Ernst Karel works in the area of reality-based audio, including sound recording, electroacoustic music, experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance, image-sound collaboration, and postproduction sound for nonfiction film.
A mind-expanding inquiry on anthropology—how it speaks and for whom—and on cinema itself.Manohla Dargis, New York Times, Ten Best Films of 2022
Michael Rockefeller’s sound recordings made during Robert Gardner’s 1961 expedition to West Papua are the starting point for Expedition Content, an experimental ethnographic film composed by Veronika Kusumaryati, a political and media anthropologist working in West Papua, and sound artist and sound designer Ernst Karel, both associated with Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. The resulting almost imageless film provides an immersive listening experience while shedding new light on Hubula daily life, the expedition, and anthropology. As Leo Goldsmith noted, the film “foregrounds the (re)construction of sonic spaces as an inherently political act, both as the acquisition and labeling of anthropological data and as the forensic project of bringing buried, untranslated, and frequently silenced voices to the fore.”
Robert Gardner, United States, 1961–2021