Khamoosh* is a participatory artistic research project that mediates conservation and restoration by exploring the sonic heritage of Iran through recorded sounds of everyday life; sounds less heard or even silenced. This process-based project aims to build an interactive archive of sounds and to exchange, resurrect and decolonize these sounds using artistic methods.

Khamoosh is focused on an aspect of Iranian sonic heritage that is less explored and acknowledged compared to the more commonly investigated traditions of music — i.e., related to instruments and poetry. In other words, as we mentioned, the aim of Khamoosh is to foreground the sounds less heard and less documented within their cultural contexts. Such
sounds represent and embody time, the local lore, cultural practices of the vernacular, and ecologies, many of which are created outside of musical frameworks. Better yet, the focus of this project is a space of listening in which the boundaries between music and other sounds are blurred.

Workers' tools making sequential rhythmic patterns, shepherds’ calls, rituals, games, ceremonies, Shalikari (rice planting) songs, lullabies, and other environmental sounds indicative of a particular space such as the call of birds in a specific area or during a particular season, or the flurry of various insects are some examples of these sounds. The facing chart shows one way of (re)writing the categories of the Iranian sonic heritage.

"Kalafat-e Koobi" by Mohammadreza Darvishi
Ear 3, Audio Magazine, Mahriz Recordings

Parallel to developing a web archive compiled for artistic and anthropological research, we seek to collectively decolonize, reinterpret, edit and resample this collection using artistic methods and processes. We also seek to collect sounds that were marginalized, lost, silenced,
or remained out of public reach and re-contextualize them within the contemporary timeframe. In this effort, we hope to document and preserve such sounds as part of Iranian aural heritage and reassert their forgotten cultural and historical significance.

This ongoing process is curated by an inclusive, collaborative, and collective approach formed by various peoples from both specialized and local communities in practice with these sounds, as well as the more-than-human — e.g., plants, insects, and birds. This proposal itself
is an invitation for participation. There are many different ways to contribute to this project, which you can find more about by clicking on the Contribute Icon on this page.

In this research three main phases are defined:

1) Research and Curation

Phase one represents research, gathering, and archiving sounds from multiple sources including labels from Iran and abroad, field recordings of private collections, local communities, and available archives from museums, universities, as well as media excerpts such as film and radio. This phase allows us to 1) better understand and critically analyze the
scenarios that have led to certain sounds being silenced, and 2) gain a deeper understanding of the role that environment plays for individuals and collectives within their cultural, social, and historical contexts.
What connects this phase to the next one is the detailed documentation and ethical curation of entries within the digital archive; creating space for exploring, finding, and interacting with these sounds in new ways. In doing so, a set of information including tags and a list of metadata is utilized to index each entry. Users can also suggest information and contribute to
the archive by submitting new entries via a form. Below is an example of how each entry is indexed.

2) Contextualization and Interaction

The second phase represents ethical curation through collaboration and implementation of interactive elements within the digital archive using creative and participatory methods as well as, editing and sampling the entries when needed. This phase, therefore, creates space for different kinds of contextualizing and interpreting the entries, e.g. artistic, anthropologic and pedagogic. Also, this stage helps us realize different dimensions of these sounds, (re)contextualize them within the creative musical heritage of Iran and share new ways to engage with them as artists and researchers. Finally, through such engagement, search features
are improved and modified on an ongoing basis. The latter aims to improve the user experience and efficacy of the archive as it expands.

3) Resurrection and Reinterpretation

Phase three demonstrates a more in-depth engagement with these materials through public engagement and creative expressions such as composition, installation, and performance. Each piece made with sounds from the archive or other possible resources would be integrated into the archive as a new entry. An approach to restore and revive the unheard sounds within the sonic heritage is to employ them in various contexts inclusively and
ethically. This is a stage where we collectively and actively listen to and remember what has been silenced. A few sonic examples in the format of mixes and radio shows are included in the Listening Page of this website.

As this work moves forward, more collaborative and inclusive engagement means a greater chance for the restoration and preservation of the heritage. Out of this inclusive approach, different groups have emerged that extend Khamoosh but also follow their own trajectories. Avanameh (meaning sound glossary) is a group dedicated to the development of a soundrelated glossary in Farsi and other languages and dialects spoken in Iran; researching and gathering both the colloquial and technical literature pertaining to the sonic heritage. Kativa is a field recorder that travels person by person throughout and possibly beyond Iran to
collectively record sounds. A group is dedicated to watching films with a focus on their sounds, exploring the sonic heritage through documentaries and ethnographic films.

Participation and collaboration:

A crucial aspect of this process-based project is collaboration and participation. Everyday is the name of the community within Khamoosh, a collective of listeners and sound enthusiasts from various communities around the world. We come together in the shared intimacy of sound through the tools of technology and time. Hearing the relationship between sound and language is in an ongoing process formed by both well-known and unknown contributors as well as by nonhumans, broadening the listening sphere of our extended collective. Our methodology is guided by community-based participation, collaboration, research as a network, and an ongoing process of learning by doing. Everyday is a freeform group effort in which each contributor is able to gain upon deciding their own role and degree of participation. Accordingly, the decolonized approach of Khamoosh includes silent or less heard voices in its process and highlights the strengths within differences between members of the community. Such context expands the sonic heritage of Iran beyond its geographical borders and situates it within diasporic, marginalised, and previously torn spheres and spaces.

Moreover, such an approach leads the way our budget is spent, mainly creating space in which the whole community benefits. Bartering, exchange of knowledge, subscriptions and access to resources are among other ways employed by Everyday to join and partner with other communities.
Khamoosh has received funding from the Heritage Management organization-HERITAGE (Greece) in partnership with the Goethe-Institut (Germany) and the Centre for Fine Arts Brussels – BOZAR (Belgium). This project will continue on and therefore, needs ongoing support to maintain. Conservation and restoration are processes that begin without an end. There will always be a sound to be heard, even those forgotten, even those silenced.

Rocks murmur too
Listen, the 'silents' speak more eloquently
— Fereydoon Moshiri
*Khamoosh (xɑːmʊʃ). Interpreted as “silence” in Farsi, it is also a notion in Iranian poetry and culture that points to a spiritual experience that goes beyond silence as the absence of sounds. Khamoosh almost always includes a presence. It is a space in which silence can be wisely chosen and implies the politics of silence. This notion described by many Persian poets entails attentive listening, presence, and avoidance of unnecessary action.