‘Harvard Peabody Expedition to Netherland New Guinea 1961’ is an augmented sound work composed from the archive of 37 hours of Michael Rockefeller’s audio recordings made during the famous expedition that resulted in Robert Gardner’s Dead Birds. The expedition, which was carried out in the Netherlands New Guinea (current day West Papua) aimed to provide “a comprehensive study of a single community of Neolithic warrior farmers.” Funded by the Dutch colonial government and private donations, and consisting of several of the wealthiest members of American society wielding 16mm film cameras, still photographic cameras, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and a microphone, the expedition settled for five months in the Baliem Valley, among the Hubula (also known as Dani) people. The piece documents the encounter between the expedition and the Hubula people and reflects on intertwined and complex historical moments in the development of approaches to anthropology, the lives of the Hubula and of Michael Rockefeller, and the ongoing history of colonialism in West Papua.
Ernst Karel works with sound, including electroacoustic music. His work often focuses on the practice of location recording and composing with unprocessed location recordings. In the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, Karel has collaborated with filmmakers and taught courses in reality-based audio.
Veronika Kusumaryati (1980, Bantul, Indonesia) is a political and media anthropologist working in West Papua. Her scholarship engages with the theories of colonialism, decolonization, and postcoloniality. She has worked as a curator and produced documentaries and is currently a Harvard College Fellow in Anthropology.
- PRODUCTION : Sensory Ethnography Lab