S1E6: Oceans

On “Oceans”

We recorded our interviews for episode 6: “Oceans” across vast stretches of water (and land). Our conversation with Juliana Snapper and Andrew Infanti was literally all over the place. Juliana was in Izimir (Turkey), Andrew in Paris, my cohost Joy Calico in Nashville, and I was in Montevideo (Uruguay), looking down on the muddy waters of the Rio de la Plata. And when we talked to Melody Jue, we brought Santa Barbara into the mix as well. Both conversations lasted for quite some time, but by their respective ends both Joy and I felt they could have gone on for much longer because we so much enjoyed talking with our interlocutors!

The Rio de la Plata is an odd body of water. From our apartment window, it looked as if it was an ocean, expanding all the way to the horizon line. A string of great town beaches curve around the shape of Montevideo. Local people use them as if they were the most pristine ocean beaches you could imagine, despite the water’s rather uninviting color and the absence of anything that could really be called a wave. During my three-week stay in Montevideo, I really learned to love the city’s waterfront: the sight of thousands of people strolling down the so-called Rambla every night to wind down after a busy day; kids playing soccer in the sand at the edge of the water; the big sky above the water. The options for swimming, let alone diving, were rather limited. So, there was no way to experience the kind of buoyancy Melody describes in this episode as a crucial element of the life aquatic, of transcending he demands of gravity and bi-pedal terrestrialism. And trying to sing under water, like Juliana, trying to push the body’s and voice’s limits to their extreme, didn’t really appear wise either.

And yet, even though neither Juliana and Andrew, nor Melody had the Rio de la Plata in mind when thinking about what oceans can do for us—and what we have done to the planet’s oceans—the image of the river’s oceanic width and drama will remain edged into my memory when recalling the making of this particular episode.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

S1E6 | Oceans

S1E6 | Oceans

You can listen to this and other episodes on Spotify | Apple | Google Podcasts.

Follow this link for a transcript of this episode.

Co-hosts: Joy Calico and Lutz Koepnick

For this episode musicologist Joy Calico joins Lutz Koepnick as co-host to discuss contemporary projects dedicated to the planet’s oceans in distress. We speak with Juliana Snapper and her collaborator Andrew Infanti about their unique opera,You Who Will Emerge from the Flood. A soprano who combines radical vocal techniques and improvisation, Snapper’s underwater performances not only push the operatic medium to its extreme limits but ask tough questions about the role of music and art in face of our planetary crises. We also hear from media scholar and ocean humanist Melody Jue about what she calls our terrestrial bias and how we can change our relation to the planet’s troubled oceans—and the environment in general—if we assumed the perspective of a scuba diver.

Please visit Juliana Snapper’s website for more information about her many groundbreaking projects and performances.

A brief video showing some of the initial performances of You Who Will Emerge from the Flood can be found here.

For more information about Melody Jue and her inspiring book Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) please follow this link.

Also mentioned in this episode:

Sun & Sea (Marina), an opera-performance by by filmmaker and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, writer Vaiva Grainytė and artist and composer Lina Lapelytė.

Jacques Costeau’s film The Silent World (1956)

TBA21 Academy: Ocean Space, founded by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza.

John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea (2015)

Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable (2017).

Rahmin Bahrani’s short film Plastic Bag (2009), featuring the voice of Werner Herzog.

Max Liboiron: Pollution is Colonialism (Duke University Press, 2021)