Emeka Ogboh featuring Ursula Rucker, Logan Squared: Ode to Philly

Emeka Ogboh featuring Ursula Rucker


Logan Squared: Ode to Philly (2017)

Mixed-media sound installation

Emeka Ogboh creates soundscapes to honor and understand cities. For Logan Squared: Ode to Philly, the artist collaborated with renowned Philadelphia poet Ursula Rucker and members of the Chestnut Street Singers, drawing on the ideas of hundreds of Philadelphians who submitted proposals during Monument Lab’s 2015 discovery phase. Ogboh noted, “The point of departure for this work begins with what the city of Philadelphia remembers and what it chooses not to remember in terms of its history. The question is put across its citizenry in the form of research feedback.”

Responding to the open dataset of proposals, Rucker composed an epic poem that served as the backbone of the project. Each Sunday, visitors were invited to experience a special weekly listening of a multichannel sound installation on the Skyline Terrace atop the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central branch. The composition included the sounds of Rucker’s poem and a special choral arrangement of Louis Gesensway’s “Logan Square at Dusk” from Four Squares of Philadelphia. Visitors were also able to hear the sound monument at solar-powered listening stations around the square, where they could plug in their headphones.


Artist Statement

I have explored the historic and aural infrastructures of various cities—Lagos, Nigeria in particular—through my sound recordings and installations. These works try to understand cities, mostly through sounds they generate in the form of soundscapes, but also through audio materials found in the city’s archives, and in some cases, through entirely new compositions inspired by the cities.

My proposed work for Monument Lab intends to explore the city of Philadelphia through the concept of collective memory. Herein, I am interested in how Philadelphia remembers (or forgets) its past, and how over time these collective memories have been passed from one generation to the next.

The point of departure for this work begins with what the city of Philadelphia remembers and what it choses not to remember in terms of its history. The question is put across its citizenry in the form of research feedback, either online or offline (website feedback or real-time data collection), and then the resultant feedback is processed.

The idea is to create a musical composition for an orchestral/choir performance from the research feedback. This feedback will either inspire a composer to work with me in creating a new musical composition, or provide us with data that is converted into a musical score. This can be achieved by running the resultant data through an analytical software.

The final composition would be performed by a choir ensemble. I am interested in working with a choir ensemble. The musical piece will be performed by the orchestra/choir and recorded on separate channels for the individual voices and instruments. These recordings will be re-installed as a multi-channel sound installation in a public space.


Logan Squared: Ode to Philly © 2017 Emeka Ogboh. All rights reserved.

All poetry © 2017 Ursula Rucker. All rights reserved.

Logan Square at Dusk from Four Squares of Philadelphia by Louis Gesensway © 1972 by Theodore Presser Company. All rights administered by Carl Fischer, LLC. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Choral arrangement of Four Squares of Philadelphia: “Logan Square at Dusk” prepared with original score of Four Squares of Philadelphia provided courtesy of the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Project Managers: Judy Hellman, Kristen Goldschmidt

Collaborators: Justin Geller (Music Director & Producer), Nathan Lofton (Choral Arranger & Conductor), Drew Schlegel (Recording Engineer), Dave Schonauer (Assistant Recording Engineer), Morningstar Studios (Recording Venue), John Greig (Speaker Stand Design & Fabrication), Ric Allison and Anders Uhl (Listening Station Designers & Fabrication), Sharon Curley (Project Technician)

Speakers Provided by Eminence

Chorus: Kendra Balmer, Sonja Bontrager, Cory Davis, Michael Hogue, Michael Johnson, Elissa Kranzler, Hank Miller, Victoria Nance, Jordan Rock, Daniel Schwartz, Caroline Winschel, and Michele Zuckman

Special Thanks: Joe Benford, Gary Galván, Corinne Militello, and Janine Pollock

Partners: Mural Arts Philadelphia, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, The City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Friends of Aviator Park. Logan Squared: Ode to Philly was presented as a part of Monument Lab: Philadelphia (Citywide Exhibition, 2017).

Major support for Monument Lab 2017 projects staged in Philadelphia’s five squares provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. An expanded artist roster and projects at additional neighborhood sites made possible by the William Penn Foundation. Generous additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Full list of exhibition sponsors.