where is the howl? is titled so for two specific reasons. The first, as an homage to the blues musician Chester Arthur Burnett better known by his stage name Howlin’ Wolf. The second is for the gesture of howling itself. A howl can be a call for help and attention when impacted by violence, a howl is also language and a desire for community within canine species. Within the social hierarchy of caste, Indian native dogs and caste marginalised communities have long interlinked histories of symbiotic relationships. A howl is a primal response, which the work takes as a prompt to invoke the gesture of immersive listening, of consciously paying attention to the layers in the work.
This piece unfolds as a composition drawing from sonic explorations of themes of connection, belonging and a desire to hold onto the tangible materiality of the natural world. Bringing together field recordings, electronic synthesis and foley sounds, the work reflects a perpetual seeking for connection and a shared resonance with human and more-than human beings in a yet unknown future.
The field recordings comprise sounds of the natural environment both found and collected in relation to specific geographic locations in the artist’s home state of Karnataka. Emphasis is placed on the auditory properties of human interaction with these landscapes and sonic memories of seasonal changes are invoked across the length of the composition. Alluding to a sense of journey-making, the work brings a sense of atmospheric presence by bridging natural sounds with electronic ones.
Vishal Kumaraswamy is an artist-curator working across text, film, sound, performance and computational arts. His practice draws from his Dalit heritage to investigate a range of critical concerns around caste, race and technology. His works have been shown at the Venice Biennale’s Research Pavilion, ARKO Art & Tech Festival, SITE Gallery Sheffield, Contemporary Calgary, HKW Berlin and he is currently exhibiting at the Rencontres d'Arles. Vishal is a current research fellow at the Center for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry and is the inaugural curator for the Equity Builder at Arts House, City of Melbourne for 2023 and 2024. He lives and works in Bengaluru, India.