Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Ultra-red & Vogue'ology

What is the Sound of Freedom?

For day two of Ultra-red’s project, the investigation will take up protocols for listening to the sound of freedom composed and facilitated by the Vogue'ology collective.


Founded in 1994 in Los Angeles, Ultra-red is a sound art and popular education collective committed to the practice of listening as a form of organizing.


The Vogue'ology collective is committed to the struggles against racism, homophobia, transphobia, and poverty. For Vogue'ology these struggles are organized by the radical performance practices of the House|Balloom scene, a creative movement of gender queer Latino/a and African Americans.



Ultra-red have been working with many different communities in New York for many years.  For their project with us, they have invited these groups to join them for 3 hours each day, and to enact, reflect upon and codify their experiences of 4 different protocols for listening, which will each address the question: what is the sound of freedom?  Each protocol will has been devised and will be led by a different invited guest: George Lewis, members of the House|Ballroom scene, Nancy Nevárez and Fred Moten.  The final session will review the previous four days and develop summary questions and propositions.

Each 3-hour session can be viewed as a performative action to be observed, or a collective learning process to be joined.



While the image serves as the foundation for much of our understanding of activist art, Ultra-red turn the focus to the ear: the sound of communities organising themselves, the acoustics of spaces of dissent, the demands and desires in our voices and in our silences, and the echoes of historical memories of struggle.

Ultra-red propose a very simply but effective switch: instead of understanding music as a process of organising sound, they take seriously the political aspect of the term ‘organising’, and they work to find ways that combine political, popular educational methods of organising with the tools of experimental music (ways of listening).  They have developed what you might call a pedagogy of the ear.


Kinds of listening involved

Freedom - to ask: what is the sound of freedom?

Organised - to replace the idea of music as organised sound, with a notion of political organising, and to use listening as a tool to aid this.


The workbook Protocols for the Sound of Freedom, created for this series of encounters, was published as part of the boxset Ultra-red: URXX Nos. 1-9. Nine Workbooks, 2010-2014, published by Buchhandlung Walther König.

  • Audio

  • Video

  • Extract

    Protocols for the Sound of Freedom

    Five individuals and collectives have prepared protocols for listening to the sound of freedom; creative musician George E. Lewis, members of the Vogue’ology collective, playwright Nancy Nevárez and organizer Samuel Sanchez, poet Fred Moten, and members of Ultra-red.

    Each of the protocols call for improvised listening that we can then reflect upon that we can then analyze that we can then test in action that we can then reflect upon that we can then . . .

    The people who have composed and who will facilitate the five protocols for listening conduct their own practices as for within learning communities.

    They come from diverse contexts while at the same time holding a commitment to the on-going project of radical social and political change.