Sounding the Mississippi

August 22nd, 2019

Listening to the stories and sounds that resonate around the Mississippi can show how ecosystems exist within multiple crisscrossing interrelations.

Documenting the Mississippi River as an acoustic space, this project will register the exceedingly industrialized soundscape of “Cancer Alley” and its infrastructure. Reflecting on the distribution of toxicity in the delta, I will collect sound recordings above and below the riverine water line, analyze atmospheric sounds and vessel noise, and scout for river specimens, while collecting the oral testimonies of community members who have dealt with the threats of flooding, displacement, and poisoning.

The increase in subaquatic background noise over the past century incites us to reflect on the conditions of how our knowledge about the aquatic and coastal ecosystems came about, and how these spaces have often been constructed as a frictionless arena, intimately connected with projects of imperial and capitalist expansion and militarization. Scouting for sonic registers of slow violence and toxicity, I will reflect about the intricate condition of the Mississippi ecosystem as a complex and dynamic site of exchange, where technologies and social processes overlap in a manifold of multilayered echoes and interscalar lifeforms.