Norman W. Long
Long’s works create an intimate connection between soundscape and landscape. Much of his recent work has focused on his own Calumet/South Deering environs, an area that long served as an industrial center for steel manufacture in Chicagoland, as well as a home to Black and Brown neighborhoods. As the area’s neglected post-industrial sites are slowly restored as ecological spaces, Long records the transformation in progress, working to reconnect people to place through sound. A “listening garden” captures this idea of cultivation and growth as the audio track leads the listener through a lush wall of insects, birds, and wind, forming a cacophony of inter-relation among creatures in spaces once dominated by strictly human industry. Bells ring at the beginning and the conclusion of this 21-minute work, evoking the bells used to mark the start and close of Zen meditation. — AY
Neighborhood Listening Garden
2019, field recording, analog synthesizers, speakers, flowers
Artist Reflection —
Neighborhood Listening Garden is a two-speaker sound-system and native plant garden installed at the Jeffery Manor Public Library’s Reading Garden in the South Deering community in Chicago, IL, from September 21 – October 31, 2019. The South Deering community area is a former steel industrial area located on the southeast side of Chicago and is home to majority Black and Latinx residents. It was also the home of Wisconsin Steel Works, originally the Joseph H. Brown Iron and Steel Company, South Works (US Steel), Iroquois Steel, and Republic Steel.
There are several neighborhoods that make up this community: South Chicago, Jeffery Manor, South Deering, and Slag Valley. This garden provides a space for reflection, an alternate mapping of the southeast side of Chicago, inquiry (what does a Black/Brown community sound like?), ecological restoration, and resilience in the face of community disinvestment. The two-speaker outdoor sound system plays a composition made of recordings from analog synthesizers from my home studio and Elektronmusikstudion EMS in Stockholm, Sweden, Jeffery Manor, Bessemer Park, Calumet Park, Van Vlissingen Prairie, and Big Marsh Park.
About Norman W. Long
Norman W. Long is an artist/composer. His practice involves walking, collecting, performing, and recording to create objects, environments, and situations in which he and the audience are engaged in dialogues about memory space, value, silence, and the invisible. He has performed and exhibited at Experimental Sound Studio, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Hungryman Gallery, CAC Gallery, Links Hall, Elastic, and the Arts Club for the 2015 Chicago Humanities Festival. Norman has received 3Arts Award for Sound Art in 2012, 3Arts Djerassi (Woodside, CA) Artists Residency Fellowship, 3Arts Fellowship at AS220, ThreeWalls RaD Lab Fellow, Guest Composer at EMS Elektronmusikstudion, Stockholm. He has an MFA (SFAI) + Master’s of Landscape Architecture (Cornell).