MUSIC FOR EGGS

(2018–ongoing)

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 child 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 technologies that play music to children before they are even born. 

Pregnancy devices like Babypod facilitate particular kinds of reproductive control. They reinforce dominant narratives of “culture” and of who counts as a “good” mother, shifting mothering pressures to earlier stages of childhood development. Music for Eggs, then, pushes the technology to its logical extreme, using it to play music to eggs which have not yet been fertilized. Livio commissioned and closely collaborated on the composition of a string quartet, an iconic classical medium, to produce a piece she would want her eggs to hear. In doing so, she also considered her broader relationship to narratives of bodily autonomy—as most or perhaps all of her eggs will die—and developed the piece in reverence for those eggs which will never become fertilized.

Music for Eggs is the first work developed for the research project Tech in Women,

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

Notes:
  • Recipient of Eloise Timmons Memorial Award
  • Recipient of Beverly Sears Graduate Student Grant
  • Cited in: Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher. 2020. “The Fundamental Uncertainties of Mothering: Finding Ways to Honor Endurance, Struggle, and Contradiction.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 27, No. 4, Article 26.
  • A preliminary instantiation of this work was exhibited in the Embryonic exhibition at NEST, Colorado, September 21–December 21, 2018.