At the moment I'm living in country Victoria (Clunes), Australia and working on my PhD. This is a large, multifaceted project that has spanned around five years so far, with another 18 months or so to go. The main aspects pulling my attention at this time are:
1) A new multi-channel sound installation designed for a single listener. Called Held down, expanding it has grown from thinking about mental illness and its relationship to insidious forms of control and abuse (mainly their destabilising affect on perception). How can I do this with sound? Controlled experience, complete darkness, spatial disorientation, ambiguous sonic source materials and complete isolation. At least that’s what I’m experimenting with. Stuart McFarlane is designing the structure that will hold this work. It has 12 speakers, a subwoofer, a central reclining chair and (possibly) some transducers. I've been told it's like stepping inside my subconscious. This project has been living in my brain for a long while now and I have a test setup in the front room of my home. I’m currently looking for funding to get the thing out of my house and built for an audience. Here’s the proposal. Feel free to throw money and venues at me.
2) A new composition for headphone listening, which explores similar themes to the work above. I’m drawing on source material provided by some of my favourite sound makers—Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Jim Denley, Cat Hope and Marty K (thanks guys!). I gave them all a brief summary of my research ideas related to ‘perceptual collapse’ (a term taken from this talk by mental health advocate Mark Henick) and asked them to respond in sound. They all gave me recordings to play with that fit the themes in different ways, which I've been sampling and shaping into a new composition. It’s close to done and will hopefully be out in the next few months. I'm also collecting sounds on this theme from other performers/creators to be used in further works for the PhD.
3) Writing a paper for the 6th Global Conference on Trauma, a multidisciplinary conference happening in Hungary in March next year. This paper reflects on the making of A Shut in Place, which was a track I composed back in 2012 in collaboration with Anthea Caddy. It was influenced by the book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg, which describes her three year stay in a psychiatric institution undergoing treatment for Schizophrenia. I love this book! It is important on so many levels, politically and personally. It’s beautifully written and the underlying premise is both simple and profound: healthy human relationships are imperative to healing trauma and mental illness. With this paper I am attempting to illustrate how, for me, composing is a type of thought process, one which helps me understand ideas and experiences in new ways. It gives me a kind of clarity I cannot find through word based thinking alone. That’s what most excites me about sound-making. Here's the abstract.
4) Preparing for a presentation at a conference on Storytelling, Illness and Medicine, run by the same organisation as the one above (happening on the following three days). This will be an experiment in using sound to get people thinking about what it's like to live with an invisible illness, one that cannot be easily diagnosed or treated. This idea came from recognising the parallels between the way I've intuitively developed my art practice over the years and the experiences I've had of living with a *mystery* illness. I've no idea if other people will see the relationship between sound and illness that I do, but I'm interested to find out. You can read the abstract for this session here. Attendance at this conference (and the one above) is dependant on the outcome of a funding application. Once again, feel free to throw money at me (always. Ha!). Even if the funding doesn't come through I'd still like to try this out on other audiences.
Aside from this I've been thinking a lot about potential career options. Where can all this take me and how can I make myself useful to others? Any and all ideas are being entertained. Any thoughts? Email me! thembi at cajid dot com.
P.S. I recently wrote a 'Top 10 Tools for Surviving Life, Love and the Chaos of Existence' for Room 40's 2015 'Top!' series in honour of my love for self-help. It can be found here.
The idea for a Now page came from here. Nice one. Thank you Derek Sivers.