Michael McDermott

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A recent interest in the nexus of sound art, music composition, meditation, Deep Listening and sonic ecology is a practice I call Sonic Photography. A specific project I am working in this discipline is called Echozoo. Echozoo is a sound-design project recreating the sonic environments and calls of extinct animals. The project will be a smartphone application that will use geo-location to play the sounds of extinct creatures from the user’s current locale. With the alarming extinction rate currently underway in this “Sixth Extinction”, I feel that remembering and examining what creatures we have lost through their sonic echo is vitally important to foster a sense of connection and responsibility for the web of life here on Earth today.


I am currently developing phase one of the project using creatures that went extinct in North America. My hope is to expand this to creatures from South America in 2017 and then Asia in 2018. In 2016 I traveled around the United States and Canada field recording living creatures and environments to try and synthesize and extrapolate what extinct animals and their habitats would sound like. In 2018 I will record the current soundscapes of sections of Asia as source material for the Asian version of the Echozoo project creating sonic portraits and landscapes of extinct reptiles, birds, mammals and insects from that region.

You can read an article about the project here:http://www.phillyvoice.com/philly-sound-artist-imagines-lost-songs-natural-world/

Philly sound artist imagines the lost songs of the natural world

I am especially interested in taking some trips into the rural sections of northern Thailand for field recording. Then I will edit and create the stylized extinction environments back at the studio. As a sound artist I travel with my own equipment, but if there were speakers available for me to use, that would be helpful to allow me to share sketches with the other residence and for possible collaboration. I could also present some of the sound designed field recordings I capture during my stay in some sort of concert / talk at the end of my residency.

Landscapes 1: Ilhabela

Michael Reiley McDermott is a composer and sound artist. He has created works for video, dance, stage, installation, smart phones, multi-speaker arrays, wind sculptures, wishing wells and deep sleep. His practice explores the relationship between present moment awareness, deep time and humanity’s personal connection through listening. His work integrates a daily practice of meditation, Deep Listening and textured sound worlds through a process he calls “sonic photography”. This process involves site specific recordings of physical spaces re-imagined using photographic development and collage techniques. His aim is to reframe the everyday world as both a grand statement that stretches out in both directions of time and as an ephemeral instant of precious connection.  Michael’s work has been presented and performed in New York City, London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna and extensively in his home city of Philadelphia. He has studied Deep Listening with Pauline Oliveros at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has taken master classes with Gene Coleman and Morton Subotnik. In 2016 Michael was Artist in Residence at in Philadelphia, Ayatana in Ottawa and Composer in Residence for Temple University’s BEEP Ensemble. In 2017 he will be composer in residence at The Village of Arts and Humanities teaching children about Deep Listening and field recording and creating sonic photographs with them for a forthcoming project called Mixes from the Field.