Nguyễn + Transitory (Nguyễn Baly & Tara Transitory)
Close At Hand – Imagining Queer Futures Through The Interplay Of Touch And Sound
For a practice based on the immateriality of sound, concerned with the fleeting nature of touch, the daily practice of transmission, being vulnerable as a matter of intention, prioritising the collective over the individual, we find ourselves at a critical crossroads brought about by age, and the push-pull of global events where auto-reflexivity has reached its existential limits. In a reality that is constantly telling us we are heading towards extinction, can an artistic practice provide a sense of hope and stay relevant here as well as in Southeast Asia?
We intend to research the associations of touch in different cultural contexts; as queer artists of colour we know of the many realities that exist in queer circles here and to a lesser extent in parts of Southeast Asia. A common thread shared amongst queer circles globally is their definitive distance from a heteronormative regime, despite all recent efforts to gain acceptance on a wider national level, as for example here in Germany. Therefore, it is important to ask how we can imagine and construct queer futures in ways that go beyond the dominant narratives.
Why do we choose touch as a medium when it is clear that it has become exclusive, reduced to one’s closest circles, deleted completely from one’s larger social interactions, something associated with danger and seen as a reckless act that invites disease? If touch can be reclaimed as a tool of political process, then how can sound as a medium be a vehicle for touch?
Touch reflects our connection or disconnection with and from others, making it essential to investigate the possibilities of touch as a methodology of reducing distance and reconnecting segregated communities. Touch itself is a deeply cultural, political and situational act. As migrant bodies living in Europe, or non-heteronormative bodies living in postcolonial lands, we quite often grapple with the question of what it means to touch and be touched. Up until now, we have come to understand that touch can be a strategy to coexist with others and to accept differences, that touch is a form of care, connection and transmission, and a positive reinforcement, although all of this is situational.
Nguyễn + Transitory is composed of Nguyễn Baly and Tara Transitory. Their work crosses the disciplines of sound, performance, and installation. Working mainly with modular synthesisers and analog tape, they attempt to approach sound, synthesis, noise, rhythm and performance through a less colonial lens – looking into how frequencies, the physicality of producing sounds and its incidental vibrations relate to cognitive memories, stored emotions and catharsis. Their practice involves the effort to empirically learn more about various Southeast Asian and diasporic queer existences and lost histories. Their recent works include the performance Symphony Of Intimacies, the sound installation Topography Of Vulnerabilities #1, #2, #3, #4 and Bird Bird, Touch Touch, Sing Sing, an immersive site-specific installative sound performance which has been presented at CTM Festival, Berlin; Serralves Museum, Porto; Ultima Music Festival, Oslo; WORM, Rotterdam; Submerge Festival, Bristol; House of electronic Arts, Basel; and PACT Zollverein, Essen (all 2019) among others. Besides their artistic practice, they run their own mastering studio called Queer Ear Mastering.