Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores old and new, lesser known and well known sounds that loosely fit under the banner of experimental music.
Jen Callaway is a Melbourne musician, sound and performance artist, photographer, and community services worker raised in various parts of Tasmania. Current projects include bands Is There a Hotline?, Propolis, Snacks and Hi God People; and upcoming film Here at the End, by Campbell Walker, as actor/co-writer.
Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. He was the 2019 recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition, and has scored feature-length films and nationally-touring theatre installations. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane.
Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, artist, scholar and curator, He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.
Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.
Australian musician Sean Baxter died on 15 March 2020. Part of Melbourne's improv scene, he is described by musician Anthony Pateras as possessing “a unique aesthetic vision and intellectual depth, mixing highbrow philosophical concepts with punk sensibilities in how he lived, spoke and played. He was pure energy.”
Drumkit and percussionist, Sean was an Australian improviser who forged an international reputation as a bold explorer of percussive possibilities both as a soloist and through his work with the acclaimed avant-garde trio, Pateras/Baxter/Brown. Focusing on the use of extended techniques applied to the conventional drum kit, he utilised an arsenal of metallic junk and other percussive detritus to expand the sonic palette of the percussion tradition. In addition to Pateras/Baxter/Brown, he was involved in many collaborations and was drummer for groups The Throwaways, Bucketrider, Lazy, SxSxSx and Terminal Hz.
Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.
Alessandro Bosetti is an Italian composer, performer and sound artist, currently based in Marseille. His work delves into the musicality of spoken language, utilising misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. His works for voice and electronics blur the line between electro-acoustic composition, aural writing and performance.
Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.
Mat Dryhurst is an artist who releases music and artworks solo and in conjunction with Holly Herndon and the record label PAN. Dryhurst developed the decentralised publishing framework Saga, which enables creators to claim ownership of each space in which their work appears online, and a number of audio plays that derive their narrative from the personal information of listeners. He lectures on issues of music, technology, and ideology at NYU, and advises the blockchain-based platform co-operative Resonate.is.
Sean Dockray is an artist, writer, and programmer living in Melbourne whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is also the founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and Aaaaarg.
Author of Hearing the Cloud (Zero Books), Emile Frankel is a writer and composer researching the changing conditions of online listening. In his spare time he runs the science fiction and critical fantasy publisher Formling.
Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.
Holly Herndon experiments at the outer reaches of dance music and pop. Born in Tennessee, Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s techno scene and repatriated to San Francisco, where she completed her PhD at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her albums include Platform (2015) and Proto (2019).
Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, and documenta 14.
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist.
Lisa Lerkenfeldt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sound, gesture and performance. Central to her practice is languages of improvisation and intimacy with technology. Traces of a personal discipline and form of graphic notation are introduced in the online exhibition 14 Gestures. The associated recorded work Collagen (Shelter Press, 2020) disrupts the role of the common hair comb through gesture and sound.
Haroon Mirza is an artist who intertwines his practice with the role of composer. Mirza considers electricity his main medium and creates atmospheric environments through the linking together of light, sound, music, videos and elements of architecture. Regularly showing internationally in group and solo exhibitions, Mirza’s work has also been included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion.
Shanghai native 33EMYBW (Wu Shanmin) has been an active member in the Chinese music scene for over a decade. She has also performed at CTM and Sinotronics in Germany, China Drifting Festival in Switzerland, and SXSW. Her 2018 album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was met with critical acclaim and voted one of the best electronic albums of 2018 by Bandcamp. In 2019 she released DONG2 EP under Merrie Records Beijing, and will premiere her sophomore album Arthropods (SVBKVLT) at Unsound 2019.
Alexander Garsden is a Melbourne-based composer, guitarist and electroacoustic musician, working across multiple exploratory musical disciplines. Recent work includes commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey and Eugene Ughetti; alongside performances with artists including Tetuzi Akiyama (Japan), Oren Ambarchi, Radu Malfatti (Austria), Julia Reidy, David Stackenäs (Sweden), and with Erkki Veltheim and Rohan Drape. From 2014 to 2019 Garsden was Co-Director of the INLAND Concert Series. He has taught through RMIT University and the University of Melbourne.
Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
Arben Dzika is an artist whose practice involves working with various media including, but not limited to: sound, image, word, and performance. His work primarily seeks to reflect on, interrogate, and play with technologies, systems, and human senses. Within his practice, he works as a producer and DJ under the moniker, Dilae.
Audrey Schmidt is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a regular contributor to Memo Review, co-editor the third issue of Dissect Journal, and has written for various publications including Art Monthly, Art + Australia and un Magazine. She co-founded Minority Report with Adam Hammad in 2018 and released one online issue that was available until the domain expired in 2019. Audrey sits on the FYTA (GR) Board of Advisors.
Autumn Royal is a poet, researcher, and educator based in Narrm/Melbourne. Autumn’s current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. Autumn is the interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, and author of the poetry collections She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016) and Liquidation (Incendium Radical Library, 2019).
Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator and writer researching contemporary practice in Southeast Asia, and relationships between individuals and collectives in relation to history, globalisation, identity and community building. Currently working at Regional Arts Victoria, Bianca was previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGA. She holds a BA (University of Melbourne), and BA Honours from the ANU where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art. In 2018 Bianca was selected for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Curators’ Intensive.
Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. Hioe is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, as well as an occasional translator.
Chi Tran is a writer, editor, and an artist who makes poems that may be text, video, object, sound, or drawing. Chi is primarily interested in working with language as a means of coming-to-terms. Their work has been published by Incendium Radical Library Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry and Liminal Magazine and exhibited at galleries including Firstdraft, Sydney; Punk Café, Melbourne; and ACCA, Melbourne. In 2019, as a recipient of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Chi spent three months in New York developing their practice with renowned poets including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Fred Moten, and Jackie Wang.
Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a Hong Kong–Australian artist, living in Sydney. Working across music, performance and installation, Rainbow is interested in the copy and how the ways in which it can disrupt Western notions of ownership. Central to Rainbow's work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the counterfeit as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production.
Dale Gorfinkel is a musician-artist whose stylefree improvisational approach informs his performances, instrument-building, and kinetic sound installations. Aiming to reflect an awareness of the dynamic nature of culture and the value of listening as a mode of knowing people and places, Dale is interested in bringing creative communities together and shifting perceived boundaries. Current projects include Prophets, Sounds Like Movement, and Music Yared as well as facilitating Art Day South, an inclusive arts studio with Arts Access Victoria.
Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.
Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. As part of his practice Eric plays the violin, dances and composes music. Working with his family’s custodial songs he seeks to revive and continue on an age old legacy – continuing the tradition of singing in his tribe – utilising his talents to combine and create an experience of his peoples culture.
Fjorn Butler is an artist, researcher, and event organiser. As an artist, she works primarily in sound and performance under the name Papaphilia. As a researcher, she interrogates how biological discourses are used in neoliberal/colonial governance structures to shape the political. Fjorn's research informs her writing on sound-poetics and the challenges this framework poses to anglophone notions of property. She is also co-director of Future Tense and co-curator of Writing and Concepts.
Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist and ensemble performer of classical and contemporary repertoire, curator and improviser within experimental music, electronics, popular and cross-disciplinary art forms. Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia's leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble (as core member) and Ensemble Offspring. Her curatorial roles include co-curator/founder of the regular 'Opus Now' music series and previous curator of the NOW Now festival and Rosenberg Museum.
Gooooose (Han Han) is an electronic music producer, visual artist and software developer based in Shanghai, China. His current releases include They (D Force, 2017), Dong 1 (D Force, 2018), Pro Rata (ANTE-RASA, 2019). Gooooose's 2019 SVBKVLT–released RUSTED SILICON received positive reviews from media including boomkat, Resident Advisor, Dusted Magazine, and The Wire. Gooooose has performed live at CTM (Berlin, 2018), Nyege Nyege (Kampala, 2019), Soft Centre (Sydney, 2019), Unsound (Kraków, 2019) and Recombinant (San Francisco, 2019).
Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer who holds a doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow. James has been commissioned as a composer by ensembles including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs in Australia and internationally.
Jessica Aszodi is an Australian-born, London-based vocalist who has premiered many new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, and sung roles ranging from standard operatic repertoire to artistic collaborations. She has been a soloist with ensembles including ICE; the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; and San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras’ chamber series. Aszodi can be heard on numerous recordings and has sung in festivals around the world. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, an MFA from the University of California, and is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), and artistic associate of BIFEM.
Kt Spit (Katie Collins) is an artist and musician based in Narrm (Melbourne). Lyrically and visually her work explores subcultural narratives and challenges dominant representations of loss, grief, and true love. In 2015 Kt independently released her debut album, Combluotion, and in 2019 will release a visual album entitled Kill the King.
The Convoy conjure illustrious soundscapes from the abyss of chaos, revealing hidden worlds of the imagination as the performance takes form and infuses with subjective experience. Using instruments of sound, light and smell, The Convoy enchant space with themes of tension, evolution, entropy and regeneration. Sensorial immersion transports audiences through highly dynamic environments that shift and blend into one single, breathing moment. As entity, rather than singular, Immy Chuah is a guest within The Convoy on unceded land.
Sam Peterson is interested in what can be done with one’s identity and the space around it.
'Both my body and mind, touching everyday feelings between the rational, the playful and the political. Of course, this is often to do with my disability and my sexuality. My work has been focused on access, and the lack of it — to places, people’s minds and opportunities. I find plasticine is a great subverter of space and potentially of people’s minds. And the continued flexibility of it is something I am really enjoying — covering or filling up gaps and playing with crevices. But I’m finding that my work is drawing more and more to spoken word as a powerful format.'
Sarah McCauley is a Melbourne-based music producer, editor and writer.
Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man. He is well known in Narrm/Birraranga for his musical project DRMNGNOW, a project built on subject matter tackling the colonial nature of the Australian construct and how that affects contemporary society upon this land. The work is unapologetic, clear, and deeply poetic. It hints toward Morris's extensive experience as a spoken word artist in Narrm since 2015. Morris's work is triumphant in the face of severe adversity often imbued in a quite fortified melancholy, a powerful marker of the survival of First Nations peoples in the now.
Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. Through her artistic practice she investigates the idea of how fear, horror, and terror could be manifested in order to control the public and how fictional accounts of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ might operate as a method of speculative fiction that determines expectations for the future.
Mat Spisbah is a New Media curator with a unique portfolio of programming that seeks to integrate non-traditional artistic methods and emerging technologies. Having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years, he is connected to the region’s art and culture, and has created professional networks with artists, curators, galleries, promoters and industry professionals across Australasia. Portfolio highlights include the debut Australian performances of north Asian artists including: Howie Lee, Rui Ho, Meuko Meuko, Pan Daijing, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Tzusing, and Gabber Modus Operandi.
Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.
Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and PhD candidate researcher at Monash University. Her writing and art have been published and exhibited both within Australia and internationally. Quintanilla’s practice is a collaborative one that manifests into outcomes within galleries and also as events and performances outside of that context. She regularly speaks at panels and symposiums on themes within her research, has received grants for her projects and residencies, and has taught at university level.
Amanda Stewart is a poet, author, and vocal artist. She has created a diverse range of publications, performances, film and radio productions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the USA, working in literature, new music, broadcasting, theatre, dance, and new media environments. Amanda collaborated with Chris Mann for many years in the Australian ensemble, Machine For Making Sense (with Jim Denley, Rik Rue, and Stevie Wishart), as well as in other contexts. Her poem ‘ta’ was written in honour of Chris Mann’s extraordinary vision and work.
Holly Childs is an artist and writer. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, earth, memory, poetry, and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram, Melbourne) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa, London), and she collaborates with Gediminas Žygus on ‘Hydrangea’. She is currently writing her third book, What Causes Flowers Not to Bloom?.
Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary, Disturbance, and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press, 2019). A Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK), her work is widely published and anthologised (twice in Best Australian Poems), with poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.
Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.
Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Johnny is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.
Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Megan is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra, and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NYC) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.
Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis. Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.
Shota is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Shota is currently an honours student who is associated with the Plant ecophysiology and Ecosystem processes lab at the University of Sydney.
Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work, and the forms they take, are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.
Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on unceded Wangal land in Sydney, Australia. Through her practice, Alex attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. Her aesthetic favours field recordings, analogue technologies and object interventions. Alex has presented her art/music in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America including Vancouver Art Gallery; BBC Radio 3 & 4; Ausland, Berlin; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Sound Forms Festival, HK; MCA ARTBAR, Firstdraft Gallery, and Liveworks Festival, with Liquid Architecture, Sydney. And she has released her work with labels Room40, Longform Editions, More Mars (with MP Hopkins) and Canti Magnetici.
MP Hopkins is an artist working on Gadigal and Wangal land in Sydney, Australia that makes audio, performance, radiophonic, and textual works. He uses voice, feedback, recording/playback devices, and verbal notation within different acoustic environments, which are deconstructed and presented to the listener in delicate and degraded ways. Hopkins has released recordings with Penultimate Press, Canti Magnetici, Tahalamos, Mappa Editions and Regional Bears. He has presented projects for the NOW now, Liquid Architecture, Avantwhatever, and The Make It Up Club. International appearances include Café Oto, UK; LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore; Les Ateliers Claus, Belgium; TUSK Festival, UK; Colour Out of Space Festival, UK; and he has produced radiophonic works for Radiophrenia, Kunstradio, and the Radia network.
Joel Stern is a researcher, curator, and artist living in Naarm / Melbourne, Australia, and a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in DSC in the School of Media & Communication, RMIT. With a background in experimental music, Stern’s work focuses on practices of sound and listening and how these shape our contemporary worlds.
Between 2013 and 2022, Stern was Artistic Director of Liquid Architecture, leading the organising and developing artistic research projects such as Eavesdropping, Machine Listening, Polyphonic Social, Why Listen?, Instrument Builders Project, and Ritual Community Music. He is an editorial associate of Disclaimer journal.
Georgia Hutchison is a cultural development practitioner and arts executive in Naarm/Melbourne, and Executive Director/CEO of Liquid Architecture. Her practice as an artist, educator, organiser and strategist crosses contemporary art, music, design and social justice.
Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu) is a new and original voice in the evolving journey of Taonga Puoro. His debut album Whāia te Māramatanga (Rattle Records) is a deeply felt and highly concentrated conversation between the past and the present—a musical passage of identity and connection. Using modern loop technology and traditional Māori flutes and horns made from stone, bone, shell and wood, Thorne creates a transcendent aural experience that touches the soul with timeless beauty. Every performance of Whāia te Māramatanga is a stunning and very personal exploration of the spiritual and healing qualities of an ancient practice.
Michiko Ogawa is a performer-composer specialising in the clarinet, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She performs not only classical repertoire but also contemporary and experimental music, including free improvisation and film soundtrack work. In 2019 she was awarded a doctorate (DMA) from the University of California San Diego, with a dissertation focusing on the film music of Teiji Ito. She is in the beginning stages of writing a biography of Ito’s life.
Curious about the tender intersections between art, life and friendships, Emma Nixon is an emerging curator and writer. In 2018 she completed a Bachelor of Art History and Curating at Monash University and co-founded Cathedral Cabinet ARI in the Nicholas Building. In Melbourne she has curated and written about exhibitions that investigate subjects such as abstraction, the domestic, care and collage within contemporary art.
Fayen d’Evie is an artist and writer, based in Muckleford, Australia. Her projects are often conversational and collaborative, and resist spectatorship by inviting audiences into sensorial readings of artworks. Fayen advocates the radical potential for blindness, arguing that blindness offers critical positions and methods attuned to sensory translations, ephemerality, the tangible and the intangible, concealment, uncertainty, the precarious, and the invisible. With artist Katie West, Fayen co-founded the Museum Incognita, which revisits neglected or obscured histories through scores that activate embodied readings. Fayen is also the founder of 3-ply, which investigates artist-led publishing as an experimental site for the creation, dispersal, translation, and archiving of texts.
Debris Facility Pty Ltd is a para-corporate entity who engages im/material contexts with the view to highlight and disrupt administrative forms and their embedded power relations. Deploying print, design, installation, and wearables as the most visible parts of operations, they also work in experimental pedagogy and perforated performance of labour. They are a white-settler parasite with theft and dispossession as the implicated ground from which they work. They currently hold contracts with Liquid Architecture, Victorian College of the Arts, Monash University and Debris Facility Pty Ltd.
Timmah Ball is a writer and urban researcher of Ballardong Noongar descent. She has written for The Griffith Review, Right Now, Meanjin, Overland, Westerly, Art Guide Australia, Assemble Papers, The Big Issue, The Lifted Brow, the Victorian Writer magazine and won the Westerly Patricia Hackett Prize for writing.
Jessie Scott is a practising video artist, writer, programmer and producer who works across the spectrum of screen culture in Melbourne. She is a founding member of audiovisual art collective Tape Projects, and co-directed and founded the inaugural Channels Video Art Festival in 2013.
Christopher L G Hill is an artist, poet, anarchist, collaborator, facilitator, lover, friend, DJ, performer, sound pervader, publisher of Endless Lonely Planet, co-label boss; Bunyip trax, traveller, homebody, dancer, considerate participator, dishwasher, writer, bencher, eater, exhibitor: Sydney, Physics Room, Westspace, TCB, BUS, Punk Cafe,100 Grand street, Lismore Regional Gallery, Good Press, Gambia Castle, Conical, GCAS, NGV, VCA, Mission Comics, Slopes, Art Beat, Papakura Gallery, Neon Parc, UQ Gallery, Tate Modern, Connors Connors, Glasgow International, Sandy Brown, OFLUXO, New Scenarios, Margaret Lawrence, Flake, Utopian Slumps, World Food Books, Sutton, Rearview, Joint Hassles, a basement, a tree, Innen publications, SAM, Chateau 2F, etc, and tweeter, twitcher, sleeper, Biennale director (‘Melbourne Artist initiated’ 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018-20), DJ, retired gallerist Y3K, conversationalist who represents them self and others, born Melbourne/Narrm 1980c.e, lives World.
Iliass Saoud was born in Halba, Lebanon in 1960 as the sixth of eight children of Wakim and Nadima Saoud. Escaping the Lebanese Civil War in 1977, Iliass migrated to Canada pursued a BA in Mathematics from Dalhouse University in 1982. In 1987 he married Janice Joseph (Fakhry) before settling in Australia to raise his family in 1997, owning a variety of small businesses including the Gaffney Street post office across from the Lincoln Mill’s Centre in Coburg from 2005-2011. Currently, Iliass works part time at a local newsagency and is an avid Bridge player and a dedicated grandfather of one.
Dimitri Troaditis works in the Greek-Australian media. As a poet he has been extensively published in Greece and in Australia in numerous literary journals, websites, blogs and anthologies. He has published six poetry collections and two social history books so far. He has organised poetry readings in Melbourne for years and translates others’ poetry. He runs poetry website To Koskino and was a resident of Coburg for 19 years.
Luisa Lana was born in Australia in 1953. Her mother Nannina had arrived in Australia in 1950 with a 3 month old son, and worked for many years on the sewing room floors and her father Angelo worked on the docks where he helped unionise the Italian workforce. Luisa and her brother were latchkey kids, as they looked after themselves in the morning and ran the ‘Continental’ deli in the evenings. Luisa attained a teaching degree, then a postgrad in Social Sciences, and twice studied Italian at The University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. Luisa married Luigino Lana, a Venetian migrant who operated a mechanic business in Brunswick for over 30 years. She devoted her life to being an educator and a mother, teaching Italian to English speakers and English to generations of migrants from around the world. Currently Luisa is translating her father's memoirs from Italian to English, and enjoying being a Nonna.
Anabelle Lacroix is a French-Australian curator, writer and radio contributor. Working independently in Paris, she is based at Fondation Fiminco for a year-long residency focused on the politics of sleeplessness (2020). She has a broad practice, and a current interest in experimental practice, working with performance, sound, discourse and publishing. She is a PhD candidate at UNSW Art & Design.
Geoff Robinson is a Melbourne-based artist working on Wurundjeri country. Robinson creates event-based artworks that utilise the temporal qualities of sound and performance and the spatial conditions of physical sites to unravel the durational layers of place. Robinson has presented projects with Titanik, Turku; Bus Projects, Melbourne; Liquid Architecture, Melbourne; and MoKS, Mooste, Estonia. He was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2014 and completed the PhD project Durational Situation at MADA, Monash University, Melbourne, 2018.
Mattin is a cross disciplinary artist working with noise, improvisation and dissonance. His work Social Dissonance was presented at documenta 14 in 2017 in Kassel and Athens.
Elena Biserna is a scholar and independent curator based in Marseille (France), working at the intersection of social, political and public spheres.
Tobi Maier is the director of Lisbon’s Municipal Galleries, and recently presented Mattin’s Expanding Concert (2019–2023) a four year long concert distributed in time and space through different media: 5 public interventions in 5 different galleries in Lisbon, and 5 texts published within the city.
Clare Milledge is an artist and academic, she lives and works between the lands of the Arakwal people in Bundjalung country (Broken Head, Northern NSW) and the lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal people (Paddington, Sydney). She is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design and is represented by STATION gallery.
Alexander Powers is a choreographer, performer and DJ from Naarm. In 2019 they premiered their first full length choreographic work Time Loop at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, receiving the Temperance Hall Award at the Fringe Awards. Under the moniker Female Wizard, they are known internationally for their forward-thinking DJ sets. They’ve performed at Golden Plains, Dark Mofo, Boiler Room, Hybrid Festival and Soft Centre and held a four year residency at Le Fag.
Zoe Scoglio’s (often collaborative) practice explores the space of art as a site of study and sociality to engage the radical imagination towards alternative ways of being, knowing and relating. Current research takes critical and collective somatic approaches towards response-ability in these times of ecological collapse, within settler colonial conditions. Past projects have taken place within varied contexts, on top of mountains and under full moons, as large collective choreographies and intimate encounters.
Tricky Walsh is a non-binary artist working in New Norfolk, Tasmania, who works both collaboratively and in a solo capacity. Their projects focus on both spatial and communication concerns in an increasingly speculative manner and while they use a diversity of media (architecture, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound, film, comics, radio) it is foremost the concept at hand that determines which form of material experimentation occurs within these broader themes.
Kengné Téguia is a Black Deaf HIV+ cyborg artist, who works from sound deafinitely. #TheBLACKRevolutionwillbeDEAFinitelyLoud
Angela Goh is a dancer and choreographer. Her work poses possibilities for disruption and transformation inside the aesthetics and conditions of technocapitalism, planetarity, and the post-anthropocene. She lives and works in Sydney, and has toured her work across Australia, Europe, the UK, the USA and Asia. She received the 2020 Keir Choreographic Award and the inaugural Sydney Dance Company Beyond the Studio Fellowship 2020-21.
Jannah Quill’s deconstructive exploration of electronic instruments and technologies manifests in electronic music production and experimental audio-visual performance and installation. Jannah modifies existing technologies (such as solar panels) into innovative light-to-audio systems, used with software/hardware experimentation and modular synthesis to carve a distinct voice in electronic music and art.
Tom Smith is an artist, musician, writer and researcher. Narrative 001: The Things We Like was created by Tom Smith, with music by Utility/Austin Benjamin.
His work is concerned with the tyranny and poetics of computational systems, the politics of creative economies, emerging digital subjectivities, planetary futures and music as a mode of critical inquiry. He has worked across speculative fiction, video, curatorial projects, live performance, websites, critical writing and electronic music. Thomas produces music as T.Morimoto, is one half of production duo Utility, and runs independent label Sumactrac with Jarred Beeler (DJ Plead) and Jon Watts.
Thomas’ works have been exhibited and/or performed at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Unsound Festival (Poland), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Fondation Fiminco (Paris), Cashmere Radio (Berlin), Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), Nasjonalmuseet (Oslo), Floating Projects (Hong Kong), Goldsmiths College (London), Firstdraft Gallery (Sydney), Queensland University Art Museum (Brisbane), Alaska Projects (Sydney) and Blindside Gallery (Melbourne). Thomas’ writing has been published in Realtime Magazine, Runway Journal, Un Magazine and Plates Journal.
Pris Roos grew up in Rhenen, the Netherlands. Her family migrated from Bogor, Indonesia, to start their own toko in the Netherlands. Toko is the Indonesian word for shop, and they sell non-Western food (products). Roos grew up in the toko, a space of being together, and full of colours, smells, food, stories and images of immigrants. The toko is a source of inspiration for her artistic practices. Stories that are normally not heard find their way in her works. Roos makes portraits of immigrants that she meets in the toko, on the streets or in her surroundings of the South of Rotterdam. She visits them at home or invites them to her atelier. The stories are translated into painted portraits, videos, installations and spoken word performances.
Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer and arts worker from Mt Druitt. She is the general manager of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Sydney University. Winnie’s work has been published in the HuffPost Australia, The Saturday Paper, Griffith Review, Meanjin Quarterly, SBS Voices and Cordite. She is the editor of several anthologies including Sweatshop Women, The Big Black Thing and Bent Not Broken. Winnie is currently completing her debut novel as the recipient of a 2019 CAL Ignite Grant.
Jon Watts is a Melbourne/Naarm based musician, designer, 3D artist and animator. His music has been released through cult labels SUMAC and Butter Sessions, and he is currently Senior Multimedia Installer at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Pan-Pan Kolektiva was established in March 2020, as a research group on listening. Pan-Pan is a standard emergency call based on the acronym Pan which stands for Pay Attention Now.
Nathan Gray is an artist whose recent works use voice as their medium, taking form as lecture-performances, radio-plays and documentaries, DJ sets, narrative and rumour.
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Leighton Craig is an artist living in Meanjin/Brisbane. He has been in a number of bands (The Lost Domain, G55, The Deadnotes et al) and is currently a member of the duo Primitive Motion with Sandra Selig.
Anne Zeitz is associate professor at University Rennes 2. Her research focuses on aural attention, the inaudible, the unheard, and the polyphony in contemporary art. She directed the research project 'Sound Unheard' and she co-organised the eponymous exhibition at the Goethe-Institut Paris, Paris and exhibition 'Échos magnétiques” at the MBA Rennes, Rennes in 2019.
Melissa Johnson is Associate Professor of Art History & Visual Culture at Illinois State University (Normal, IL). Her scholarly research focuses on the histories of craft and its intersections with modern and contemporary art. She is currently working on a project that explores artists making work in response to the writings of Virginia Woolf. She’s deeply interested in situating her academic writing and her textile-based work as parallel practices, and is working on two writing and textile projects, “Woolf Words” and “Haptic Investigations,” and a project on mending and repair.
Diego Ramirez makes art, writes about culture, and labours in the arts. In 2018, he showed his video work in a solo screening by ACCA x ACMI and he performed in Lifenessless at West Space x Gertrude Contemporary in 2019. His work has been shown locally and internationally at MARS Gallery, ACMI, Westspace, Torrance Art Museum, Hong-Gah Museum, Careof Milan, Buxton Cotntemporary, WRO Media Art Biennale, Human Resources LA, Art Central HK, Sydney Contemporary, and Deslave. His words feature in Art and Australia, NECSUS, un Projects, Runway Journal, Art Collector, and Australian Book Review. He is represented by MARS Gallery, Editor-at-large at Running Dog and Gallery Manager at SEVENTH.
Noemie Cecilia Huttner-Koros is a queer Jewish performance-maker, writer, dramaturg, poet, teaching artist and community organiser living and working on Whadjuk Noongar country in Boorloo (Perth). Her practice is driven by a deep belief in the social, political and communal role of art and performance and in engaging with sites and histories where queer culture, composting and ecological crisis occur.
Josten Myburgh is a musician based on Whadjuk Noongar boodja country who plays with techniques from the worlds of electro-acoustic music, radio art, free improvisation, field recording and experimental composition. He co-directs exploratory music label Tone List and the Audible Edge festival. He has performed in South Africa, the United States, and throughout South East Asia, Europe and Australia. He is a Schenberg Fellow and a student of Antoine Beuger and Michael Pisaro.
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito is an artist and writer living near Derbarl Yerrigan on Whadjuk Noongar Bibbulmun lands. Their work reflects mostly on personal intersections of disability, queerness and diasporic ancestry in so-called 'australia'. They have recently made text-based contributions to Runway Journal and HERE&NOW20: Perfectly Queer, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
Michael Terren is a musician and educator from Boorloo/Perth. Grounded in experimental studio-based practice, his work explores the social construction of the technologies of music’s creation and distribution. He is a sessional academic teaching music at two Boorloo universities, and in 2019 finished a PhD thesis entitled 'The grain of the digital audio workstation'.
Joee Mejias is a musician and video artist from Manila. She is co-producer of WSK, the first and only international festival of digital arts and new media in the Philippines and co-founder of HERESY, a new platform for women in sound and multimedia. She performs as Joee & I: her avant-pop electronica solo project.
Myriad Sun are an experimental audio/visual/rap trio from Walyalup (Fremantle), Australia, composed of electronic producer Ben Aguero, Mc POW! Negro, and Limit Bashr. Additional performers: Mali Jose, Billy Jack Narkle and Polly-Pearl Greenhalgh.
Jasmine Guffond is an artist and composer working at the interface of social, political, and technical infrastructures. Focused on electronic composition across music and art contexts her practice spans live performance, recording, installation and custom made browser add-ons. Through the sonification of data she addresses the potential of sound to engage with contemporary political questions and engages listening as a situated-knowledge practice.
Sounding Together comprise of the following performers: Rhys Butler (alto saxophone); Simon Charles (soprano saxophone, shakuhachi); Eduardo Cossio (electronics, writing); Luke Cuerel (alto saxophone); Jim Denley (flute, writing); Julia Drouhin (voice, electronics, objects, images); Jameson Feakes (mandolin); Be Gosper (voice, objects); Noemie Huttner-Koros (voice, writing); Lenny Jacobs (percussion); Annette Krebs (amplified string instrument); Annika Moses (voice, images); Josten Myburgh (clarinet, alto saxophone, editing); Dan O’Connor (mastering); Stuart Orchard (guitar, objects, editing); Daisy Sanders (voice, movement).
Yan Jun, a musician based in Beijing uses a wide range of materials such as field recording, body, noise and concept. Yan Jun: “I wish I was a piece of field recording.”
Katie West is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives on Noongar Ballardong boodja and belongs to the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara tablelands in Western Australia. The process and notion of naturally dyeing fabric underpin her practice – the rhythm of walking, gathering, bundling, boiling up water and infusing materials with plant matter. The objects, installations and happenings that Katie creates invite attention to the ways we weave our stories, places, histories, and futures.
Simon Charles is a composer and performer based in Noongar Ballardong Country (Western Australia). His practice reflects an interest in the instability of compositional structures; as friction between musical notation and perception and interactions with place. He has performed at Serralvés Festival (Porto), The Wulf (Los Angeles) Studio Rotor (Berlin), Vigeland Mausoleum (Oslo), Avantwhatever Festival (Melbourne), DATA (Marseille), ANAM Quarttethaus and the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Tiarney Miekus is a writer, editor and musician based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow (Online), Overland, Memo Review, un Magazine, Art Guide Australia, Swampland and RealTime. She is currently editor and podcast producer at Art Guide Australia.
Liang Luscombe is a Naarm/Melbourne-based visual artist whose practice encompasses painting, sculpture and moving image that engage in a process of generative questioning of how media and film affect audiences.
Thembi Soddell is a sound artist best known for their powerful acousmatic performances and installations in darkness. In 2019 they were awarded a PhD from RMIT University for their practice-based research titled, A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound. This research developed a novel approach to understanding lived experiences of anxiety, depression and trauma using a medium (abstract sound) with the unique ability to reflect the intangible nature of the inner world.
James Parker is an academic at Melbourne Law School and long-time associate curator with Liquid Architecture. His work explores the many relations between law, sound and listening. He is currently working on machine listening with Joel Stern and Sean Dockray.
Eloise Sweetman loves art, misses her home in Western Australia, all the time loving Rotterdam where she became friends with Pris Roos whose artwork Sweetman speaks of. Sweetman is a curator, artist, writer and teacher working in intimacy, not knowing and material relation. She started Shimmer with Dutch-Australian artist Jason Hendrik Hansma in 2017.
Cecilia Vicuña's work dwells in the not yet, the future potential of the unformed, where sound, weaving, and language interact to create new meanings.
'In January 1966, I began creating precarios (precarious) installations and basuritas, objects composed of debris, structures that disappear, along with quipus and other weaving metaphors. I called these works 'Arte Precario', creating a new independent category, a non-colonized name for them. The precarios soon evolved into collective rituals and oral performances based on dissonant sound and the shamanic voice. The fluid, multi-dimensional quality of these works allowed them to exist in many media and languages at once. Created in and for the moment, they reflect ancient spiritual technologies—a knowledge of the power of individual and communal intention to heal us and the earth.'
Camila Marambio is a private investigator, amateur dancer, permaculture enthusiast, and sporadic writer, but first and foremost, she is a curator and the founder/director of Ensayos, a nomadic interdisciplinary research program in Tierra del Fuego.
Las Chinas is the cosmic coincidences led to the meeting of Chileans Sarita Gálvez and Camila Marambio in Melbourne. Their shared reverence for the ancestral flautón chino from the Andes Mountains lead to playful explorations of its unique dissonant sounds and thereafter to experimenting with atonal signing and other technologies of the spirit.
Influenced by Chilean feminist poet Cecilia Vicuña, the now deceased poet Fidel Sepúlveda, the musical ensemble La Chimuchina and the chino bands from the townships of La Canela and Andacollo, Las Chinas honours the ancestral tradition by enacting the principle of tearing each other apart.
Bryan Phillips A.K.A. Galambo is a Chilean/Australian artist working in community arts, music and performance, using sound as a means to facilitate engagement with others. His practice has mainly been developed in Chile, but after completing his Masters in Community Cultural Development (VCA-2013) he has become involved in projects with artists from Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia.
Douglas Kahn is an historian and theorist of energies in the arts, sound in the arts and sound studies, and media arts, from the late-nineteenth century to the present. He lives on unceded Dharug and Gundungurra land. His books include Energies in the Arts (MIT Press, 2019); Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013); Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999); Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Arts, edited with Hannah Higgins (University of California Press, 2012); and Source: Music of the Avant-garde, edited with Larry Austin (University of California Press, 2011).
André Dao is a writer, editor, researcher, and artist. His debut novel, Anam, won the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. He is also the co-founder of Behind the Wire, an oral history project documenting people’s experience of immigration detention and a producer of the Walkley-award winning podcast, The Messenger. He is a member of the Manus Recording Project Collective.
Poppy de Souza is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based researcher affiliated with Griffith University and UNSW. Her work focuses on the politics of voice and listening—broadly defined—in conditions of inequality and injustice, including the relationship between sound, race, and conditions of (not) being heard. Poppy has previously worked in community arts and cultural development (CACD), and with the national Film and Sound Archive as a curator on australianscreen.
Andrew Brooks is an artist, writer, and teacher who lives on unceded Wangal land. He is a lecturer in media cultures at UNSW, one half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate, and a member of the Rosa Press Collective. Homework, a book of essays co-written with Astrid Lorange, was recently published by Discipline.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. He was writer for the Kurdish language magazine Werya. He writes regularly for The Guardian and several other publications. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, and author of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. He was held on Manus Island from 2013 until 2019.
Emma Russell is a critical carceral studies scholar and senior lecturer in crime, justice and legal studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She researches and writes on policing and criminalisation, prisons, detention, and activism. Emma is the author of Queer Histories and the Politics of Policing (2020) and co-author of Resisting Carceral Violence: Women’s Imprisonment and the Politics of Abolition (2018).
Dylan Martorell is an artist and musician based in Narrm/Melbourne Victoria. He is a founding member of Slow Art Collective, Snawklor, Hi God People, and Forum of Sensory Motion. He has performed and exhibited internationally, including projects with; Art Dubai, Asian Art Biennale, Tarrawarra Biennale, Jakarta Biennale and Kochi Muzirus Biennale. His work often combines site-specific materiality and music to create temporary sites for improvised community engagement.
Jim Denley is one of Australia's foremost improvisers. Over a career spanning four decades his work has emphasised the use of recording technologies, collaboration, and a concern with site-specificity.
Noah Simblist works as a curator, writer, and artist with a focus on art and politics, specifically the ways in which contemporary artists address history. He has contributed to Art in America, Terremoto, Art Journal and other publications.
He is also an Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jacqui Shelton is an artist and writer born on Barada Barna land, central QLD, and based in Narrm, Melbourne. Her work uses text, performance, film-making and photography to explore the complications of performance and presence, and how voice, language, and image can collaborate or undermine one another. She is especially interested in how emotion and embodied experience can be made public and activated to reveal a complex politics of living-together, and the tensions this makes visible. She has produced exhibitions and performance works in association with institutions including Gertrude Contemporary, the Institute of Modern Art, West Space, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Tarrawarra Museum, and with Channels Festival and Liquid Architecture. Shelton has shown work internationally in Milan at Care-Of, and at NARS Inc in New York City. She teaches photography at Monash University and in the Masters of Media program at RMIT, and holds a PhD from Monash University.
A Hanley is an artist currently living on Wurundjeri Country in Melbourne, Australia. Their practice uses sound and media to explore relations among queer ecologies, attunement, situatedness, and speculative practices. Engaging forms of performance, installation, and collaboration, Hanley's work is interested in audition as an affective practice and the possibilities of sound and technology to support and alter the sonic expressions of humans and non-humans.
Patrick Hase is a digital media artist and researcher, focusing on work that often involves digital interfaces, experimental web design, and collaborative a/v. The entwined practical and theoretical aspects of his work are interested in exploring the embedded cultural and emotional impacts of how people are extended into the virtual via digital processes and designs.
Xen Nhà is a documentary maker and artist with a background in creating intimate dialogues and storytelling across sound, film, and texts. Their work explores the confluence between personal and collective narratives and the cultural politics and responsibility of listening. They are currently living in Melbourne on unceded Wurundjeri Country.
Philip Brophy writes on music, among other things.
Coco Klockner is an artist and writer living in New York City. Recent exhibitions include venues such as The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Alfred, NY; Interstate Projects, Brooklyn; Guadalajara90210, CDMX; The Luminary, St. Louis; Bass & Reiner, San Francisco; Lubov, New York; ONE Archives, Los Angeles; and Egret Egress, Toronto. They are the author of the book K-Y (Genderfail, 2019) and have published writing with Montez Press, Real Life Magazine, Spike Art Magazine, and Burnaway.
Lu Yang (b. Shanghai, China) is a multimedia artist based in Shanghai. Mortality, androgyny, hysteria, existentialism and spiritual neurology feed Lu’s jarring and at times morbid fantasies. Also taking inspiration and resources from Anime, gaming and Sci-fi subcultures, Lu explores his fantasies through mediums including 3D animation, immersive video game installation, holographic, live performances, virtual reality, and computer programming. Lu has collaborated with scientists, psychologists, performers, designers, experimental composers, Pop Music producers, robotics labs, and celebrities throughout his practice.
Lu Yang has held exhibitions at UCCA (Beijing), MWoods (Beijing), Cc Foundation (Shanghai), Spiral (Tokyo), Fukuoka Museum of Asian Art (Fukuoka, Japan), Société (Berlin), MOCA Cleveland (Cleveland, Ohio). He has participated in several international biennials and triennials such as 2021 Asia Society Triennial (New York), 2012 & 2018 Shanghai Biennial, 2018 Athens Biennale, 2016 Liverpool Biennial, 2016 International Digital Art Biennale (Montreal), Chinese Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale, and 2014 Fukuoka Triennial. In 2020, Lu Yang was included in Centre Pompidou’s exhibition Neurons, simulated intelligence in Paris. In 2019, Lu was the winner of the 8th BMW Art Journey and started the Yang Digital Incarnation project.
Dr. Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Internationally Known Private Ear
Serving Industries of Culture Since 2007
Licensed & Bonded: Goldsmiths College, University of London
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Bureaus: Beirut, Berlin, Dubai, London
Nico Niquo, a.k.a Nico Callaghan, works and lives in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. Since 2015, he has produced and released music under a variety of monikers with the North American label Orange Milk Records and Australian label Daisart. He has performed across Australia, East Asia, and Europe.
Emma Ramsay is active across experimental dance and DIY music; sound performance; and other text collaborations. She works in community media and archives.
Jared Davis is a writer and curator based in London with an interest in independent music, sound culture, and its politics. He is Associate Editor of AQNB and co-host of the editorial platform’s Artist Statement podcast.
James Hazel is a composer/artist/researcher based on the unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. As someone who lived in an underclass (social-housing) community for fourteen years, James employs extended score practices across sound, music, utterance, and (re)performance to interrogate what it means to live, love, and listen under precarity – stemming from both lived/researched experiences of poverty. As an advocate in this area, James has commissioned several artists from low-SES backgrounds through ADSR Zine.
In recent years, James has 'worked' for the dole; various call centres; and, more recently, as a casual academic in musicology at USYD. In 2021, James was selected as one of the ABC Top 5 Researchers (Arts).
Frances Barrett is an artist who lives and works on Kaurna land in Tarntanya/Adelaide. Frances is currently Lecturer in Contemporary Art at University of South Australia.
Allison Gibbs is an artist living and working on Djaara Country/Maldon, Victoria. She is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University Art, Design and Architecture (MADA).
Mouth Making an Orifice has been adapted for OOO/LA from a part of Allison’s doctoral research (Orificing as Method).
Sound Mastering: Casey Rice is an audio doula living and practicing on Djaara Country/Castlemaine, Victoria.
Ander Rennick is a graphic artist based in Melbourne interested in the fetishisation of editorial, pedagogical, pornographic and mimetic commodities.
V Barratt is a trans-media artist, researcher, writer, and performer living on Kaurna Yarta, Adelaide.
Ivan Cheng's recent works are context specific situations, dealing with language and driven by relations with collaborators and hosts. His background as a performer and musician form the basis for using performance as a critical medium. Invested in questions around publics and accessibility, he produces videos, objects, paintings and publications as anchors for the staging of complex and precarious spectacles. His work is presented internationally, and he has initiated project space bologna.cc in Amsterdam since 2017.
Sage J Harlow received a PhD from WAAPA exploring improvised ritual magick using extra-normal vocal technique. She performs under the moniker Sage Pbbbt. Her work is inspired by Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing, Inuit throat singing, extreme metal, sound poetry and an ongoing exploration of extra-normal vocal technique. As well as industrial musick, trance, and drone; insight meditation practice, shamanism and chaos magick; feminist, queer and trans praxis; and Discordianism. As well as a vocalist, Sage plays percussion, bass and theremin. She creates sample-based electronic music and writes text scores that explore the ethics and politics between the players and composer.
Archie Barry is an interdisciplinary visual artist working with a trans politics of quietude. Their practice is autobiographical, somatic, and process-led, and spans performance, video, music production, and writing. Cultivating a genealogy of personas, they produce self-portraiture that brings to question dominant notions of personhood and representation.
Mara Schwerdtfeger is a composer / curator / audio producer based in Eora / Sydney. She plays the viola and collaborates with her laptop to create live performances and recorded pieces for film, dance, and gallery spaces.
Suvani Suri is an artist and researcher based in New Delhi, India. She works with sound, text and intermedia assemblages and has been exploring various modes of transmission such as podcasts, auditory texts, sonic environments, maps, objects, installations, workshops and live interventions. In recent years, her work has been exhibited at Khoj Studios (2014), 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Mumbai Art Room (2018), Sound Reasons Festival VI (2018), Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia (2019), Five Million Incidents (2020). Alongside this, she has been teaching at several universities and educational spaces where her pedagogical interests conflate with a critical inquiry into the digital and sonic sensorium.
Aasma Tulika is an artist based in Delhi. Her practice locates technological infrastructures as sites to unpack how power embeds, affects, and moves narrative making processes. Her work engages with moments that disturb belief systems through assemblages of video, zines, interactive text, writings and sound. Aasma was a fellow at the Home Workspace Program 2019-20, Ashkal Alwan, her work has appeared in Restricted Fixations, Abr_circle, Khoj Art+Science program, HH Art Space. She is a member of the collective -out-of-line-, and collaboratively maintains a home server hosting an internet radio station. She is currently teaching at Ambedkar University Delhi.
Luke Conroy is a Tasmanian multidisciplinary artist currently based in The Netherlands. With a background in sociology and arts education, Luke’s artistic practice engages with socio-cultural topics in meaningful yet playful ways, utilising humour and irony as essential tools for critical reflection and expression. The outcome of his work utilises an ever-evolving multimedia and audio-visual practice which includes photography, digital-art, video, sound, VR, textile, text, and installation.
Julius Killerby is an artist living and working in London. His work focuses on the psychological ripple effects of certain cultural and societal transformations. Part of Julius’ practice also includes portraiture, and in 2017 he was nominated as a finalist in the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Paul Little. His work has been exhibited at VCA Art Space, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and Geelong Gallery.
Daniel Jenatsch makes interdisciplinary works that explore the interstices between affect and information. His work combines hyper-detailed soundscapes, music and video to create multimedia documentaries, installations, radio pieces, and performances. He is the winner of the 2020 John Fries award. His works have been presented in exhibitions and programs at ACCA, UNSW, Arts House, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, the Athens Biennale, NextWave Festival, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Liquid Architecture Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the MousonTurm, Frankfurt.
Shareeka Helaluddin is a sound artist, DJ, producer at FBi Radio and community facilitator working in queer mental health. Creating under the pseudonym akka, her practice is concerned with drone, dissonance, memory, ritual, generative somatics and a pursuit of deeper listening. She is currently creating on unceded Gadigal and Wangal lands.
Austin Benjamin, known for his stage name Utility, is a Sydney-based music producer, artist & founder of the label Trackwork. He’s released projects through Room 40, Sumac, HellosQuare, and produced music for releases on labels including Universal NZ, AVTV, Warner & 66 Records. In 2019 Utility & close collaborator T. Morimoto released Nexus Destiny featuring a collection of 60 arpeggios made entirely with software synthesisers, released on Melbourne-based label Sumac.
Earlier this year Utility performed alongside T Breezy, Walkerboy, Sevy & Bayang at Sydney Opera House’s Barrbuwari event. Austin has previously composed and performed new works for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and University of Queensland Art Museum with T. Morimoto, and MONA FOMA Tasmania with turntablist Martin Ng and has exhibited audio-visual gallery works including ‘Strategic Innovation’ with Coen Young at Kronenberg Wright, Sydney.
Uzma Falak is a DAAD doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Heidelberg where her work focuses on the intersection of sound, time and violence. Her poetry, essays, and reportage have appeared in publications like Guernica, The Baffler, Adi Magazine, Al Jazeera English, Warscapes, The Caravan and several edited volumes and anthologies. She won an honourable mention in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology’s Ethnographic Poetry Award (2017). Her film, Till Then The Roads Carry Her, exploring Kashmir women’s repertories of resistance, has been screened at the Art Gallery of Guelph (Guelph), University of Copenhagen, University of Warsaw, Karlstorkino (Heidelberg), Tate Modern, and others.
Laura McLean is a curator, writer, and researcher based in Naarm Melbourne. She is an Associate Curator at Liquid Architecture, member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), and is currently undertaking a PhD in Curatorial Practice at MADA, Monash University. Past curatorial projects include CIVICS, Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery, Melbourne (2020); Startup States, Sarai-CSDS, Delhi (2019); and Contingent Movements Archive, Maldives Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (2013). Her writing is included in edited books published by Arena, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and the MIT Press, among others, and has been published by journals including Eyeline, Realtime, HKW Technosphere Magazine, and ArtAsiaPacific.
Mehak Sawhney is a scholar, curator, and activist with research interests in sound and media cultures of South Asia. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication Studies at McGill University. Funded by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, her doctoral project explores audio and targeted state surveillance in postcolonial India. She has also been associated with Sarai-CSDS in Delhi since 2017. Previously, her ethnographic work has studied urban sound and listening cultures as well as the politics of machine listening and voice interfaces in contemporary India. Her academic and public writing has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Amodern, and The Wire, among others.
Joy Zhou is a China born emerging artist and design practitioner based in Naarm/Melbourne. Informed by their background in Interior Design, Joy’s practice entails gestures of queering which unfold encounters and events that draw relationships between people, places, and spaces.
Claire G Coleman is a Noongar writer, born in Western Australia, and now based in Naarm. Her family have been from the area around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun on the south coast of WA since before time started being recorded. Claire wrote her black&write! Fellowship-winning book Terra Nullius while travelling around Australia in a caravan. The Old Lie (2019) was her second novel and in 2021 her acclaimed non-fiction book, Lies, Damned Lies was published by Ultimo Press. Enclave is her third novel. Since mid 2020 Claire has also been a member of the cultural advisory committee for Agency, a Not-for-profit Indigenous arts Consultancy.
Jolyon Jones is a Berlin-based student of fine arts at the University of Arts Berlin. He works primarily between sculpture, drawing, print media and sound. With an interest in practices of labour, Jolyon draws upon his background in anthropology exploring embedded concepts through research and architecture and the latent possibilities of everyday materials such as concrete, graphite, and silicone to access speculative narratives and the construction of mementos.
Martina Becherucci graduated in Cultural Heritage at the University of Milan and is currently completing her studies with a Master degree in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Martina loves being in contact with visitors in museums and galleries, during temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
Damiano Bertoli was an artist and writer who worked across drawing, theatre, video, prints, installation and sculpture.
With works of great humour and intelligence, Bertoli was best known for his ongoing series Continuous Moment, which sprawled a range of mediums across multiple works, ultimately circulating on time itself. His practice gravitated toward aesthetic and cultural moments, particularly related to his birth year of 1969.
Penelope Cain is interested in landscape in its widest definition, from the extracted, transformed and occupied landscapes of the Anthropocene, to the emergent Post-Carbon.
Her art practice is located interstitially between scientific knowledge and unearthing connected and untold narratives in the world. She works across media and knowledge streams, with scientists, datasets, people, stories, and land, to connect yet to be heard storytellings from the present and near future. She was awarded the Fauvette Loureiro Travelling Scholarship, Glenfiddich Contemporary Art Residency and is currently undertaking a one year S+T+ARTS residency in the Hague, for Rewild, Maxxi, Rome.
Jason De Santolo (Garrwa and Barunggam) is a researcher & creative producer based in the School of Design, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. He has worked with his own communities as an activist and advocate using film and performance, protest and education to bring attention to injustices and design solutions using Indigenous knowledge.
Kynan Tan is an artist interested in the relations and conditions of computational systems, with a focus on data, algorithm, networks, materiality, control, and affect. These areas are explored using computer-generated artworks that take the form of simulations, video, sound, 3d prints, text, code, and generative algorithms.
Snack Syndicate, two rats (Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange) living on unceded Wangal land; texts, objects, events, meals, and publics.
Spence Messih is an artist living and working on Gadigal land. Their practice speaks broadly to sites of pressure, power structures, materiality, and language, and more specifically about these things in relation to their own trans experience.
Tina Stefanou born of Sophia and Yorgios Stefanou is a first/second generation Greek-Australian. Emerging from an East Melbourne hospital on 21 November 1986. She is thirty-four years old. Now based on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people in Wattle Glen, Victoria. With a background as a vocalist, she works undisciplined, with and across a diverse range of mediums, practices, approaches, and labours: an embodied practice that she calls, 'voice in the expanded field'.
Tom Melick is the co-editor of Slug and part of the Rosa Press Collective and Stolon Press.
Trisha Low is a writer living in the East Bay. She is the author of The Compleat Purge (Kenning Editions, 2013) and Socialist Realism (Emily Books/Coffee House Press, 2019).
I first learnt of the Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) audio archives through an online news report — a piece I stumbled upon nearly a decade after it was published. ‘Rare audio of Raj-era linguistic survey now just a click away’,1 the story announced. Tucked away in a server of the Digital South Asia Library at the University of Chicago, the audio recordings had been digitised from a heap of gramophone discs found in a long-lost and forgotten trunk in the British Library in London. The discovery of the dusty records was purely accidental during the process of shifting the library’s collections to their new premises.
It struck me that alongside the records, there were countless other ‘firsts’ stacked in there. The publication divulged that ‘it was the first to report in 2006 about the efforts to digitise the archives, which has been put online by the Digital South Asia Library recently’. Rewinding further back in time, I landed at this first news report on the LSI by The Times of India — ‘Century-old sounds just a click away’2 it echoed, in anticipation of the headline that was to be, only a few years later. A compressed history of firsts, and a series of chance encounters in speech, reproduced and looped all over again.
The LSI, the inaugural survey of its kind, was an ambitious colonial project spearheaded by George A Grierson, an Irish linguist and administrator in British India. While it was conceptualised as early as 1894, with an intent to capture the diversity of languages and dialects in the subcontinent, the actual process of collection only took off only around 1914. An assortment of voices, sounds, and utterances from all across the subcontinent were captured as a part of the venture. Spanning more than a decade with intermittent halts, pauses, and disruptions, the challenging process of recording, transcription, and cataloguing voices across the territory finally came to a close in 1928. The mammoth project generated a rich collection of language samples in the form of songs, poems, music, tales, folklore, and above all, a multitude of voices.
Akshaya Mukul, ‘Rare audio of Raj-era linguistic survey now just a click away,’ The Times of India, October 15, 2010, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rare-audio-of-raj-era-linguistic-survey-now-just-a-click-away/articleshow/6749301.cms ↩
Akshaya Mukul, ‘Century old sounds just a click away,’ The Times of India, July 19, 2006,
A sense of wonder and curiosity got the better of me, initiating a preoccupation with the archives — to track their journey across the region, and trace their trails in a bid to hear the voices and stories embedded within them. Browsing the web archive, I tried to make sense of the list of linguistic classifications, descriptions, sets, and subsets, based on region, year, narrator’s province, and duration.
97 recorded languages and dialects.
242 gramophone discs.
As I scanned through the list of digitised records from the survey, I wondered — what is an archive of languages? When does it become one? What can it preserve and subsequently unearth? How does it feel, breathe, and sense? From the moment of utterance to being seized as material, what does it register and endure? In the process, how does it hold and keep an account of stockpiled, segregated, meta-tagged, and organised languages of labour and bodies, claim and extraction, capture and retrieval?
The very first time I entered the archive and played a slice of a sound from it, it swallowed me whole. As I swirled and pirouetted around in it, I could hear the room that the recording took place in. I could smell the shellac in the air, and taste the unease and hesitation of the speaker facing the recording apparatus, perhaps for the very first time. Clenched fists, sweaty palms, gentle tremors in the voice, a fleeting stutter, a light wobble.
The record was titled, Beauty of the beloved and the longing of the lover from the Hyderabad district, recorded in 1919.
Recording Number: 5702AK
Play excerpt here.
In the Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, published in 1837, Charles Babbage speculated that spoken words leave permanent impressions in the air, even though they become inaudible after time, possibly due to the transfer of motion between particles.1
The air itself is one vast library, on whose pages are forever written all that man has ever said, or woman whispered. There, in their mutable but unerring characters, mixed with the earliest as well as with the latest sighs of mortality, stand forever recorded, vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled, perpetuating in the united movements of each particle the testimony of man’s changeful will. But if the air we breathe is the never-failing historian of the sentiments we have uttered, earth, air, and ocean are the eternal witnesses of the acts we have done.2
I returned to the cacophony of my questions: whose voices were brought into this massive archive? What about the uninvited excesses that may have trickled in, puncturing their way through and slinking into the material? What were the vocalisations being mined for? Can the process of extracting and canning languages be merely one of preservation? As they stay locked in material archives for decades, do they change? Ripen? Shimmer? Mature? Mutate?
Caught in this tumultuous whirlwind of questions, I played the record once more, and then again. Play, pause, repeat. As the playhead moved, I heard the glimmer of another voice within the crackles of the recording. Further ahead, a faint whisper emerged from the depths of the hisses, fuzz, and static. Snatches of words, mutterings, and susurrations filled the air. Like wisps of smoke, the fragments appeared and disappeared. In the crackle were murmurs of time, ‘unsettling the very distinction between surface and depth, between background and foreground’.3 The delayed voices and inchoate remnants of the speakers’ desires melted into one another, pulsating, syncopating, and straining to be audible.
With the next dizzying repetition of the many that evening, I was transported back to the room of the recording, and the scene of the captured sound being played back to the speaker of the language or the narrator of the tale. I thought I saw the disc glisten as it caught wet residues of the voices and aleatoric resonances drifting in the air, producing the undulations of a crackle within the joins of its inscriptions. The imprints of a nervous sigh, the impatient clucking of a tongue, a cloaked laugh, bursts of broken babble — it was all impressed on the surface of the disc.
In her essay, ‘The Miner’s Ear’, Rosalind Morris writes of the significance of overhearing. She says, ‘To understand the history and nature of gold mining in South Africa and elsewhere, one must listen for different and false or “accidental” resonances, the mere coincidence of frequencies that amplify each other.’4
If one were to attentively listen to the false notes and incidental resonances contained in these multilingual samples, many more stories would tumble out of the crackles in the shellac. These minor tales would tell of the misgivings of the speaker, misadventures of the operator, confusions of the listener(s), entangled with structural violence of a society divided by caste, class, and religious lines while being exploited by the colonial powers.
At times, the resonant impulses of the rooms in which they played, would cancel and tune out certain other frequencies in the recordings themselves. Appearances, emergences, subtractive, and additive processes altered the field of the linguistic data, the capture of which was a promise of supreme administrative power. However, the territorial mapping and mining of the linguistic regions of the subcontinent was to yield not only precious knowledge of the subjugated but also embed the language specimens with communal and ideological charge5 that would (re)shape future nationalisms.
In some ways, by drawing attention to India as a linguistic region per se, the Survey was at odds with the colonial state’s conceptualisation of India, in which religious and caste differences were key in its understanding of Indian society. LSI’s mapping of Indian languages was also at odds with the colonial state’s cartographical imagination. It complicated the notion of India as a single, coherent, self-referential geography…6
It is said that George A Grierson had a dream. In the dream, his voice exploded and expanded in a way that could take on the shape of all possible voices that exist, or that have ever existed, in the subcontinent. Every voice spoke a specific language and belonged to a particular region. As he went around far and wide, encountering, gathering, and emulating all the voices he could find, his appetite to mine for more grew. Until, in his state of hypnagogia, he heard a voice, a singing voice, that he simply couldn’t simulate. The song persisted in his dreams, and the urge to locate its source grew stronger. However, his quest also involved the challenging task of being able to synthesise this acousmatic voice — to bring it to life and give it a form, a body.
Charles Babbage, The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, (London: John Murray, 1837) 109-117. ↩
Babbage, The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, 112. ↩
Javed Majeed, ‘Grierson and Hindu Nationalism,’ Nation and Region in Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India, (New York: Routledge, 2019) 147. ↩
Javed Majeed, Nation and Region in Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India, (New York: Routledge, 2019) 200. ↩
The etymology of both ‘survey’ and ‘surveil’ happen to share common origins in the French and Latin root words ‘sur’: over, and ‘veiller’: to keep watch.
This ubiquitous voice that resounds through Grierson’s dream listens widely and intently, shape-shifts and reproduces all that it hears, harking back to Borges’ ‘The Library of Babel’1 — a library that comprises every single book that has ever been written. Borges reinterprets the biblical legend of Babel into a library, a few decades after Grierson attempts to instantiate his dream into the survey.
The origin myth of the Tower of Babel is about the deliberate fragmentation of a common shared language that is spoken by all the people of the world into innumerable distinct ones — a strategy by God to block people from coming together to blasphemously build a tower all the way to heaven. Thus, the people of the world are divided into multiple linguistic groups, and struggle to communicate with one another.
Returning to Borges’ library, there is also another story about ‘a map of the empire whose size was that of the empire, and which coincided point for point with it.’2 The imagination of this precise cartography that suffices only insofar as it generates a map of the exact scale as the empire itself, coincides with the voracious colonial appetite to swallow whole and ingest every possible morsel of language that can be heard in the empire. Though the desire to trace out this map of vernacular speech was laden with the promise of the ultimate mastery and control over the people, there were limits to the digestibility and regurgitation of this kind of data. In one of the volumes, Grierson expresses his consternation about the unstable borders of linguistic identities.
What is wanted is definite information regarding a state of affairs which is essentially indefinite, a want which it is manifestly impossible to supply. It is most nearly supplied by selecting fixed points, where, at each, we are certain that a well-defined language is spoken, and, taking these as the foundations of our hypothesis, by drawing arbitrary lines showing the imaginary boundaries which do not exist, but which give the needed definite impression of the approximate area in which each recognised form of speech is spoken.3
Consistent with the Borgesian device of the object that attempts to hold and foreclose infinite thought, was Grierson dreaming up an object voice that could speak of all the possible ways in which to chart out new and infinitesimal routes for extending the empire’s access and reach? The logic of this voice rests upon the ultimate degree of comprehension, legibility, and reproducibility of far-ranging sonorous territories as a means to arrive at supreme efficiency. But the indefatigable surveyor’s impulse to extract, capture and bottle up diverse knowledges and discrete codes of communication gets interrupted by the elusive euphonic song that escapes. Within this cartography of voices constituting this library of languages, the unrecognised territory of the singing voice is an excess that must be classified, lest it cuts through the colonial undertaking and supplants it with another, producing an unstoppable scattering. Is there another anachronistic story of Babel, narrated and hidden somewhere in the oral archives?
Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Library of Babel,’ Collected Fictions, Trans. Andrew Hurley, (New York: Penguin, 1998) 112-118. ↩
Borges, ‘The Library of Babel,’ 325. ↩
George A. Grierson, LSI, Vol. 5: Indo-Aryan Family (Eastern Group), Pt. 1: Specimens of the Bengali and Assamese Languages, (Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent, Government Press, 1903) 18. ↩
Each listener, recorded in the archive, is preserved in the surface and depth of the crackles, in the grooves and cavities of the sound objects, in the tessellated soundscapes of the static and the noise.
A few days back, I was watching the documentary Sisters with Transistors (2020). As I floated through the narrative, piecing together the radical moves in electronic music by a host of spectacular women composers — the image of Meena Narayanan flashed in my mind. Working as an audio engineer in the first talkie recording studio in Chennai, Sree Srinivasa Cinetone (Sound City), she pioneered experiments in sound and analogue composition as early as the 1930s. Having worked on many films including Srinivasa Kalayanam (1934) and Viswamitra (1936), she was on the lookout for expanding her field of practice and technical expertise with the limited access to audio technologies available at that time in the region.
The voice of Gauhar Jaan, among the earliest voices to be recorded in early twentieth century India, was one that she would listen to often — her all-time earworm. One afternoon as Meena played her track Ras ke bhare noore nain (sparking eyes that are welled up with a sweet extract), she felt parts of the record mutate into another singing voice that was uncannily similar and yet different in tone and texture from Gauhar Jaan’s. To another ear, they might have felt the same. Bits and pieces of the
kept appearing between the recesses and cracks of Gauhar’s thumri and started to ring in Meena’s ears. In the wake of this recurring incident, her search for the unidentified song and voice began; a search that would take her to various studios, musicians, technicians, and recordists. The task of digging for the song among the crates and inventories of records filled up her time in between her own commissioned work and explorations. A few months later, as she sat reading her uncle CV Raman’s research on whispering galleries, she came across Golghar, the granary in Bankipore, known for its extraordinary acoustic features due to its circular construction.1
Physicist CV Raman, known for his ground-breaking theorisation of the scattering of light, was also thinking through the scattering of sound. In his 1922 paper on whispering galleries, he describes the peculiar acoustic design of the old government granary in Bankipore, India. Built in 1783, it is shaped like a beehive, and never quite fulfilled its utilitarian function of storing grain owing to the loss from dampness, rats, and insects. Raman notes of the sound inside, ‘It is chiefly remarkable for its reverberating echo, which answers to the slightest sound, a whisper at one end being repeated at the other.’2
The granary had recently been converted to a temporary store house for shellac records that were being produced in Calcutta and were in transit en route to England. Meena’s penchant for sonic wonders got the better of her, and she decided to make her way to Patna for a recce. Armed with a journal and the incessant ringing of the song in her ears, she reached Bankipore. Once there, she walked around, exploring the space, and trying to locate the ‘accidental resonances and the configuration of the everlasting echo that would appear when the listener stood at the centre and uttered a syllable.’1 The gloomy and dark space, with its bare brick walls and commanding height, left her feeling dwarfed, and the resounding of her footsteps thronged the otherwise empty space. On hearing about a section of the gallery that was in use for storing phonograph discs, she instantly asked to be guided there. Overcome with curiosity, she browsed through old and damaged shellac discs that may have been lying in storage for years, unclaimed, unclassified, forgotten, perhaps even damaged in a permanent state of transit. Nestled within one of the many vaults, an almost-empty cabinet stared at her. Labelled LSI, the only material it contained was a lone record tagged Recording Number 6838AK — Hassaina’s song. She requested the technician to play it for her. As the familiar song wafted in and filled up the space, reflecting off the walls in distorted ways, the realisation struck her. She knew the song from the crackles and fissures of Gauhar Jaan’s recording. The low undertones of
CV Raman, ‘On Whispering Galleries,’ 159-172. ↩
were strikingly amplified by the curious acoustics of the granary.
Language Family: Indo-Aryan central group
Recording Number: 6838AK
Narrator District: Delhi
Narrator Province: Delhi
A strange event was reported in Patna, during the monsoons of 1921. One day the keeper of the records at the Bankipore archive woke up to a sharp whistling sound. Arose a thick sibilance of the kind that was inescapable, filling up the entire volume of the space. A sheet of hushed murmurs slowly expanded into a cloud of whispers, stretching, contorting, and reflecting off the walls, circular roof, and steep staircases.
The keeper went deep into the burrows of the granary, trying to locate the source of the sounds that clung to the walls and followed him, all the while evading his reach. Just when he sensed he was close to capturing the source, there would be a momentary muffling, causing him to lose the trace, and then from nowhere the susurrations would start to shadow him again. He started to mumble to himself, involuntarily almost, in an attempt to mask, or at best diminish, the murmurs that had enveloped him. With that, the levels and sources of the sibilance multiplied. Canned whispers leaked out into the atmosphere — the voices, songs, and spillages from the oral archives mockingly bounced around the room. At times the voices seemed to emanate from within the walls, and at other times spiralling up the staircase or skimming along the floor, only to settle in a quiet, dark corner. Soon he found himself losing control of the movements in his own mouth.
The susurrations aren’t digestible anymore. What helps is to not speak, to resist inducing voiced vibrations. He clasped his mouth shut. Tightly clamped. The levels reduced; the sibilance became dimmer. But the voices spread manically, their resonances still floating, origins untraceable. Lists were being read out meticulously. Panic-struck, he exited the space. The sounds ceased. Never again was a record keeper hired.
Many years passed. The record keeper’s daughter, while travelling in London, happened to meet with the archaeologist TC Lethbridge, who was postulating the Stone Tape theory for his ongoing research. Taking off from Charles Babbage’s speculations that spoken words left permanent traces in air albeit inaudible, Leithbridge was attempting to investigate how natural environments, materials, and architectural features hold or ‘record’ sonic events and the ways in which these acoustic memories get activated or ‘replayed’ through the presence of specific human agents and psychic energies.
Finding the hyperlinkages between her father’s accounts and the hypothesis in development, she narrated the tale to Lethbridge. A team of audio forensic experts and archaeoacousticians was soon sent to the site for digging and tuning in. Amongst a few remnant records, bags, and papers, what was also found was a set of ear plugs, subsequently shipped off to London along with the rest of the material.
Recently, when I saw images and plans of the granary, it struck me that the architectonics of the space seemed to be constructed like the inside of a mouth. The valleys and ridges, nooks and crannies — all contribute to the sounding, shaping, and amplification of certain phonetics and syllables. Vocalisations that are produced due to the recurrence of lingual notations, in fact, over a period of time, start to alter the internal surfaces and shape of the palate irreversibly. The landscapes of the mouth are both forming and formed by the soundscapes of spoken language. The formulation of Palate Tectonics by DC Barker analysed the voice as the prolonged phylogenetic impact product of the collision between the vertical spinal-axis and the roof of the mouth, in the course of the evolution towards erect posture.1 In the spatial imitation of the vocal apparatus, and in the presence of the phonograph operator, the granary then became the crash site of the repressed extralingual phonetics, activated, and released from the linguistic records.
DC Barker, ‘Palate Tectonics,’ Plutonics 10, no. 12, 1992. ↩
What connects the two words whistle and whisper, other than the fact that etymologically they have a common root…‘hwi’ — of imitative origin? Aren’t both, in a way, summons? Invocations of a kind that slip under the breath and extend beyond the range of audibility permitted by proximity?
In Mark Katz’s text, ‘Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music’, he outlines seven ideas that make up ‘phonograph effects’, a term he mobilises to describe several of the phonograph’s influences evident in musical, cultural, and social life: tangibility, portability, invisibility, repeatability, temporality, manipulability, and receptivity. As explained by Katz, ‘A “Phonograph Effect” is any change in musical behaviour — listening, performing, or composing — that has arisen in response to sound-recording technology. In other words, it is any observable manifestation of recording’s influence.’1 For example, temporality refers to how sound is rendered into an object delimiting music into chunks, thus affecting musicians’ playing time and giving rise to specific musical genres as a consequence. The typical length of today’s pop songs — usually about three minutes — is a phonograph effect of the original records, he explains. Though while developing his catalogue of ‘phonograph effects’, Mark Katz misses out on the discriminatory predispositions, inequities, and power structures that creep into and reassert themselves through each of these manifestations of capturing sound.
Mark Katz, Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music, (University of California Press, 2010) 2. ↩
tangibility of consumership
the portability of biases
invisibility of bodies
repeatability of privileges
temporality of resistance
receptivity of hegemony
manipulability of access
An anecdote in an article covering the discovery of the Linguistic Survey of India tuned into the transfer of these divisive truths. Nestled deep within hard-coded social structures engulfing the recorded object, these realities found a way to inscribe themselves into this recording taken by George A Grierson:
The scholar Ganganath Jha, who was approached for the Sanskrit reading, was scandalised to learn that a ‘mlechha’ would be privy to his chaste Sanskrit. A demand was made for a certifiably Brahmin gramophone operator. The Raj, almost as unbending as Brahmins, refused. A compromise was reached: Jha sat in a room and spoke into a large horn-like object that projected his voice into another room where the operator sat. Communication between the two was by means of a complicated system of switches to ensure that the operator didn’t physically hear the Sanskrit. And that was enough to assuage the Brahmin guilt about speaking Sanskrit into a device that held the power to broadcast it to the world.1
An appendage to the above account was brought to my attention after a little more digging. The source requested to remain anonymous. It turns out that other than being asked to be in a separate room, the operator was also given heavy metallic ear plugs to wear, just to eliminate all possibility of him hearing any bits and parts of a language reserved for only the caste groups at the top of the graded hierarchy. However, the sophisticated arrangement ended up coupling with the metallic alloy in the earplugs to create a corrupt transmission. Like the principle of a diaphonie in which parallel harmonies are interlocked together, or a diaphoneme where dialectical variants can be in tune with one another, the superimposed transfer of phonological units via acoustic signal was a recipe for corrosion, slippages, misrecognition and overhearings.
This unintended synchronicity rendered the tympanic membrane extra sensitive to vibrations beyond the legible range, thus transforming the ear plugs into a pair of extra receivers that could pick the inaudible frequencies and hushed tones from the other room. Whispers that were not transmittable by the apparatus alone could now be heard with utmost clarity. Like Leonora Carrington’s sinuous hearing trumpet,2 they could catch utterances that were far away, muffled, bent at the corners, or twisted beyond recognition.
While the actual translation remained inaudible to the operator, what he could overhear was a subdued conversation between Ganganath Jha and George A Grierson. Over the next hour, an intense dialogue unfolded around the tectonics of the colonial language, artistries of voice, geological shifts mapped to thoracic impulses, and the intricacy of vocal arrangements predetermined by Varnas and caste ‘purity’, as a parameter for lossless transmission into the future. As the gramophone operator tuned into the dialogue by means of the ear plugs, he simultaneously found a way to record this channel separately. Distorting and compressing the surreptitious track over the original, he stacked away the coded cans for posterity.
(The Lucky Voice is adapted from the story An Unlucky Face, recording no. 5706AK.)
In the introduction to the LSI digital archive, Professor Shahid Amin notes:
The Survey was primarily to be a collection of specimens, ‘a standard passage was to be selected for purposes of comparison’. Its ‘foundation’ was comprised of three specimens for every language and dialect: the standard translation, the passage collected locally for the full idiomatic range, and a list of words and sentences originally devised by the Bengal Asiatic Society in 1866. The template passage was to be ‘a version of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with slight verbal alterations to avoid Indian prejudices’. The parable was chosen, Grierson coyly remarked in a footnote, because ‘it contains the three personal pronouns, most of the cases found in the declension of nouns, and the present, past, and future tenses of the verb’. Specimens of this crucial first passage used for comparative analysis, were then not the writing down of how the ‘locals’ spontaneously told this biblical tale in their own tongues. ‘What was … aimed at was the acquisition of specimens in the home language of each translator’. Those literate in English rendered it in their ‘native tongue’ from the English Bible. Others accessed it by locating a version which they could read in another Indian language from a volume containing all the known versions of the parable in Indian languages specially printed for this purpose. In a crucial sense, this monumental, authentic digest of Indian languages was a project of recurring translation by bi-lingual Indians.3
Recently, a friend narrated a rather interesting exchange with a taxi driver in Turkey. Visiting for a brief period, she was struggling to make herself understood in English. One morning, she hailed a taxi to her friend’s home. As she attempted to share the location with the driver in a clouded mix of English and the little Turkish she had learnt during her stay, he looked at her bemused and said, ‘Don’t worry, I speak English. In fact, I speak every language of the world. All of them, you know. I am the lucky voice that you have had the fortune to find this morning.’
With that, he flicked open the complex multi-screen setup rigged to his dashboard. A translation app appeared on one of the screens while the other device displayed navigation in Turkish. The apparatus mediated the conversation between them, coherently, save for the intermittent interruptions to the network and server.
In the Dictionary of the Untranslatables, ‘to translate’ is explained as:
…in the generally accepted sense of ‘passing from one language to another,’ derives from a relatively late French adaptation of the Latin verb traducere, which means literally ‘to lead across’ and whose application is both more general and vaguer than translation itself. We do well to keep in mind this initial, indefinite vagueness attached to the verbs we translate as the verb ‘to translate,’ verbs that always also designate something additional or something other than the passage from one language to another.
An afterimage of Grierson’s dream appears as I listened to her account. I imagined myself sitting in the cab. The grin on his face felt oddly comforting as our conversations seamlessly flowed, only momentarily delayed by the app’s interface.
Sohini Chattopadhyay, ‘Voices from Colonial India,’ OPEN Magazine, 25 February 2011, https://openthemagazine.com/essays/arts-letters/voices-from-colonial-india/ ↩
Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet, trans. Helen Byatt, (Boston: The Exact Change, 1996). ↩
George A. Grierson, LSI, Vol. I, Pt. 1, first pub. 1927, reprint (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,1967), 17-18. ↩
‘Have you heard of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?’ I hear myself asking the driver. Is it not curious that this biblical tale of that which is lost and found again was used as a medium of translation for recording languages and dialects — many of which are not heard anymore?
He pores over the question and then seems to deflect a response by asking me to play a song in my mother tongue. His face lights up as an old disco number fills up the cab. He starts humming along to the song, the words forming themselves as he loses himself. The whispers start to bubble up within the insides of the taxi. The multiple screens go off and the translation system shuts down. The gyrating pulse of the song takes over.
The taxi service is called Babil, Turkish for chaos.
Meanwhile, glossolalia, known as speaking in tongues, continues to plague the latest line of Android conversational voice agents, imparted with the ability to comprehend and speak all languages for supreme efficiency and legibility. The online community help page is flooded with requests on how to get one’s voice assistant to speak in reverse.
This is how I heard Hassaina’s song once again.
‘The gramophone recordings from the Linguistic Survey of India are among a few of the Digitised Asiatic Library resources that have been offline following the failure of their central server in 2018. We are still struggling, with limited staff, to make them available again. The situation is complicated.’ — said the message response from my inquiries into accessing the archive.
Accessing the online audio archives was not as seamless as I had imagined. The failure of the server was eponymous with the strange events and mishearings unfolding over this time. I was disappointed, but perhaps this was a talisman, or one of many.
The appearance of sound, phonophany, is the face offered to subjectivity of a necessarily lacunar reality. The bridging of this gap, its exploitation, is precisely the function of discourses of authority. Authority acts as a discursive sticking-plaster over a reality that is continually breached. It makes the sensible speak, makes it into a signal.1
As I drift through these sonorous occurrences, serendipitous encounters, moments of recording, and of reprisal and reproduction yet to come — I try and imagine the operator criss-crossing across the subcontinent, with the apparatus in tow. A checklist of languages, dialects, recordings, archives, and menus.
Unable to stop recording, a restless movement — the uncontrollable chatter of the teeth, ceaseless murmurs, microscopic speech acts being inscribed on the uneven terrain of the sound object.
Sample, play, pause, repeat, rewind, record, restart…
To be continued…
François Bonnett, The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago (London: Urbanomic, 2016), 326. ↩
Suvani Suri is an artist and researcher based in New Delhi, India. She works with sound, text and intermedia assemblages and has been exploring various modes of transmission such as podcasts, auditory texts, sonic environments, maps, objects, installations, workshops and live interventions. In recent years, her work has been exhibited at Khoj Studios (2014), 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Mumbai Art Room (2018), Sound Reasons Festival VI (2018), Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia (2019), Five Million Incidents (2020). Alongside this, she has been teaching at several universities and educational spaces where her pedagogical interests conflate with a critical inquiry into the digital and sonic sensorium.
Digital archives, Linguistic survey of India, Gramophone Co.,Calcutta, Public domain, Europeana sounds, National Library of France, Public domain.
Tothszabi, ‘Gauhar Jaan, the very first Indian recording (1904),’ YouTube video, 7 October , 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC9dCdYwizk
The ‘Capture All: A Sonic Investigation’ collection considers how experimental practices of sound and listening may be mobilised as resources for understanding and intervening in forms of capture, extraction, and governance that haunt and influence life in settler- and post-colonial Australia and India.