole thing is about geography really. I mean, it’s about sports, but it’s about a specific thing that's connected to this area. The real reason I used the words is because they were kind of generic words and they were also words that we can say, ‘OK. It’s Miami. That’s Miami...” And already get it and concentrate on the sounds themselves. But no question that there’s so much information in those words. By stripping the words from what gave meaning to those words, then you hear in the words themselves certain kinds of intensity, pacing and obviously there’s certain frequency changes in the way people pronounce the words. We sort of sing words.
Malone: For a listener who’s not well versed in sound art, what would have them listen for? What would you tell them to prepare them for this?
Matamoros: Well, actually in this case it is all there. (Laughs) I’ve done the work for the listener. In other words, I’ve stripped out the parts that I think should be left out. And then I’ve just left in what should be heard in order to get a sensation from the sounds about, you know, it’s the kind of information that we subconsciously listen to. And I think it becomes part of the mix when we hear somebody speak. Or I think sometimes, you know, we just pay so much attention to the content of the words... It’s hard for people to make up their own minds about things. And I think that in the kind of work that I do I try to organize ways that may make it easier for people to connect directly with something.
If you're interested in participating in our Remix the News Challenge, the deadline is Wednesday, April 24. Everything you need to enter is located here. If you need a little more inspiration, you can also hear the stadium debate reimagined as a movie trailer.
More information on the Subtropics festival here.