JOSEPH NAMY    work . exhibitions . radio . contact





2012-ongoing, variable channel sound performance for cars w/super modified stereo systems


Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please?
If I open my door
In cars

-Gary Numan "Cars"


Some people listen to music. Some people feel music.

Some people feel music with dance, or in meditation, or through enormous sub woofers in the trunk of their car that pushes air so hard it can make your hair trick out. This air is passion. This passion is bass, and the car is: a getaway, a chase, the escape.

Escapism has always been an adjective used to describe the dance. That's an outsider's view. Solidarity is what it really offers…1

In Beirut the cars line up along the corniche, open their doors, and play music to the sea. Waves spill over the distorted synths. A ritual for bass: windows down, doors open, volume up. We performed this ritual on the street in front of Homeworks (2012 and 2013). In stereo automobiles ignite engines and speakers simultaneously. On the corniche in Abu Dhabi (2019) we played the sound systems they only play loud in the desert. In Gwangju (2016) cars turned up with the cherry blossoms on the May 18 Democracy Square, where the uprising took place. Machine music for waves and peoples and uprisings. Big bass cars gather in after hour parking lots and outside the National Theater in Mannheim (2013), the second home of the automobile. Bass societies sound clash out front of roti joints and under the bridge in front of Toronto's parliament building (2017). Crews meet in Montreal (2016) at the giant Orange Julep and the Mies Van Der Rohe most beautiful gas station ever. In Detroit, the first home of the automobile, they party in gas stations too, cruise Belle Isle BBQ's, or meet up on the corner of Warren and Livernois.2  

Roads are the infinity of things.3

On the open road, bass drifts, bass migrates.4 There is something fundamentally human about bass. It taps into our subconscious, it resonates deep inside us. Even though speakers have only been around since the 1930s, and subwoofers since the 1960s, it speaks to our most primal senses. Shortly after speakers were invented, DJ's were invented. Different types of music - such as dub and techno - were also invented and required new speaker sound designs, systems built to reproduce the new sounds. Ali Bazooka builds his sound systems to be big, bulky, wires exposed - digital South Beirut “Bazookas,” slang in Beirut for powerful automobile speaker systems, designed for throwing amplified distorted synthesizers playing digitized ancient futuristic folk songs, or techno. In Gwangju, Mr. Kim's elegant designs are clean and exact. One of the sound systems belonged to an iron workers union leader, so we played a union song during the performance. The UAE is more Hollywood with their systems, Montreal is more DIY, all are beautiful.

Dancers, Buildings, People in the Street.

Music is to architecture, as dance is to music. If you listen to music in a car, the acoustics are indebted to the road, or the sea, or a gas station.  In cars, we are somewhere, in music we are somewhere else. What we love about noise is the way we lose ourselves in it.5 This loss of self is actually a hyper-awareness of the self, moving through feeling, in solidarity.

––Montreal, September 2016 (updated March 2019)


1  Theo Parrish, 2016 Facebook post after the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.

2  Youtube from a summer meet up in Detroit's Warren & Livernois.

3  Susan Stewart, Roads, 1974.

4  “Relatively free movement of sounds (and other commodities) across the border contrasts with the relatively restricted movement of musicians and their audiences.” Melina Sherman, Bass Migrations, 2014.

5  Elizabeth Newton, The Lossless Self, 2016.





7th iteration, on the corniche in Abu Dhabi for Durub Al Tawaya, 2019




6th iteration, in front of the Ontario Parliament Building for Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2017



5th iteration, at the Mies Van Der Rohe gas station for La Biennale de Montréal, 2016:



4th iteration, at The Time Is Out Of Joint, 2016 in Gwangju:



3rd iteration, at Theater Der Welt, 2014 in Mannheim:



2nd iteration, at Homeworks 6, 2013 in Beirut:



1st iteration, at Ashkal Alwan, 2012 in Beirut: