I am a scholar activist living and working in the US and the UK. I study sound and music in audiovisual contexts: my first book, Hearing Film, discusses paths of identification offered by composed and compiled music in Hollywood films of the 1980s and 90s, and my second book, Ubiquitous Listening, discusses background listening and how it conditions distributed subjectivity. My current art practice is focused on making knit dolls with refugee and asylum seeking women and children. We work on creating dolls that look like themselves or friends or relatives—whomever they choose to make the doll to look like, including scars, missing limbs, and whatever else they find important to reproduce. (The dolls will eventually be part of an installation project.)
My background is bicultural—I grew up speaking Armenian before I spoke English, in a household where we ate both Armenian and American (and other traditions’) food, sang Armenian songs, and my parents directed an Armenian folk dance company. But I also grew up with my brother’s rock band practising in the basement and an adoration of classical Hollywood films, fed by the insomnia I shared with my dad. We watched black and white gangster, western, and noir movies together in the middle of the night.
My partner, Leo G. Svendsen, is a materials scientist who is currently working on 3D printing. (He printed the knitting looms for my doll project.) Our son, Maral K. Svendsen, is a writer and artist who has created both the online comics AB: the virus and Europa Files and the SF web series Pax Gunn. And we have a dainty little cat name Milo who really runs the household.