Wave Farm Artist-in-Residence: Lisa Schonberg

Sep 08, 2023 - Sep 17, 2023
Wave Farm + WGXC Acra Studio


Lisa Schonberg at Wave Farm

Lisa Schonberg at Wave Farm. Photographed by Lucy Bohnsack. (Sep 14, 2023)

At the ant hill

At the ant hill. Photographed by Lucy Bohnsack. (Sep 14, 2023)

Lisa Schonberg with a refuge for ants

Lisa Schonberg with a refuge for ants. Photographed by Lucy Bohnsack. (Sep 14, 2023)

Lisa Schonberg with the ants

Lisa Schonberg with the ants. Photographed by Lucy Bohnsack. (Sep 14, 2023)

Schonberg's Refuge System for Ants

Schonberg's Refuge System for Ants. Photographed by Lucy Bohnsack. (Sep 14, 2023)

Lisa Schonberg Portrait

Lisa Schonberg Portrait.

The radio-frequency spectrum for human cellular phone communication has increased in frequency as we have increased the speed and capacity of information between communication points. There has been little discussion about the impact this increased frequency–and the much smaller wavelengths it travels in–might have on beyond-human species who live alongside us and along transmission pathways. Refuge System for Ants contemplates the effects wavelengths above 5 Ghz might have on ants, whose small body size makes them more susceptible to impacts of absorption of these frequencies. Many species of ants communicate acoustically, and can sense vibration through specialized organs on their legs. Humans are largely unaware of these cryptic sounds that are beyond the limits of human hearing. How does our ease of communication interact with their own communication and quality of life? Schonberg will install prototypes for “EMF refuge systems” that attempt to block cellular radio frequencies in the vicinity of ant nests at Wave Farm, giving the ants refuge from its effects at their sites of congregation, reproduction and shelter. At these sites, humans will be prompted to listen to the sounds of ants amplified through speakers, bringing our attention to insect agency and needs.

Lisa Schonberg is a composer and percussionist creating sound works based on ecological research. Informed by her background in entomology, Schonberg is interested in how listening to cryptic sound can reveal and challenge assumptions about insects and other overlooked soundmakers. She has been collaborating with Brazilian entomologists on ATTA (Amplifying the Tropical Ants), a project investigating ant bioacoustics in the Amazon. Her other recent work includes investigations of old-growth forests in Oregon, endangered Hawaiian Hylaeus bees, mushrooms, and plastics. Schonberg's compositions are performed by percussion ensembles Secret Drum Band, Antenna, & UAU, and presented as solo performance and installation. She is the author of Text Scores for Getting to Know the Invertebrates, The Hylaeus Project, and the The DIY Guide to Drums, and has presented work or performed at FILE Festival (BR), the Pompidou, the Brooklyn Museum, Bosque da Ciencia (BR), the American Museum of Natural History, and Museo Reina Sofia (SP). Schonberg has developed her work through residencies at Labverde, the Banff Centre, Pioneerworks, HJ Andrews Experimental Station, and Signal Fire.