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photo credit: Iris Rijskamp

Sounds of Aliens

A musical communication between humans and their inner alien

The Embassy of Aliens seeks to negotiate bilateral diplomacy and shifting borders between ideological regions of the extra- and intra-terrestrial worlds. For centuries, humans have been imagining what aliens might be like, even scientists have been actively searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) since the 1960s. With the radio telescope, scientists seek to detect strange signals in deep space as a proxy for extraterrestrial intelligence. Philip Morrison, an American physicist, stated that SETI is the archaeology of the future - which is the study of what we have a chance to become. However, the only criteria for the strange signals on which scientists’ assumptions base are human technologies. This paradox implies two insights about aliens: First, we are one of the alien futures for which we ourselves are excavating. Secondly, our imagination of aliens is the chance for us to become. However without scientific findings, what contemporary pop culture represents as extra-terrestrial aliens is largely based on projecting our own unrealized hopes and fears. In other words, the alien begins inside the human self. The Embassy of Aliens seeks to set aside the violent and often exploitative themes and narrative devices that have dominated the cultural representation of aliens across films and literature for centuries. Largely shaped by existing science fiction, these perceptions of extra-terrestrial lifeforms have sociopolitical impacts on how we imagine the future and how we approach conspiracy theories, space colonization, and planetary governance. Instead, The Embassy of Alien’s diplomats are prompting and exploring alternative imaginaries and abstract gateways through which to appreciate alien perspectives. Based on the Alien Basic Concepts proposed by Bernhard Waldenfels, that the alien begins in ourselves and not outside ourselves, one of the outcomes of this inquiry is Sounds of Aliens. Sounds of Aliens is a musical instrument to facilitate communication between humans and their inner aliens. Through detecting human brain waves, the instrument translates the human imagination of aliens into musical signals, allowing humans to engage without visual stigma. Without figuratively showing aliens but approaching the notion through different aspects, alien perspectives are given agency and the chances for us to become are revealed. Through this intra-planetary collaboration, the project hopes to challenge people’s stereotypes and perceived differences and borders between others, societies, and worlds.

Interactive Installation, 2021

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+one of the outcomes from the project: The Embassy of Aliens

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