In 1977, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft into the sky with the initial goal of exploring the outer solar system. Once the spacecraft had examined Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, they kept flying for billions of miles, ultimately entering interstellar space. Each carried a copy of the Golden Record, a disc of earthly sounds that are intended to represent humanity to any extraterrestrial civilizations that might encounter it. (To date, the record is the only human-made object to have left the solar system.) Astronomer Carl Sagan chaired the committee that determined the disc’s contents, which include booms of thunder, chirping birds, and snippets of more than 55 human languages. There’s also a lot of music: Compositions by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart made the cut, as did those by blues legend Blind Willie Johnson, Azerbaijani folk singers, and rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry.
Nearly 45 years later, the Voyager probes are still going, and still posing big questions around sound through the discs they carry. In particular: If the records’ sonic selections are discovered, will aliens have the ability to hear them? And if not, are there other ways for otherworldly creatures to experience the sounds? For Daniel K.L. Chua and Alexander Rehding, music professors at the University of Hong Kong and Harvard University, respectively, the answer to the latter is yes. They expand upon these far-out ideas in their new book, Alien Listening: Voyager’s Golden Record and Music From Earth (Princeton University Press). In lieu of merely retracing the Voyager story, the authors use the Golden Record’s proposition—that anyone, even aliens, can make sense of music—as an opportunity to redefine the meaning of listening, what constitutes music, and how the art form can serve as a timeless vehicle for sharing and connecting. Through a mix of lighthearted puns, cartoons, illustrations, and fold-out diagrams, the book rejects stuffy conventions of music theory in favor of more straightforward ways of thinking about music. Here, we ask Chua and Rehding to expand upon the wonders of the record, and what it can teach us about listening.
For those of us who are still Earthbound, can you describe what the tracks on the Golden Record sound like?
Chua: NASA was way ahead of its time, creating a record of “world music” before the term was commercially coined. You can listen to the whole thing as if it were a mix tape.
Rehding: The Golden Record’s makers actually encoded different kinds of material as sounds. There’s the music, as well as spoken word and noise tracks, but the most remarkable part are the one hundred and fifteen sonified images, [in which visual data was converted into sound]. To our ears, they sound like bleeps, but if you’re an alien—and have no concept of what constitutes human music and what doesn’t—there’s no way to know that this is just a bleep, and not a very unusual piece of music. If we, as humans, want to give ourselves an outlandish listening experience, I suggest that we start with the bleeps, and try to listen to them as music.
Are there any artists or tracks you think are missing from the Golden Record
Rehding: It has a few gaps. There’s no music from the Caribbean or from Jamaica, for example. I’d also include some Tuvan throat singing, which for me is one of the most remarkable musical traditions on our blue planet. And hip-hop as well, which was in its infancy when the record was put together.
Chua: I recently saw a video of a diver being scooped up by a whale, and almost swallowed. I’d like to add this to the Golden Record. The Record features a recording of U.N. delegates sharing messages in various languages. But because they were so long-winded, Sagan’s team had to make a mashup of these greetings as a collage, and decided to add a whale’s song in the background. I think this could be quite confusing for the average alien linguist. It’s hard enough having to decipher the different human languages, but to add another species in the mix is asking a lot. So the video may help provide a clue.
Sending a record into space for aliens to hear suggests that music can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their place in time or space. What is the value of thinking about music in that way, as opposed to the convoluted ways that traditional musical theory approaches the subject?
Chua: Every culture has music. So the fact that music theory is typically an incomprehensible and exclusive activity is not society’s problem, but the problem of music theorists. This book gets back to basics, jettisons jargon, thinks laterally, and makes the case that music is not difficult to understand.
Rehding: Music theory is interested in the question of how we listen to music. But often, it’s too wrapped up in the things that it’s been doing forever, and doesn’t seem to find a way out. We used the Golden Record as an extreme listening situation to take an outside perspective, quite literally, on what music theory does. The aliens are our avatars here: What would a music theory need to look like if it cannot count on any prior knowledge of anything—of music, of styles and genres, of cultural differences, of human ears? What remains is time, pure and simple. And that’s our starting point for a very different kind of music theory.
We reference the figure of Penelope, from ancient Greece, who weaves a shroud while waiting for her husband, Odysseus, to come home. Listening involves a similar phenomenon: the act is a means to “weave” time to detect patterns and repetitions.
The book makes several references to pop culture, including the TV shows Star Trek and Doctor Who. That’s a fun way to keep the mood light, but it occurred to me that both of those programs are, in part, about cultural diversity through the metaphor of space, which is also what the Golden Record aspires to.
Chua: Inclusiveness is vital in our music theory. We welcome the aliens, after all! Also, these TV shows “come in peace,” like NASA. They offer a vision of a universe that is fundamentally peaceful, or at least, a universe that can be ultimately peaceful. Without a peaceful universe as a premise, there is really no point sending music into space.
Brian Eno, the British musician and ambient-music pioneer, spends a lot of time thinking about how he can impact the wor
British author and journalist Harry Freedman first conceived of the idea for his new book, Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius (Bloombsbury), while driving along the A40 highway in the United Kingdom, where he lives. Suddenly, “Hallelujah,” a sonVarious Positions that’s since become an often-covered secular hymn, came on the radio. “For some reason I listened more carefully than I
Artist Trevor Paglen has a talent for visualizing the invisible. He has photographed top-secret drones and bases used byEp. 49 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Each piece encourages viewers to ponder the unseen, often disturbing realities that quietly shape our everyday lives.
When Washington, D.C.–based electronic musician and sound engineer Yoko Sen fell ill and was hospitalized for multiple d
Kevin Beasley’s First Live Outdoor Performance Examines the Everyday Cacophony of a New York City Intersection
Kevin Beasley’s performances often push sound to the extreme. To witness one is to experience sonic vibrations as a viscnot hearing something, it’s because the matter that it’s moving through isn’t carrying it, and it gets dispersed,” he says Ep. 47 of Time Sensitive podcast. “And that shift—whatever that thing is, that’s either limiting it or amplifying that sound—there’s a major consequence
What is it about that one stirring album that makes a home in us? Tom Gatti, deputy editor of the British political and The New Statesman, investigates the mystery of such beloved recordings in his new book Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them (Bloomsbury). In it, he sets the stage by navigating the album’s material evolution, from the golden years of vinyl to
“David Bowie was the greatest artist in any medium from the 1970s onwards,” says philosopher Simon Critchley. His opinioTop of the Pops at age 12, Critchley, now in his 60s, often turns to him as a muse and a mirror. (Critchley makes music himself with his longtime collaborator, John Simmons.) In the midst of the pandemic this past January, five years after Bowie’sNew York Times op-ed titled “What Would Bowie Do?,” searching for answers in the dystopian worlds of his songs.
The arrival of autumn prompts many of us to layer up, and Japanese experimental musician Asuna follows suit—though with 100 Keyboards (September 30–October 2), an immersive audio presentation generated by overlapping tones, at the Brooklyn Academy of Mu
On the whole, a cover song rarely captures the sonic greatness of the original tune—but sometimes, such reinterpretationAmerikinda: 20 Years of Dualtone. It features Dualtone artists and alumni, who represent a who’s who of American heritage musicians, all covering one an
Podcasts are a powerful resource for those interested in learning about the singular, unimaginable tragedy of September Ep. 118 of our At a Distance podcast, out today, which features architect Daniel Libeskind, whose studio designed the original master plan of the new World
The façades of London’s historic buildings are often covered in decorative motifs. Among the most abundant is the cornuccornu copiae (“horn of plenty”), serves as a fitting emblem for “Sonic Bloom,” an outdoor installation by Japanese artist Yuri Suzuki that opened last week in Mayfair’s Brown Hart Gardens, near th
Hearing impairment can affect people at any age, especially musicians and fans who are regularly exposed to high-volume Crystal Guardian, aims to prevent.
“Kendrick Lamar is my favorite rapper of the modern era,” says veteran pop-culture critic and fiction writer Miles MarshDAMN., Lewis began talking about the songwriter and record producer with his agents and editor, and eventually set about unpaPromise That You Will Sing About Me: The Power and Poetry of Kendrick Lamar (St. Martin’s Press), out next month, eloquently considers and contextualizes Lamar’s work, life, and lyrics through the
For Cathy and Peter Halstead, the co-founders of Montana’s sprawling Tippet Rise Art Center—the kind of awe-inspiring en
The greater our technological advances, the smaller our devices—or so it seems, at least, in the case of speakers. In thLumisonic, a wireless ceiling-mounted apparatus that combines superior audio with a dimmable LED light source for a singular atmo
The Ironic speaker, produced by the Brooklyn studio Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA), looks more like an abstract sculpture than a potent delivere
Spend a few hours with the Sounds of the Forest open-source library of woodland-area recordings, and you’ll be sure to see the forest for the trees. From the Alps to tEp. 114 of our At a Distance podcast), and one of our most spiritually beloved. Be they tropical or temperate, these dense ecosystems function as the world’
Before he began practicing and teaching Ashtanga yoga, New York native Eddie Stern searched for his identity in the city Ep. 43 of our Time Sensitive podcast. For even more, listen to him on Ep. 16 of At a Distance, as well.)
Amid last year’s travel restrictions and global lockdowns, Erkam Şeker, a Turkish graduate student studying in Munich, mDrive & Listen, a website that allows visitors to do exactly that. Enter the site, and high-resolution video footage (obtained from Yo
Artisans at the Tokyo-based homeware company Sugahara have been handcrafting gracefully curvy, minimal objects from glas
Brooklyn-based model, artist, and activist Chella Man received his first hearing aids when he was 4 years old. Eight yeajewelry collection that Man released earlier this year in collaboration with the New York fashion label Private Policy. Together with desishort film that featured himself, alongside model Rayly Aquino and dancer Raven Sutton (who are both also deaf), wearing the jewel
In West Africa, legendary tales have been passed down for centuries by griots, storytellers who are also poets, historians, genealogists, and musicians. A deeply respected speaker, the griot is tasked with memorizing and retelling—sometimes with the addition of new details that relate to the lives of a modern
British musician Jack Stafford likens his Podsongs podcast to the end credits of a movie, when the title song plays and keeps audiences in their seats, embodying the spirplaylist. “When I listen to other podcasts now, and there’s no song at the end, there’s this huge letdown,” Stafford says. “This
Wizened cork oak trees carpet the gently swelling highlands of Portugal’s Alentejo region, where Cédric Etienne, co-founStudio Corkinho, is transforming a cork farm into an alternative healing retreat that will open in 2024 under the Slow hospitality bann
Over the past decade, German D.J. and producer Christian Löffler has enjoyed a growing audience for his distinct blend o
Morning prayer. Children playing. Cooking dinner. Singing a lullaby. The quotidian sounds that form our everyday experiemahallas—tight-knit, multi-generational living quarters that feature shared amenities including kitchens and gardens—that are beMahalla: Urban Rural Living,” the pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, open today through November 21.
Late last year, park benches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—each with a clear view looking west—were stamped with smThe End of the Day, a meditative public audio experience created by artist April Soetarman. Her voice gently guides listeners through a 10
Every music fan knows the roster of iconic artists who died young, particularly those who passed around age 27, and gain
The fallout from the climate crisis gives us plenty to fear: habitat destruction, extreme weather, and—in case you slept through the last year—global pandemics. But clinical psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon, foundeEp. 51 of our At a Distance podcast), believes that fear and other intense emotions are some of our best tools for pursuing meaningful climate action. “PasClimate Emotions Conversations, a digital forum for people to express their emotions out loud.
Early American colonists mistook cicadas, compact insects with dark exoskeletons, glistening red eyes, and big wings, fo
Creating immersive environments that tell stories using music is second nature to London-based sound artist Peter Adjaye. He’s used his skills as a DJ-producer, musicologist, and composer to collaborate on a wide range of interdisciplinary Dialogues, which explores the connection between music and architecture.
Numero Group is that rare music label with levels of passion, curiosity, and risk-taking equivalent to the artists it represents. Fr
Last week, the emerging Los Angeles folk duo Junaco released its latest single, “Weight of the World,” which they wrote after listening to Ep. 20 of our Time Sensitive podcast featuring fashion designer Jesse Kamm. (Pakistani singer Shahana Jaffer, who started the band three years ago with drumBlue Room, in June.
In colloquial Levantine Arabic, عفكرة roughly translates to “on second thought” or “come to think of it.” Pronounced afikra, the term is a fitting name for the grassroots movement social entrepreneur Mikey Muhanna founded in 2014, dedicated to cultivating curiosity about Arab history and culture. U
“Studies have shown that listening to the sound of beavers enthusiastically munching on white cabbage can temporarily retweeted last fall. (The account is maintained by the family of the late children’s book author, who wrote the story that inspired the criBabe). The post, accompanied by a video of a rodent enjoying a cabbage buffet, went viral and was clearly untrue—but nodded
The sounds of Legos poured out of a toybox, dropping to the floor, and clicking together are recognized all over the wor“White Noise” playlist. Made using only the sounds of Lego bricks and pieces, “White Noise” is a score of seven tracks made to produce calming
More than two decades in the making, the National Museum of African American Music opened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through its seven galleries and the some 1,50
Dominated by companies such as Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose, which leverage technology to make ever-smaller components, thestimated $28.5 billion by the end of this year. On the flip side, there are proudly D.I.Y. audio designers like Devon Turnbull, who with his brand Ojas creates high-end sound systems from his basement and a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By hand-building speakers th
It’s been a tough year for musicians and DJs, as the pandemic continues to make traditional revenue streams for performiYoung Turks (which counts FKA twigs, Sampha, and The xx among the musicians on its roster), the absence of in-person performances ia playlist of uplifting songs for us that have “amplified the best parts of my year,” he says, “and distracted me from some of the worst.” There’s so
Sound designer Perry Brandston grew up plugging away in New York institutions such as CBGB and Fillmore East in the 1970Oda, a speaker system that was originally designed in 2016 as a means for the American musician Phil Elverum to broadcast l
Nestled in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park comprises 1,583 square miles of scenic wilderness—
When Teenage Engineering released its OP-1 portable synthesizer, in 2011, the device received glowing reviews from an arOB-4, a Bluetooth speaker system that it’s billing as a “magic radio.” The term isn’t too far off: The mobile, four-speaker
“We love radio, but it’s become so dependent on information and story,” says Chris Hoff, who, with Sam Harnett, producesThe World According to Sound, a podcast comprising minutes-long episodes that tell tales with sounds in lieu of language. “There’s not a lot of spac
In 2014, Nick Quah launched Hot Pod, a newsletter focused on the art of podcasting. Today, the Malaysia native also serves as a podcast critic for New York magazine’s culture and entertainment website, Vulture, and hosts Servant of Pod with Nick Quah, a podcast on the craft and culture of podcasting. We recently phoned Quah at his home in Idaho for an off-the-cuff con Podcasts can adapt to a wide array of topics. Is flexibility their greatest asset?
The middle of a pandemic may seem like an odd time to launch a podcast about road trips—but maybe it’s ideal, as unexpecGreetings from Somewhere, a show about how travel affects us; how we affect the places we visit; and, to date, how the pandemic changed everythi
Malcolm James, a senior lecturer in media and cultural studies at England’s University of Sussex, examines the relationsSonic Intimacy: Reggae Sound Systems, Jungle Pirate Radio, and Grime YouTube Music Videos (Bloomsbury). It’s a thoughtful, scrupulous study, demonstrating how technology, politics, and perception have influenc
Music is art, according to Los Angeles–based musician and sound engineer Dan Alexander, who, since 1967, has bought and Dan Alexander Audio: A Vintage Odyssey (Rowman & Littlefield), a lyrical, emotive study of classic audio equipment. The 440-page tome comes with all the geeke
Elliott H. Powell Traces the History of Black Musicians Engaging with South Asian Culture and Sounds
By analyzing examples from the 1960s to today, Elliott H. Powell, a scholar of race, sexuality, and pop music, traces thSounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press). “In the end,” Powell says, “the book is about illustrating what the political stakes a
Don’t be fooled by the no-frills appearance of this device—it’s actually something of a shape-shifter. Created by the ItCity Radio (available in the U.S. through Uncommon Goods) lets users pick from 18 international radio libraries with a few flicks of the finger: Simply download the gadget’s ap
Keith Abrahamsson is the founder of the independent record label Mexican Summer, which operates out of New York and London and counts the likes of Cate Le Bon, Ariel Pink, and Photay among the artistEp. 3 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Launched in 2008, his venture has grown to include a reissue label, Anthology, and a book publishing arm, Anthology Editions. In an effort to soothe anxious, isolated souls, Abrahamsson put together a playlist of transporting tunes for us. “It’s culled from material both in and outside my orbit—songs I work with directly or have connected to as a co “Love Is A Jungle,” Peter Ivers “For Lise,” Matchess “Rectifiya,” keiyaA “Stay Sane,” Pink Siifu “Charlotte's Thong,” Connan Mockasin “Infinitamente Nu,” Sessa “Min
An international pandemic may seem like an unusual time to kick-start a podcast called The Art of Travel. But for Olivia Lopez, a Filipina fashion blogger whose pre-Covid life entailed constant globetrotting, being stuck at the first episode of the podcast, which she launched over the summer. Through the project, Lopez hopes to provide a “temporary escape for listeners, whiYOLO magazine founder Yolanda Edwards, who talks about an unforgettable trip to Greece; Life House Hotels founder Rami Zeidan, who discusses how to make travel more meaningful; and perfumer Frédéric Malle, who explains how to travel via the senses. The conversations have been a balm for Lopez, who, like all of us, has been missing the excitement of everyday life. “
Music fans missing a regular calendar of gigs will find a lifeline in Iris Flow, headphones made to mimic the sound qualIris, which is backed by Queen drummer Roger Taylor, the device features a patented algorithm that restores complex spatial
In 2015, German-born British composer Max Richter wrote an epic eight-and-a-half-hour-long musical cycle titled “Sleep,” with the intention of it being the soundtrack to one night’s snooze. It consists of 31 tracks that each last about halfRichter said ahead of the piece’s U.S. premiere. “It’s a political work in that sense. It’s a call to arms to stop what we’re doing.” Recently, with the help of the Bean app of the same name. Divided into three sessions—Sleep, Meditate, and Focus—users can set timers for the music to play according to a chose
In the early 1970s, the nonprofit educational program Creative Music Studio (CMS) opened in Woodstock, New York, with an unconventional aim: invite artists—regardless of their musical ability, soTime Sensitive podcast.) Martin recently unveiled Creative Music Workshop, an online platform that builds on CMS’s legacy with free masterclasses and an ever-growing library of archival footageMedeski Martin & Wood (MMW), of which Martin is the drummer, called “Inside the Minds, Outside the Lines.” “Our general philosophy is to continuously reinvent ourselves,” Martin says of MMW, which plans to detail strategies fo
The Black Music History Library is here to bless—and educate—your ears. Launched this past August by New York–based music journalist Jenzia Burgos, thean episode of the Heat Rocks podcast as well as a list of preeminent musicologists, historians, and scholars. To those open to pure exploration and discovery, Burgos offers a roll-the-dice folder that randomizes selections from
Reporting on the climate crisis is a balancing act, where journalists must convey a sense of urgency without provoking dHot Take and How to Save a Planet, forgo the subject’s usual doom-and-gloom approach in favor of storytelling, where emotion and calls to action engage l
An activist, M.C., artist, and the first-ever hip-hop ambassador to the U.S. State Department, Toni Blackman—who runs hip-hop meditation workshops—describes her passion-driven role as being “more of a mindfulness educator, and lea playlist of her favorite tracks that help center her. “I was totally unaware of how much music was inside of my head and heart. Some of these songs I play on repeat every oEp. 55 of At a Distance earlier this year. “In between tears and mourning and political frustrations, I am enjoying my journey!”
The sheer volume of awful things that have happened in recent months makes a person wonder if we’ll ever get it right. FRadical Imagination podcast, now is the perfect moment to discuss deep-seated issues such as reparations, extreme poverty, and police miscoEp. 67 of our At a Distance podcast. So far, she’s interviewed Stockton, California, mayor Michael Tubbs about his guaranteed income initiative, as well as
The pandemic and ongoing global shifts have caused us all to slow down—and not just here at The Slowdown. Our friends atTokyo Slow Mixtapes: guest-curated collections of songs on Spotify to soothe you through these high-stress, anxiety-inducing times. ContribEp. 19 and Ep. 36, respectively, of our At a Distance podcast), along with Le Sirenuse hotel co-owners Antonio and Carla Sersale, with neOur own co-founder Spencer Bailey’s mixtape, for which he turned to the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto for inspiration, includes tracks by the likes
The anticipation of hearing and chasing down an ice cream truck is a nostalgic American pastime, bringing joy to kids onColumbia Records even released a recorded version of the song, written by actor Harry C. Browne, titled, “N*gger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!,” a disturbing slice of American histoTikTok-er Vanessa Blackwell resurfaced earlier this summer in a viral post. Offering a sorely needed replacement, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA recently partnered with the ice cream maker Good Humor to crRZA said in a video announcing the project. “I assure you that this one is made with love.” Good Humor released the track for free, urging all ice-cream truck dri
Museums have begun to reopen in New York City—with appropriate precaution—and after months of prolonged closures and dig“Rashid Johnson: Stage,” an installation opening next week at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, and offering a participatory platform for diEp. 25 of our Time Sensitive podcast. At once referencing hip-hop culture, public oratory, protest, and public intellectual and cultural life, “Stage” will
The summer of Covid may be coming to an end, but our hearts, ears, and minds are hardly retreating indoors. We’re listenFor the Wild, a weekly podcast and “anthology of the Anthropocene” that’s keeping us curious and engaged about our place in nature. Feasting Wild author Gina Rae La Cerva (who also joined us on Ep. 39 of At a Distance) on the “quiet and hidden” stories of foraged foods; The Nap Ministry founder Tricia Hersey on rest as an act of social resistance; and Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an enrolled member of the CiCenter for Native Peoples and the Environment, on what we can learn about earth healing from indigenous cultures. Many episodes come with a call to action to up your
Working from home, at least for those who are fortunate enough to do so, isn’t all bad. Trading workwear for loungewear,The Kids, a creative agency based in Zurich, are not all right with this. The firm’s interactive online project I Miss the Office serves as a cheeky reminder of pre-Covid-19 life that simulates the mundane soundscape of an everyday workplace—the sma
At first listen, the Get Sleepy podcast’s format is surprisingly basic: Cue the lulling intonations of a British narrator, who slowly reads an intentioSlumber, launched in 2018). Get Sleepy’s ASMR-meets-bedtime stories appeal is apt for these high-anxiety existential times that
Zoom fatigue—which is to say, screen fatigue—is all too real in these extremely online and indoor times, making old-school telephone calls a welcome, intimate reprieve. While we eagerly await museum reopenings, we’re gettin
The Swiss Army knife of gadgets, smartphones make for very good alarm clocks. They’re comforting to sleep with, keeping harder to sleep, impairs vision, suppresses melatonin, and throws the body’s circadian rhythm completely out of whack. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends ending the use of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.)
A love of theater and drama drives the work of architect and designer David Rockwell, who grew up in a theater-going famRockwell Group, has designed numerous hospitality, entertainment, and cultural spaces—from Nobu to NeueHouse to The Shed—plus dozens oKinky Boots and Hairspray. While theaters are officially closed for the rest of the year, here Rockwell brings the spirit of the stage home to us with a playlist of some of his favorite musical numbers. (For more from Rockwell, listen to Spencer interview him on Ep. 1 of The Workspace of Tomorrow podcast.)
This time of year usually signals rest and recharging for many, with relaxation and summer travels in store. All of thatNature Ecology & Evolution, scientists have coined a term for this particular window of time—the “anthropause”—and have set out to quantify its efbiologist Christian Rutz, one of the paper’s lead authors, told Wired. “And we acknowledge that in the article. But it’s one which we, as a scientific community, really can’t afford to missone scientist, volcanologist Jan Lindsay, said. “The ‘2020 seismic noise quiet period’ will likely become something that Earth science students of the future will lea
As civic life came to a grinding halt this spring, with cities in lockdown around the world, the vivacious cacophony of as Siri Hustvedt wrote in a beautiful Financial Times essay in late April. “I have come to think of the sirens as the city’s heartbreaking music, a high-pitched dirge that accompanies the numbe
Michel Rojkind, founder of the namesake firm Rojkind Arquitectos, is known as a leading figure of Mexico City’s contemporary architecture scene—all the more impressive considering that
Festivals are canceled for the year, and online dance parties now a bit played out, several months into the pandemic—resHouse Party, a digital performance and semiweekly publication series from The Poetry Project (not to be confused with the social meCenter for Fiction, book talks with authors, such as one taking place on July 31 titled “The Long View: New Fiction from Edmund White and City Arts & Lectures, home to a trove of previously recorded conversations and upcoming talks that will be webcast and later available to ththis recent webcast between author Rebecca Solnit and actor and screenwriter Brit Marling (pictured above).
The 4th of July has at times been a fraught holiday for Americans, and the cause for celebration feels especially dubiouincluding Native Americans, disproportionately hard). In recent weeks, the nostalgia of fireworks—a visual and auditory spectacle innovated by Chiconspiracy theories on social media. They’ve also sparked debates about race, gentrification, class, and the privilege of calling the police for “quality ofireworks and hand sanitizer could make for a dangerous combination,” making the dazzling explosives, at least for this year, a peculiar, precarious assault on the senses, in more ways th
Live music is the lifeblood for the Woodstock, New York–based musician Amy Helm, who grew up with two musical parents, The Band’s drummer Levon Helm and singer Libby Titus. When the Covid-19 pandemicConnor Kennedy to take their show on the road, and to doorsteps around the Hudson Valley. We caught up with Helm just as New York was Curbside Pickup Band.
The Los Angeles–based industrial designer Jonathan Olivares produces works with a profound understanding and observation of how the human body sits and moves through space. But hiGo Skateboarding Day tomorrow, here he shares a playlist of his favorite skateboarding songs, and the legendary video parts that feature them. “This is a selection of songs that have been paired with some of my f
Layered compositions, calligraphic abstractions, and public spaces often factor into the works of Brooklyn-based Cuban-AmericanJosé Parlá, who has exhibited worldwide and installed large-scale murals in spaces ranging from inside the lobby of One World Trad“José Parlá: It’s Yours,” is currently on view at the Bronx Museum, through Jan. 10, 2021, though the museum is temporarily closed at the moment a playlist of some of his favorite Cuban songs to move to.
In an era where music streaming algorithms and data-driven suggestions can throw you for a loop, somehow leading you to Radiooooo—spelled with, count ’em, five O’s—around the idea of creating a crowdsourced time machine of music. While popular platfRadio Garden, which lets you tune into more than 8,000 radio stations from all over the world, each plotted onto a Google Earth–like
With #StayHome campaigns driving home the importance of social distancing while the race to find a vaccine continues, prThe Body Keeps Score (currently No. 1 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list), said on Ep. 2 of our At a Distance podcast, now is as good a time as any to start a meditation practice or new exercise routine to calm your autonomic nervous sysa virtual conference he’s hosting with the Trauma Research Foundation—a healthy reminder that learning about self-care is a lifelong journey.
Helen Molesworth, the longtime art curator behind major shows such as “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 193Recording Artists podcast. Here, we chat with her about the trailblazing female artists featured in the series.
As concerts, festivals, and group gatherings remain on hold worldwide, more or less steadily finding a place online, we a more accessible series of flat-packed speaker-building kits for fellow audiophiles to assemble at home. While Turnbull’s custom analog speakers are known for their utilitarian aes
One upside to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis: a renaissance of podcasts and audio content to take in. These days, we’re tunCurio.io app for a curated selection of the best narrated and audio journalism being produced today. The helpful, easy-to-navigaFinancial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Economist—and we’re chuffed to have The Slowdown in such great company, with our very own At a Distance podcast now available on
The prolific Polish-American architect and artist Daniel Libeskind—renowned for his bold-faced projects, such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Denver Art Museum—finds great inspiraa playlist of classical pieces that are helping him navigate this tumultuous time.
The days of festivals and shows in concert halls may be put on pause for now, but live music is still very much alive anpatios around the world, and, of course, online. Each Saturday this month, the International Contemporary Ensemble, an artists’ collective withopen to anyone and all with an online RSVP, and asks that participants join in on the “sound-a-long” meditation—no prior singing or music experience necessary—for
Time has seemingly come to a standstill as countries around the world press pause on economic and cultural life in an efAt a Distance calls upon leading minds for a whole-earth, long-view perspective, offering a respite from the fear- and anxiety-induci
Laura Baldassari, an opera singer, actress, artist, and partner in the multidisciplinary studio Atelier Biagetti, shares a playlist of some of her favorite opera songs and the performers who are providing her solace at the moment. “I’ve been thinking of an emotional journey through oper
Artist and musician Billy Martin, drummer of the band Medeski Martin & Wood and a sometime collaborator with The Slowdown (he composed the jingle of oura playlist of songs that are helping him get through the current coronavirus quarantine. While chatting with him about his selection, Martin invoked the words of Samuel Beckett: “You must go on. I can’t go o
Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum, shares a playlist of disco tracks from “Studio 54: Night Magic,” an exhibition on the history, social politics, and aesthetics of the legendary New York nightclub. The show will be on view through July 5, but due to the coronavirus, the museum is currently closed until further notice.
After nearly 20 years in the fashion business, 15 of those spent running his eponymous label, Phillip Lim is taking an ia statement on why he was pausing from the runway, citing “sustainability in all its forms” as a top concern: “I’d like to take a m
Stefan Sagmeister has designed a lot of album covers in his day—among them, David Byrne’s Feelings (1997) and Talking Heads’s 2003 box set Once in a Lifetime. Here, the notoriously cheeky graphic designer (interviewed by Spencer on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast), shares a playlist of some of his favorite Byrne cover songs. Byrne himself wraps his Broadway tour of American Utopia tomorrow, Feb. 16, after a four-month run.
With Valentine’s Day on the way, singer-songwriter Jesse Carmichael, the keyboardist and rhythm guitarist of Maroon 5 (and a sometime collaborator of The Slowdown), shares a playlist featuring a few of his favorite love songs.
The luxury skincare line La Mer is known for plenty of things—most notably, its hype and hefty price tag: A single jar o
As everyday life becomes increasingly enmeshed with technology, our attention spans fragmented by constant distractions Walking podcast, journalist and author Jon Mooallem doesn’t interview guests, host any celebrities, or sound off on current aff
Devon Turnbull, founder of Ojas, creates bespoke, hi-fi audio gear and speakers that are often commissioned and collecte
New year, new grooves. Evan Shornstein, the Woodstock, New York, native behind the ambient-electronic outfit Photay, shares with us a playlist of motivational tracks to usher in good vibes for 2020. A particular surprise—for us, anyway—is the second-to-last tracSelf Portrait. Like us, you’ll probably have it on heavy rotation in the months ahead.
Before entering academia, Susan Rogers, director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory, worked as a p
Andrew Gant, a British composer, singer, Oxford University lecturer, and the author of Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir (Profile Books), shares a sampling of classic Christmas songs and elaborates on their surprising folk origins.