No Places with Names: A Critical Acoustic Archaeology

Photo credit: Dianne Stromberg

Sound Installation Artist
Teri Rueb
Larry Phan

No Places with Names:
A Critical Acoustic Archaeology

With contributions from artist
Carmelita Topaha (Dine)

SFAI Exhibition and Sound Walk
with IAIA Digital Dome Presentation
IAIA Sound Walk and Digital Dome Presentation
Opening Reception
Saturday, September 22
5-7pm @ IAIA Digital Dome
ISEA2012 Santa Fe Day
Tuesday September 25
9am – noon @ IAIA Digital Dome
Sound Walk runs through October 26 and into the future (see web site for updates on mobile app release):

SFAI Exhibition
Opening Reception
Saturday, September 22
3 – 4:30pm @ SFAI Lobby
ISEA2012 Santa Fe Day
Tuesday September 25
9am – 4pm @ SFAI Lobby
Exhibition runs through
October 26
Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

Santa Fe, NM– “What is the significance of the idea of wilderness in contemporary culture?” Wilderness as an idea has traditionally fueled colonial, spiritual and environmentalist agendas, but conversations with local artists, scientists, archaeologists, and Santa Fe area residents reveal the diverse attitudes and perceptions held within the mix of cultures that define the contemporary American Southwest.

No Places with Names: A Critical Acoustic Archaeology (sound walk opens on September 19; exhibition reception with sound walk and IAIA dome presentation September 22; ISEA Santa Fe Day September 25) project is the culmination of an ISEA2012 residency with artist Teri Rueb, who pioneered this form of GPS-based interactive installation with her project “Trace” developed at the Banff Centre for the arts from 1996-1999. Her collaborators on the project are Larry Phan & Carmelita Topaha.

Viewers will walk through the landscapes surrounding the Institute for American Indian Art (IAIA) in Santa Fe, where this GPS-based sound walk weaves spoken word and sound into the trails that traverse the IAIA campus. A custom mobile phone app allows sounds to play back in response to the visitors’ movement and location which are sensed by GPS. A limited number of devices will be available for loan from the IAIA through October 26 (see project web site for details).  Unlike most location-aware apps, this custom software creates a unique relationship between one’s physical movement through the landscape and sounds that emerge as if from the site itself.  A free downloadable app made for the public spaces of the IAIA campus will be released in 2012 allowing visitors with mobile phones to access the sound walk at any time, even after the exhibition. A spatialized sound composition designed for IAIA’s 24-foot by 12-foot Digital Dome, the only fully articulating dome in the world that can move 90 degrees, serves as a companion piece to the sound walk, allowing visitors an alternative mode for experiencing the sounds.  A “visitor center” and series of critical mappings will be presented as an exhibition at the Santa Fe Art Institute.

Larry Phan, an emerging artist based in New Mexico, has created ceramic sculptures for the installation that punctuate the landscape and soundscape, bringing awareness to the colors, textures and history of human presence on the site.

Rueb (who is also an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute) and her collaborators chose the IAIA campus because of its beauty and significance as an institution dedicated to education around cultural difference.  Among the core institutional values that reflect this mission is, “Respect, expressed by fostering an understanding of cultures, perspectives and identities.”

The title of the piece comes from the first passages of the Navajo creation story as translated by Paul Zolbrod, “We hear of no places with names to the north.”

This project is part of ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness.

About Teri Rueb and her Collaborators:
Teri Rueb ( works at the intersection of interactive media, sound, land and environmental art.  She pioneered the form of GPS-based interactive installation with her project “Trace” which was developed at the Banff Centre for the arts from 1996-1999.  She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction in 2008 for her project “Core Sample” set on a landfill in the Boston Harbor.  She is a CalArts Alpert Award nominee for 2012 and was twice nominated for the Rockefeller New Media Award and the Boston ICA Foster Prize.

Larry Phan ( is a studio artist based in Farmington, New Mexico.   He is a maker of functional ceramic objects and an educator at San Juan College.  As a first generation Asian American, his practice incorporates concepts of family, community and daily ritual experiences.  Phan received his BFA in Ceramics and Sculpture from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.  He has been a resident artist at The Clay Studio of Missoula in Missoula, Montana and his work has been exhibited throughout the United States.

Carmelita Topaha is a member of the Navajo Nation, Newcomb Chapter.  She has worked as a consulting anthropologist, archaeologist, and ethnographer on a variety of projects, including a decade-long cross-cultural inquiry into landscape and language.  She is a weaver, potter, and a writer and teaches courses at San Juan College.

In addition to SFAI / ISEA sponsorship, this project has been generously supported by the University at Buffalo, Department of Media Study and The Digital Humanities Initiative at Buffalo.  Credits:  mobile app development, Tom Stoll, Kitefish Labs, Inc.; sound design, Michael Bouquard.

About ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness
Re-envisioning Art, Technology and Nature
The Eighteenth International Symposium on Electronic Art, ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness is a symposium and series of events exploring the discourse of global proportions on the subject of art, technology and nature. ISEA2012 is part of a series that started in 1988 and is overseen by the ISEA International foundation. The International Symposium on Electronic Art have become the most important academic gathering on electronic art world-wide and aim at bringing together the works of art and science. ISEA is a nomadic event. Albuquerque is the first host city in the U.S. in six years. The next editions are ISEA2013 in Sydney, Australia and ISEA2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The ISEA2012 symposium will consist of a conference September 19 – 24, 2012 based in Albuquerque with outreach days along the state’s “Cultural Corridor” in Santa Fe and Taos, and an expansive, regional collaboration throughout the fall of 2012, including art exhibitions, public events, performances and educational activities. This project will bring together a wealth of leading creative minds from around the globe, and engage the local community through in-depth partnerships.

Machine Wilderness references the New Mexico region as an area of rapid growth and technology alongside wide expanses of open land, and aims to present artists’ and technologists’ ideas for a more humane interaction between technology and wilderness in which “machines” can take many forms to support life on Earth. Machine Wilderness focuses on creative solutions for how technology and the natural world can sustainably co-exist.

ISEA2012 Santa Fe day will be September 25th. For more info, please visit

ISEA2012 is organized by 516 ARTS, and hosted with the University of New Mexico, The Albuquerque Museum, and partners.

About the SFAI:
Founded in 1985, the Santa Fe Art Institute’s mission is to promote art as a positive social force — both in our community and around the world — and to highlight art as a powerful tool for facilitating dialogue, bridging perspectives, and evoking visions of a better future.

About IAIA:
The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only four-year degree fine arts institution in the nation devoted to contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. IAIA’s mission is to empower creativity and leadership in Native arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning and outreach. IAIA also operates two centers, the Center for Lifelong Education and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.


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