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Unsettling Scores

Online dates:
2, 16 & 30 September 2020

Raven Chacon and Candice Hopkins, Megan Cope, Proposals for the Future (Nick Ashwood, Johnny Chang, Megan Alice Clune, Andrew Fedorovitch, Sonya Holowell, MP Hopkins, Shota Matsumura and Alexandra Spence), Dylan Robinson and Rob Thorne.

Debris Facility and Joel Stern, Liquid Architecture

Unsettling Scores is a three-part online program curated by Liquid Architecture for  MUMA in conjunction with the exhibition Samson Young: Real Music, with works also appearing on Liquid Architecture’s journal platform Disclaimer.

Bringing together artists, musicians and writers from around the world, Unsettling Scores examines how experimental and political sound and acts of listening become vehicles of unsettlement. Grounded in the language of musical scores, these practices disrupt logics of settlerism, extractivism, expropriation and appropriation while at the same time offering powerful assertions of sovereignty, resistance and futurity. Collating texts, videos, audio, notation, transcripts, proposals and documentation, Unsettling Scores takes the form of an expanded dialogue between contributors.

The program begins on 2 September with Quandamooka artist Megan Cope presenting collected materials and notation from her recent work Untitled (Death Song), commissioned for the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Comprising a suite of sound sculptures constructed from discarded mining equipment, Untitled (Death Song) is a meditation on the ghost-like call of the yellow-eyed Bush Stone-curlew, a harbinger of death in Quandamooka culture. In conjunction, Xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer and curator Dylan Robinson will share readings from his groundbreaking book Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, exploring Indigenous relationships to the lives of songs and the resonances between listeners, sounds and spaces.

Launching on 16 September as part two of the program, Navajo Nation sound artist Raven Chacon and Carcross/Tagish curator and writer Candice Hopkins will present an expanded propositional score that draws on their experiences of the Standing Rock Reservation Water Protector encampment in 2016. Reflecting on the struggle for cultural preservation and the defence of Indigenous sovereignty, this new collaborative work is situated in the context of their broader research into practices of decolonial listening.

Concluding Unsettling Scores on 30 September is Māori composer, performer and anthropologist Rob Thorne’s (Ngāti Tumutumu) new sound work that continues his exploration of stone, bone, shell, wood and other materials resonant with connection to land and culture.  Experimental composers Nick Ashwood, Johnny Chang, Megan Alice Clune, Andrew Fedorovitch, Sonya Holowell, MP Hopkins, Shota Matsumura and Alexandra Spence, collectively Proposals for the Future, will share a suite of text-scores made in recent months to bridge the isolation of lockdown through moments of collaborative and speculative listening.

Liquid Architecture

Image: Megan Cope, instruction for performers of Untitled (Death Song) 2020

Unsettling Scores


Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of  ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.

Dylan Robinson is a Stó:lō scholar who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University, located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. His research focuses upon the sensory politics of Indigenous activism and the arts, and questions how Indigenous rights and Settler colonialism are embodied and spatialised in public space. His current research documents the history of contemporary Indigenous public art (including sound art and social arts practices) across North America. This project involves working with Indigenous artists and scholars to collaboratively imagine new models for public engagement, to create new public works that acknowledge Indigenous histories of place, and to envision future sovereignties.

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith, developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist. As an educator, Chacon has served as composer-in-residence for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project, where he taught string-quartet composition to hundreds of Native American high-school students on reservations in the American Southwest.

Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019, and documenta 14, 2017. Her writings on history, art and vernacular architecture have been published by MIT Press, BlackDog Publishing, Revolver Press, New York University, the Fillip Review and the National Museum of the American Indian, among others. Hopkins has lectured widely including at the Witte de With, Tate Modern, Dakar Biennale, Tate Britain and the University of British Columbia.

Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu) is a new and original voice in the evolving journey of Taonga Puoro. His debut album Whāia te Māramatanga (Rattle Records) is a deeply felt and highly concentrated conversation between the past and the present—a musical passage of identity and connection. Using modern loop technology and traditional Māori flutes and horns made from stone, bone, shell and wood, Thorne creates a transcendent aural experience that touches the soul with timeless beauty. Every performance of Whāia te Māramatanga is a stunning and very personal exploration of the spiritual and healing qualities of an ancient practice.

Proposals from the Future
Nick Ashwood, Johnny Chang, Megan Alice Clune, Andrew Fedorovitch, Sonya Holowell, MP Hopkins, Shota Matsumura and Alexandra Spence

Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.

Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Chang is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.

Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Clune is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including: the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NY) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.

Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis. Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.

Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work—and the forms they take—are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.

M.P. Hopkins is an artist based in Sydney who is concerned with how to record voices that are not really there, and ways to make voices that are there not sound like voices. He makes audio recordings, performances and texts.

Shota Matsumura is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Matsumura is currently an honours student associated with the Plant Ecophysiology and Ecosystem Processes Lab at the University of Sydney.

Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on Gadigal country in Sydney. She makes installations, compositions and performances based on (everyday) sound and listening. Through her practice she attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. She has a current, near-spiritual, obsession with the animation of material and object through sound. Spence has performed and presented work on radio, in concerts, festivals, symposiums and galleries worldwide, and has two releases: Waking, She Heard The Fluttering, with Room40, and Immaterial, with Longform Editions.