Tomie Hahn

Director, Center for Deep Listening and Professor, Arts

Tomie Hahn is a performer and ethnologist whose activities span a wide range of topics including: Japanese traditional performing arts, Monster Truck rallies, issues of identity and creative expression of multiracial individuals, and relationships of technology and culture; interactive dance/movement performance; and gestural control and extended human/computer interface in the performing arts. She is a teacher/performer of shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), and of nihon buyo (Japanese traditional dance) holding the professional stage name, Samie Tachibana. Hahn is also Director of the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer, which preserves and promotes the philosophy and work of the late American experimental composer Pauline Oliveros, who was a member of the Arts faculty. 

“I am a performer and ethnographer,” Hahn said. “My work centers on the theme of embodiment, specifically embodied cultural knowledge. Comprehending the active involvement of the body in both performance and fieldwork has informed my ethnographic research, which in turn has influenced my artistic practice. The question of how individuals learn through the body—specifically, how we embody cultural knowledge—is a returning theme in much of my artistic and scholarly work.”

She has collaborated with Curtis Bahn, for several decades in the development of new experimental intermedia works and new performance technologies. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Art Byte, and the Rensselaer magazine.

Hahn has performed and lectured at venues including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, Japan Society, Asia Society, The Freer-Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, MIT Media Lab, Franklin Furnace, ABC No Rio, Mobius, and Galapagos Art Space.

Hahn is the author of Sensational Knowledge-Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance (Wesleyan University Press), which won the 2008 Alan P. Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology's, recognizing the most distinguished, published an English-language monograph in the field of ethnomusicology. Other recent publications include "Recipe for Mixing" essay in Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, and "enso-maesthetics—emerging shapes," a graphic text response to Richard Shusterman's Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics. 


Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, Wesleyan University

M.A., Urban Ethnomusicology, New York University

B.S., Performance and Art History, Indiana University (Bloomington campus)