Macho Sounds/ Gender Noise
a project by Sofia Dona & Daphne Dragona
Macho Sounds / Gender Noise explores how contemporary perceptions of gender are influenced by sounds designed and embedded in today’s technologies. Looking especially into the role of the automobile industry, the project takes as a starting point the artificially produced sounds of the conventional or electric cars of the present, and of the self-driving cars of the future. It discusses how vehicles –that would otherwise be silent– involve fake engine sounds to manifest their acceleration and power, and have artificial voices set by default as female to please and assist the driver.
The car, from the past until now, has been understood as a machine with a female body, offered to be ridden, possessed and controlled. This has produced a gendered iconography where women are objectified, but it has also given birth to a rich genealogy of powerful feminist resistance in relation to it. The project addresses the impact of patriarchal machines on the social construction of gender, and raises questions through feminist and queer perspectives: What will the voice and the engine of tomorrow’s car sound like, and who will be addressed? How can the stereotypes and prejudices reproduced through technologies be opposed? What does the car –as a powerful machine– stand for, in times of economic, societal and climate crisis? Which vehicles can drive us to messy and noisy places and worlds beyond binaries, hierarchies and categorizations?
The project is an an audiovisual installation combining video, sound and kinetic elements inspired by literature on cars, queer and feminist approaches on technology, as well as field work conducted in the city of Stuttgart. Motor mouths, artificial voices, human and machine written texts come together to expose and discuss the gendering of technologies on a symbolic and material level.
Macho Sounds/ Gender Noise was developed within the framework of the Hannsmann-Poethen literary scholarship of the state capital Stuttgart, that Sofia Dona Daphne Dragona were awarded in 2020.
It is presented as part of DIE IRRITIERTE STADT festival in cooperation with the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
3-channel video installation
Camera: Sofia Dona
(29 min, color, full HD, stereo)
Performers: Anna Pangalou, Stavros and Ilias Grillis
Editing: Red Light Studio, Sofia Dona
Excerpts from the video [CAR ASMR] by Motline
Text: Daphne Dragona
(12:23 min, color, full HD)
RNN generated text: Lukas Rehm
Animation: Matthias Fritsch
Design: Sofia Dona
(Object from rubber, metal, plastic
overall dimensions: 43cm x 100cm 170cm)
Production: Lazaridis Studio
With our warmest thanks to Sofia Bempeza, Alexandros Bempezas, Jakob Berger, Evi Kalogiropoulou, Christine Fischer, Liz Flyntz, S-K-A-M e.V. (Joseph Michaels, Nikola Lutz, Arlette Probst), Matteo Pasquinelli, Thalia Raftopoulou, Eva-Maria Rembor, Christiane von Seebach, Renzo Vitale, Claudia Wronski, Lagios Recycle Cars, Tountas Garage.