What I love the most about Ballet Dancing is that when I walk into the studio, I become disconnected from my ‘real life’. The conversations about the social and political implications of technology feel very far away and I really relish the time I have away from them. In a world and career that is so governed by technology, I love that dance disconnects me from it and affords me the opportunity to be creative with nothing else but my body. I feel hugely grateful for this as I know that not everyone is so blessed.
My name is Lisa Talia Moretti and I’m a Digital Sociologist who lives in London. I currently hold the position of Head of User Research at Methods – a consultancy in the UK that works with the government on the digital transformation of public services. I am also an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London and Cardiff University, and a Visiting Lecturer at Plymouth University and Sup de Pub in Paris.
I always loved to write and was always fascinated by human behaviour and decision making. I started out in digital publishing after graduating with a BA Honours in Journalism and Psychology. Three years later, fascinated at how Facebook was reshaping social relations, I went back to university to complete an MSc Digital Sociology. As a result, I didn’t quite choose my job – it’s been an evolution and convolution of curiosity, luck, coincidence, and damn hard work.
Outside of work, I love ballet dancing and have a sound blog called Sound Taxi. My mom danced in a ballet company and then opened up her own dancing studio. She danced pretty much all through her pregnancy with me and the soon after I was born, I was often in the dance studio with her. My childhood has dance and music all over it.
As cliché as it perhaps sounds, my mother and aunt, Avy, were the two women who inspired me at first and contributed to me falling in love with dance. I loved it all – modern, tap, jazz, hip-hop. I never wanted to be out of the studio. My current ballet teacher David Paul Kierce is a fantastic teacher and wonderful person. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have continued dance classes as an adult.
I have been very lucky to perform in concerts, competitions and a few dance shows. To try and find a favourite personal experience would be difficult. I did perform with a Japanese dance group once for the UK Japanese ambassador and it landed in the news – that was pretty great actually!
The most important thing I’ve learned is that dance is more than just about the steps. It’s the confidence to stand tall and with pride. It’s about learning to work within the confines of your body while extending and reaching to be that little bit better. Dance also teaches you to listen, to focus, to quiet the negative voices in your head, and to be mindful of the people who are dancing around you. In many ways, dance is a metaphor for life.
Looking at my other passion, Sound Taxi was originally born in a course I was taking while reading for my MSc Digital Sociology. The course was The Sociological Imagination and we were given the assignment of exploring an assigned topic through a new digital means. My topic was intimacy and I decided to explore this topic through sound. I had the idea to explore the spaces I occupied – the city of London – through sound. This Is What London Sounds Like was born. Then in 2016, I travelled with my husband from London to Japan using only trains and ferries (yes, absolutely no planes). It was just before this trip that I decided to blow the dust off this idea and take it to the next level. I wanted to record my memories in a new way and re-design the relationship I had with my phone while travelling. I didn’t want to stare through the camera lens on my phone but rather record memories in a way that felt less intrusive. On another level, I was also just really curious about making my original research question public to others and seeing how others would respond. I thought this was interesting given that we usually record travel experiences using visual means and media.
I’ve recorded nearly 300 sounds now from 18 countries around the world, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that while each country has its own visual beauty, every place has its own unique soundtrack too. My other not-so-subtle message with this project is to get your head out of a screen. Take out your earphones. Listen to the world around you. Tune in and listen. We live in a culture that promotes talking, but not enough listening. Listening is the cornerstone to empathy, and my God, do we need more of that in the world.
I’ve travelled to Japan four times now and it never fails to amaze me. The diversity of the landscape and the wonderful blend of the appreciation of the old and embracing of the new – the creation of the manufactured and praise of the natural world is captured beautifully through sound. Saying all that, Mongolia with its vast landscapes and far-flung Buddhist temples was pretty amazing to record too.
I’ve been desperate to record New York City and I got to do that this year, which was fantastic. I would just love to travel through South America and record life on that side of the world … but that is for another year in the future.
I think another reason I’m drawn to dance and collecting my sounds is because it is in such stark contrast to my daily life, which is so heavily entrenched in ‘digital’ work. Not just in the sense that it is connected to the Internet and the use of tools, but also the deep level of analytical and critical thinking time that is spent in the tech space. Dancing and Sound Taxi provide me with some wonderful moments to appreciate life from a different perspective.
My advice to anyone interested in Ballet Dancing is to find a teacher you love – they are key to enjoying the class and building your confidence if you’re trying something new. For blogging, find your unique take on a topic that interests you. That’s the best way to carve out an interesting space for yourself in the very cluttered world of digital information.
There is always more to life and work than tech. We are first and foremost human beings with biological, emotional and spiritual needs that must be fulfilled if we are to be at our best. The creative act of making or doing something with our physical form is innate. Instead of ignoring that part of ourselves, we should be doing all we can to embrace it.
To hear some of Lisa’s records on Sound Taxi, be sure to check the following link: