Strategy for Open-Source Accessible Playful Tech
hey👋️, I’m Aleyda Rocha - an independent product manager, researcher and educator with an extensive background in launching emerging creative initiatives and technologies.
I'm savvy, resourceful, and thrive building strategic relationships that foster real value for global platforms.

Also running a self-organized learning environment for art-therapy called An Area of Quietude.

Expanded ecologies of collaborative survival:
A Séance of humanness through bodies, movements, sounds, and technology in Chthulucene

(i) Abstract

How inhabiting the landscape makes sense of the dissonance of multi-scaled contradictions across the imagery of utopia, historically speaking, envisioned as rural, indulged in nature? To what extent are picturesque episodes, frontier images, and pastoral discourses commensurate with, or challenge, the making and happenings of new technotheocratic geoengineering alliances, and the confrontation with otherness.

At the heart of this research is to identify and reveal the historical relations of multisensorial —engagement, attunement, and expansion attached to collaborative survival by making use of body-centric design methods at sociotechnical imaginaries. This framework is productive in order to see how even experiencing the smallest, fragmented patch of grassland serves as a critical spot for ecological diversity, where a seed bank and many species can occupy a safe haven and alternative ways of living and how different actors contribute to the making of resources. Thus, by means of several case studies, rather than only uncovering the extractivist practices, this research attends to the sonic fabulation, and multisensorial ecological relationships that often get overlooked in community relations(Junka-Aikio,2017). To this end, collaborative survival rebels every day against the mining of community in the liminal space between living and dying in our environment. A multisensorial way of knowing, of sensing, holds the potential of prioritizing collaborative methods as a socializing experience that bridges the meanings of citizen participation, and thus, the everyday healing, ritual, and community of surviving for livable worlds? 

(ii) Research Plan

Purpose of the proposed research

The overall goal of this project is to better understand the relationship between multisensorial ways of knowing and the designerly characteristics of sonic fabulation readings as an invitation to look for these patches in our surroundings as opportunities to immerse in careful observations, and as a gesture of acknowledgment of the constantly fluctuating world we live in. The counter-rhythms reveal the very human frailties of our bodies and how much we depend on other people's labor to survive. This site-specific work is connected to wider constellations of embodiment, cycles of scarcity and repair, and landscape (Lockton et al., 2020) tides and flows inviting the audience into a space of collective repair and reflection on memory, histories, and emotions (Gallagher, et al, 2017).

There is a lot of conversation about the concept of "living on the land," but what implications does this hold for the ways in which humans, climate, and the environment interact under the current state of capitalism? (Mezzadra and Neilson, 2017)

Main aims
  • Identify patterns and ask why. How can we acknowledge past, present, and future patterns and avoid the abstraction and neglect of technoecological sonic responses?
  • Symbiotic Connections. Explore collectivity as paths that reveal humans’ inherent connections, the environment, and the construction of sound worlds (Voegelin, 2014; Goh, 2017).

Main questions
  • How does care act as a labor of accountability when we are listening? (Nancy, 2009) How can we acknowledge past, present, and future patterns?
  • How then might sonic possible worlds contribute to alternative perspectives in design when working towards pluriversal(Escobar,2020) socio-ecological imaginaries?

Theoretical Context and Approach

“Entre mundos y fronteras

Cuestionando lo real

El bien y mal

Lo desigual

Lo heredado, lo adquirido y lo impuesto por igual

Alma Mestiza” - Rebeca Lane

This research connects feminist political ecology, intersectionality (as defined by Noble and Tynes in 2016), and environmental justice within the complex and ongoing process of achieving fundamental sustainability transitions. Therefore, I believe it is crucial to incorporate perspectives and ideas that are not typically associated with sustainability transitions by incorporating feminist, decolonial, and design theories. This is achieved by applying these theories in a situated environment through thesis development.

Expanded Ecologies of Collaborative Survival explores the generation of community relations from a queer ecologies perspective where art is the medium between extractivism, affections, and technology(Rocha Sepulveda, 2023). As a cooperative learning project, the proposal includes a series of workshops and fabulation readings open to the public to review the historical onsite about the connections between literal and social mobility, sense of environment, and the balance of personal responsibility with collective action(Rocha Sepulveda, 2023). This ‘tactful’ way of knowing, of sensing, holds the potential to bridge the gap between ‘the sensor’ and ‘the sensed’ when it comes to the Technoecologies of sensation (Parisi, L., 2009) and to bring the data representation and interpretation close to the body as well.

Sonic Fiction and Fabulations

The concept of ‘sonic narrative’ is ideally presented in Kodwo Eshun’s ‘sonic fictions’ which encapsulates the potential of sonic worldbuilding in his widely renowned “More Brilliant Than the Sun”(2018), which he states “lingers lovingly inside a single remix, explores the psychoacoustic fictional spaces of interludes and intros, goes to extremes to extrude the illogic other studies flee”.

Building upon these principles, these connections are enhanced and complemented through a partly fictional storyline developed over five group fabulation sessions that blend design and storytelling. This critical and poetic methodology through what I call a séance of invocations of multispecies stories and practices that stir and disturb homogenous conceptions of space, time, and binary distinctions in the liminal space between living and dying of our environment. Challenging the perceived 'fixed' beginnings and endings of environmental and social violence  is my methodological proposition for design research in this work. Moreover, applying an intersectional feminist political ecology lens, we reveal our notions of care, its gaps, and multiple timelines to bring attention to our co-relations, inter-dependence, fluidity, and connectedness as humans, with our past, present, and futures (Womack, 2013).

The approach to design research in this doctoral thesis will be fundamentally intersectional, although it does not directly engage with the fields of gender studies, it attempts to connect a diverse body of work by black, feminist, and decolonial researchers that have greatly path the way to methodologies that consider the constructs of gender, race, class, and disability (Benjamin, 2019).

As first introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality theory urges us to acknowledge the existence of the patterns of oppression happening across vulnerabilities of race, class, ethnicity, ability, and gender, among others (1994). For this work, Crenshaw’s theorization is a valuable ally as it stays away from the linearity of structures and "offers a way of mediating the tension between assertions of multiple identities and the ongoing necessity of group politics" (1994).

Research Design and Methods

Details of the research design and methodology for the three proposed aims are presented here.

Aim 1. Identify patterns and ask why. How can we acknowledge past, present, and future patterns and avoid the abstraction and neglect of technoecological sonic responses?

By using movement and deep listening to envision alternatives to mainstream ideas about space and knowledge, we challenge fixed boundaries and emphasize the importance of forming relationships. Through movement and deep listening (Oliveros, 2005), we explore new ways to challenge dominant ideas about space and knowledge and question who holds the power to redefine these concepts. These location-specific exercises are connected to larger ideas about embodiment, cycles of scarcity and restoration, and the natural ebb and flow of landscapes. It invites the audience to engage in collective listening and contemplation about how land and water hold onto and release memories, histories, and emotions. The method is a complex exploration of the non-linear nature of the land.

Aim 2. Symbiotic Connections through Sonic Wayfinding. Through the implementation of case studies in a range of artistic and scientifically grounded paradigms I will explore paths that reveal humans’ inherent connections, the environment, and the intended uses of data. What we share is what we consider relevant. How to expand our living experience beyond a way to survive? Sonic Wayfinding helps us guide people through a physical environment and improve their understanding of space, especially complex built environments. This invites people to reflect deeper on their relationship with sound and the visual representations it connects them with in order to challenge their thought process between accuracy and expression, tradition and experimentation, between direction discovery.

As part of this aim, I will develop sculptural-sound deep listening exercises that allow me to expand this reframing of collective deep listening as multi-sensorial narratives that are carriers of histories, “rememories”(Morrison, 1987) that understand our environment. I plan to achieve this by engaging in experimental sound and visual techniques, including modular synthesis-composition, community-based field recordings, video documentation, and image capturing. Therefore, unfolding several entry points for a long and complex conversation of archiving and narratives as part of a fragmented, ever-changing community that meshes together what is perceived as past, present, and future.

Significance of the proposed research

This research is part of my long-term artistic project Expanded ecologies of collaborative survival started in the years of 2021. I am incredibly interested in developing a multi-sensorial open-access archives of sonic narratives that are not linear, but fragmented and fast-paced as we experience them. Following the potential of sound as a means for enabling new conceptualizations of the public sphere and expressions of emancipatory practices, I explore paths of listening as a way to “re-memory” the landscape by drawing attention to forms of collectivity, interdependence, and mutual support, between humans and non-humans, often in the face of precarity. Histories are non-linearly woven in sonic tumult and upheaval, it is resistance as music as survival. It is a noise strike. In the most basic sense, the sounds emanating can become ‘self-organized spaces of transmission’. A collaborative transmission to the senses. We can hear sound as annotated bibliography — a detailed summary or response to a source: does a frequency become a publication when it is assigned an envelope? Can an ear read?

Although new forms of collaboration involving ecologists and artists have been directing their attention towards sound as a medium to explore the present ecological crisis (Louro, et al 2021), the affective colluded synergies embedded in collectivity remain significantly unexplored. Collaborative survival, albeit previously discussed in the context of human-fungi relationships and bodily cycles (Tsing, 2015; Lie et al, 2018; helms et al, 2021), is undertheorized within the multisensorial practices and sonic fabulations that intersect these multi-species relationships and how they can be leveraged to understand our humanity (Rocha Sepulveda, 2020). Ultimately, there is a need for interdisciplinary research that brings together experts from fields such as political ecology, environmental humanities, and sound studies to develop new inquiries of collaboration beyond delimited bureaucratic frameworks, and thus  dive into the liminal multi-sensorial experiences that lead us to survival. It is not limited to imaginative or hypothetical scenarios but also acknowledges the affects of modern and colonial methods of listening, and to-be-in-listening.

One of the reasons I have applied to pursue a Ph.D. program is the relations I find in my work with fellow researchers whose work positions design as a way to create supportive structures, alternative spaces, and public narratives that aim to disrupt and open up conventional perspectives. This aligns with my aims of engaging in deep listening to imagine alternatives to “dominant ideas about space and knowledge” as we defy fixity and borders. Finally, I could see myself collaborating with colleagues and networks whose work intersects environmental inquiries and design futures through an ecofeminist lens.

(iii) Equipment and/or resources

One of the many reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. program is the broad network of minds, collectives, and networks of support where my project could flourish at greater levels.
  1. Equipment: Access to audio recording and production equipment from the Sound Workshop to capture and analyze sonic environments. This could include microphones, audio interfaces, and software for editing and analyzing audio recordings.
  2. Specialist expertise: 1) access their archive of sound work, and 2) develop a short-term engagement as part of my research in collaborative survival
  3. Archives: I may need access to archives of recorded sounds or other historical data related to the sonic environments being studied. This could include sound archives, historical documents, or other sources of data related to the soundscapes of specific regions or communities. I look forward to the possibility of collaborating with PARSE and  bridging gaps in the field of sound studies, editorial, and artistic research.

(iv) Schedule: Timeline of Research Project

Phase 0. Research Foundations-Semester 1
  • Literature
  • Finalize project descriptions
  • Practice component: Data Architectures and/or Social Acoustics
  • Outline revision

Phase 1. Work Package No.1 -Semester 2 &  Semester 3
  • Literature
  • Data Collection
  • Community practice / Experiments
  • Data Analysis
  • Conference paper/ Journal Article

Phase 2. Work Package No.1 -Semester 4
  • Literature
  • Data Collection
  • Community practice / Experiments
  • Data Analysis
  • Conference paper/ Journal Article

Phase 3, Work Package No.2 -Semester 5 & Semester 6
  • Literature
  • Data Collection: Identification of affective tools in everyday life
  • Community practice / Experiments
  • Conference paper / Journal Article

Phase 3, Work Package No.2 -Semester 7
  • Literature
  • Data Collection: Identification of affective tools in everyday life
  • Community practice / Experiments
  • Conference paper / Journal Article

Phase 4. Preparing thesis and defense -Semester 8

(v ) Literature Cited and references

Benjamin, R., 2019. Race after technology: Abolitionist tools for the new jim code. Social Forces.

Crenshaw, K., 1994. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality. Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.

Junka-Aikio, L. and Cortes-Severino, C., 2017. Cultural studies of extraction.

Escobar, A., 2020. Pluriversal politics: The real and the possible. Duke University Press.

Eshun, K., 2018. More brilliant than the sun: Adventures in sonic fiction. Verso.

Gallagher, M., Kanngieser, A. and Prior, J., 2017. Listening geographies: Landscape, affect and geotechnologies. Progress in Human Geography, 41(5), pp.618-637.

Goh, A., “Sounding situated knowledges: echo in archaeoacoustics,” Parallax 23, no. 3 (2017).

Helms, K., Søndergaard, M.L.J. and Campo Woytuk, N., 2021. Scaling Bodily Fluids for Utopian Fabulations. In Nordic Design Research Conference.

Liu, J., Byrne, D. and Devendorf, L., 2018, April. Design for collaborative survival: An inquiry into human-fungi relationships. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-13).

Lockton, D., Forlano, L., Fass, J. and Brawley, L., 2020. Thinking With Things: Landscapes, Connections, and Performances as Modes of Building Shared Understanding. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 40(6), pp.38-50.

Louro, I., Mendes, M., Paiva, D. and Sánchez-Fuarros, I., 2021. A Sonic Anthropocene. Sound Practices in a Changing Environment. Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia, 10(1), pp.3-17.

Mezzadra, S. and Neilson, B., 2017. On the multiple frontiers of extraction: excavating contemporary capitalism. Cultural Studies, 31(2-3), pp.185-204.

Morrison, T., 1987. Beloved. New York: Vintage.

Nancy, J.L., 2009. Listening. Fordham Univ Press.

Noble, S.U. and Tynes, B.M., 2016. The intersectional internet: Race, sex, class, and culture online. Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.

Oliveros, P., 2005. Deep listening: A composer's sound practice. IUniverse.

Padios, J.M., 2017. Mining the mind: emotional extraction, productivity, and predictability in the twenty-first century. Cultural studies, 31(2-3), pp.205-231.

Parisi, L., 2009. Technoecologies of sensation. Deleuze/Guattari & Ecology, pp.182-199.

Rocha Sepulveda, A., 2020. Dismantling Extractivism in Smart Living: Radical approaches to sustainability transitions.

Tsing, A.L., 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World. In The Mushroom at the End of the World. Princeton University Press.

Voegelin, Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the continuum of sound (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014), 2-3

Womack, Y., 2013. Afrofuturism: The world of black sci-fi and fantasy culture. Chicago Review Press.

Additional research and teaching material by student

Rocha Sepulveda, A., 2022. Classroom Multi-sensory practices for Collaborative liveable worlds, a toolkit for community-driven methods through art. Part of the Austrian Citizen Science Award selection of 2022, Our Planetary Garden, this collaboration between Österreichische Kuratorium für Landtechnik und Landentwicklung (ÖKL), Ars Electronica Research Institute knowledge for humanity.

Rocha Sepulveda, A., 2023. Landscape Microfutures - speculative landscape interventions, climate resilience, and future food security, with Downtown Mexico City as our primary site for speculation.

Rocha Sepulveda, A., 2021. Listening to the City: Experimental Media for Climate Futures, Materials, Sound, & Sensorial Experiences

Rocha Sepulveda, A., 2023. The Art Lab is part of the project "Our Planetary Garden"
Strategy for Open-Source
Accessible Playful Tech

hey👋️, I’m Aleyda Rocha - a creative program manager, strategist, researcher and educator with an extensive background in launching emerging creative initiatives and technologies. I'm savvy, resourceful, and thrive in teamwork to develop solutions, fostering an efficient work environment. 
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Ars Electronica
Harvard Metalab
Media Monks
The Coca-Cola Company


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