Taking space and raising a Raspberry Pi to Sophie Partridge!

“Sophie is not just a loss to the disability arts community, she is also a huge loss to female techie communities.”

Last month I delivered a presentation for ‘Taking Space’ a focus group about and for women in electronic music, hosted by Durham University.

From geo/bio sound spheres to practicing aurality, the event was a fantastic chance to meet other female practitioners working in the field.

It was also a space to discuss the lack of representation of women working in electronic music and sound – posing equally frightening and interesting questions about the vitally important female perspectives that are omitted from this field.

All the speakers were fascinating, but I particularly enjoyed Linda O Keefe and Rebecca Collins’s presentations.

O Keefe’s work incorporates ideas about environmentalism and social mobilities to explore the changing natural soundscape. Sonic reference points include the constant ‘whum, whum, whum’ generated by wind turbines, which replaces the sound of birds killed in their wake.

Collins’s presentation offered intriguing meditations on what listening is and what is a good listener? Collins’s work ‘Stolen Voices’ is inspired by the act of eavesdropping, and how we construct stories from overheard fragmented narrative.

My presentation addressed issues around hidden voices both in terms of narratives from disabled women, and my own work around the non-normative voice.

This gave way to interesting conversations about equality in general and the multiple issues that disabled women face within this male dominated field.

Sophie Partirdge

A topic of conversation which reminded me of the many insightful musings of Sophie Partridge – fellow Drake Music Artist and member of the DM Collaborate group in London.

I am proud to say that she was one of the many wonderful women I interviewed for my Womb with a View project, giving her time freely and generously.

As many of you know Sophie sadly recently passed away. There are many reasons why Sophie’s death is such a loss to our community – she was a lovely person and a well respected talented artist.

But for me personally, Sophie is not just a loss to the disability arts community, she is also a huge loss to female techie communities.

There are fewer disabled women than men working within the field of music technology, even within the disability arts sector.  There are also fewer disabled women at events for and about female practitioners.

Taking Space’ was a great event, and the organisers were genuinely inclusive and very good at accommodating my access needs.  But as the only woman working with assistive technology, I still felt a bit like an outsider.

Sophie’s pioneering work within this field was both impressive and inspiring to other disabled women, and she will be a massive loss.

Maybe we will one day be organizing a Sophie Partridge Day to celebrate disabled women in electronic music. I can just imagine it being titled:

“boys and their toys, or something, innit”!?!

I raise a Raspberry Pi to you, Sophie!

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