Jose A. Rivera (aka Proxemia) is a multimedia artist and architectural designer who creates electroacoustic music and experimental sound works. Investigating the intersections of aural and spatial experience, his varied practice incorporates multichannel audio installation and performance, sound design for film, location recording and phonography, cartography, graphic design, publication, and architecture.
Like the physical characteristics of sound, our immediate perceptual experience of the world is different from one moment to the next in the formlessness of continuous flux. By charting the ephemeral, he probes this flux with an active and attentive process of capturing and presenting various processes of becoming. The use of location recording from various spaces and places is thus seen to integrate the role of retrospection in an ongoing creation of identity. Jose’s work generates the moment from memories of what was, and through an expectancy of can be, allows us to inhabit what is. Among emancipated timespace fragments, an existence in a present of memories is designed.
He regards architecture as a woven container of associations that include sound’s ability to simultaneously operate on social, cultural, physical, and phenomenological levels. Audition is less about the representation of what is observed, and more about experiencing a continual process that binds together a range scattered events of relationality. However, Jose often regards this cohesion as lateral, emphasizing indeterminacy and acceptance of uncertainty over linear narration. As a result, he provokes the aural imagination as an experience in time — a mode of embodied being where meaning takes shape through multiplicity.
While at MIT, Jose’s work with sound has transformed the presence of multiple spaces through installation. He has cultivated an intimate sensitivity to the dynamic sounding environment that characterizes the high-powered spaces around the campus where his work was situated. Most recently, he has examined MITs development of radar technologies, and was inspired by meteorology and the history of weather mapping. In particular, Jose focused on the synoptic map, which brings together multiple dynamic systems as an attempt to understand the variability of weather conditions. He now considers the sound installation as an aural cartography in practice—a synsonic mapping—an embodied spatio-sonic process enacted to address relationality with a geography, an architecture, its history, and the bodies that occupy it.
Recent works have been exhibited at ICA Boston (Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957), Holyoke’s City Hall, MIT’s MediaLab and List Visual Art Center, Harvard’s CCVA, and Le Laboratoire in Cambridge. Along with numerous collaborations and audio works that have been shown internationally, his fluid body of work also includes an open-air performance space for a youth dance and drumming group in rural Ghana.