Babypod intravaginal speaker, mp3 player, headphones

Music for Eggs is a string quartet for human egg cells, to be played to them on the Babypod, an intravaginal speaker designed for gestating fetuses. Babypod was developed based on the long-standing assumption that music, particularly Western classical music, stimulates children’s intellectual and cultural development. This belief has led to products such as albums for babies (e.g. Baby Beethoven), and more recently has been leveraged as the rationale for commercial technologies that play music to children before they are even born.

Pregnancy speaker devices such as Babypod have reinforced societal pressures on women to be “good” mothers at continuously earlier stages of childhood development, and have privileged particular conceptions of “culture.” As a response, Music for Eggs pushes these technologies and their associated expectations to their logical extreme, by using them to play music to eggs that have not yet been fertilized. Commissioning a string quartet, an iconic medium for Western classical music, Livio closely collaborated with the composer to ensure that the piece is what she would want her eggs to hear. Through this gesture, she is also considering women’s broader relationship to motherhood, as most or perhaps all of her eggs will die, and pays reverence to those eggs which will never become fertilized. 

Leslee Smucker (violin),
Magee Capsouto (violin),
Allyson Stibbards (viola),
Cecilia Swanson (cello),
JP Merz (composition)

  • The first instantiation of this work was exhibited in the Embryonic exhibition at NEST, Colorado, September 21–December 21, 2018.
  • Cited in: Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen and Aisling Kelliher. [Under review]. “Beyond Repair: Sidelining Optimization to Honor Endurance, Struggle, and Uncertainty.”
  • Music for Eggs is the first piece developed out of the Tech in Women project collection.