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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Ander Rennick is a graphic artist based in Melbourne interested in the fetishisation of editorial, pedagogical, pornographic and mimetic commodities.
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.
Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis. Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Beau Lai (formerly Lilly) is an artist and writer currently based in Paris, France. Beau spent their formative years working intensively within the contemporary arts industry on Darug and Gadigal land in so-called 'Australia'. They are most well known for self-publishing their essay and work of institutional critique, 'Working at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. It does not exist in a vacuum', in 2020.
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.
Ben Raynor is an artist, living in Melbourne.
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.
Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer and theorist working with sound culture, voice, and questions of agency. Guided by situated and collaborative methodologies, he develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a range of international contexts, mostly working in public and with others. This leads to performative installations, poetic theater, storytelling, and research actions aimed at forms of experimental community making, as well as extra-institutional initiatives, including The Listening Biennial and Academy (2021-ongoing). From gestures of intimacy and listening to critical festivity and experimental pedagogy, his practice aligns itself with a politics and poetics of radical hospitality.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Casey (Nicholls-Bull) Jones is the assistant editor for Liquid Architecture's Disclaimer.
She is also an artist who utilises embodied knowledge, plant and herbal study, research, and deep listening as the backbones of her practice. Through unhurried and repetitive processes such as pyrographic wood burning techniques, oil painting, and the observation of and connection to natural cycles and materials, Jones uses these methods to rearrange, layer, peel back, and continually connect to knowledges, memories and histories that are personally felt, encountered, and observed around her. Jones uses the moon cycle as a continual framework to maintain the rhythm and logic of her practise, and is continually in the midst of deconstructing the complexity of working as a settler on unceded Wurundjeri land through her processes of both making and understanding. Her hope is that through circling, living through, and re-curringly interrogating these things she studies and tends to, something fruitful may gradually become embodied, communicated and understood in new ways by herself and those who encounter her work.
Sound Mastering: Casey Rice is an audio doula living and practicing on Djaara Country/Castlemaine, Victoria.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Dr. Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Internationally Known Private Ear
Serving Industries of Culture Since 2007
Licensed & Bonded: Goldsmiths College, University of London
Civil | Criminal | Human | Marital | Theological | Supernatural
Bureaus: Beirut, Berlin, Dubai, London
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.
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.
Elena Biserna is a scholar and independent curator based in Marseille (France), working at the intersection of social, political and public spheres.
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.
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.
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.
Emma Ramsay is active across experimental dance and DIY music; sound performance; and other text collaborations. She works in community media and archives.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Francis Carmody’s artistic practice serves as a useful alibi to reach out to people he admires across disciplines and technical capabilities to share stories and complete projects. Through tracing networks and natural structures, he would like to get to the bottom of what the hell is going on.
This process of enquiry draws on meticulous research, cold calling, persistence and frequent rejection. Creating an ever-expanding list of Project Partners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joel Stern is a post-doctoral fellow at the School of Media and Communication, RMIT. From 2013-22 he was Artistic Director of Liquid Architecture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kengné Téguia is a Black Deaf HIV+ cyborg artist, who works from sound deafinitely. #TheBLACKRevolutionwillbeDEAFinitelyLoud
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.
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.
Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and recently completed her PhD 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Martyn Reyes is a Filipino-Australian writer and artist based in Madrid. His work can be found in the Sydney Review of Books, Kill Your Darlings, SBS Voices, LIMINAL Magazine and more. He is currently working on a book-length project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Philip Brophy writes on music, among other things.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snack Syndicate, two rats (Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange) living on unceded Wangal land; texts, objects, events, meals, and publics.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
Tom Melick is the co-editor of Slug and part of the Rosa Press Collective and Stolon Press.
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.
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.
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).
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.
V Barratt is a trans-media artist, researcher, writer, and performer living on Kaurna Yarta, Adelaide.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
This interview was conducted on 13 September 2020. It was first transcribed automatically using Reduct and then reworked by human listeners.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me Lawrence. As you know, the context for this conversation is a project I’ve been working on recently with Joel Stern and Sean Dockray on ‘machine listening’. What we mean by that is this new field of knowledge-power, cultural and economic production, political contestation and struggle that seems to be emerging around the application of methods from AI and machine learning to audio. This is something you’ve addressed directly in your work with speech recognition for Aural Contract (2010) and, more recently, on ShotSpotter. But the figure of the machine comes up throughout your work, not just in relation to AI, and across all sorts of historical and political contexts. So I thought it could be interesting to talk more about that. How have you tended to think about the role of the machine in your work on forensic listening?Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Well, for me, whether the listening is machinic or not often doesn’t change the analysis. It’s not as if there’s two completely separate categories: human listening and machine listening. But it’s also true that my work on forensic listening really begins with the machine.
This is why I say all my research begins in 1984, with the introduction of the tape recorder to the police interview room in the UK. When the laws came in mandating that, they initiated a whole series of shifts. Australia is a good example actually. Australia was the second country to formally adopt laws like this… within a year of the UK I believe. And this was partly due to the work of Diane Eades, a forensic linguist and an amazing human. She dedicated her life to getting police to record interviews. It was all about forms of exclusion, particularly of Aboriginal voices.
She would take transcripts from the police — of supposed confessions to murder by Aboriginal people — and conduct hours of tape recordings with them herself to understand how they were being heard. What she found, of course, was systemic racism in the ears of the police. Police would just constantly hear things that hadn’t been said. They were policing what constituted English as a spoken language in the space of law.
And so what Eades said was, ‘Okay, we need to hear these interviews, understand what was said, and hear how police are listening.’ This was the same basic drive in the UK, though the drive for transparency there had more to do with including people whose accents didn’t conform with the way the police believed English ought to be spoken.
In both cases, the tape recorder comes in, and within two weeks you have the biggest voice archive in the world, because you have literally every police interview recorded, in the UK, Australia, and very soon the US.
And then what happens is this system starts to become generative of itself. Any speech captured in public space can now be cross-referenced with police tape recordings. Say you’re wiretapped on the phone. The police can then attempt to identify your voice or accent from their archive of recordings. And the two systems feed each other. Now what you’ve got is a system for voice profiling, which in turn starts building its own databases.
Say the police realise they need British Pakistani voices. They do some voice lineups, which are recorded. They use British Pakistani voices. Now suddenly they have a sample for the database.
So to answer your question, all my work on forensic listening begins in 1984, with the implementation of a machine brought into the police interrogation room. The questions this raised ended up becoming foundational for the rest of my work, whether or not a machine was involved.JP
In your work on language analysis for the determination of origin (LADO) in asylum claims, The Freedom of Speech Itself (2012) and Conflicted Phonemes (2012), you’re really concerned with this idea that the voice — a person’s accent, say, or their dialect, the particular kinds of words they use — isn’t an index of statehood; that a voice isn’t a passport. As it happens, the kinds of language tests you critique in these works, which used to be carried out over the phone by government subcontractors, are now being conducted by automated systems. The most famous example of this, Germany’s Federal Office for Immigration and Refugees has been using automated biometric and ‘forensic’ tools as part of their ‘integrated identity management’ system since 2016. The system, they say, is ‘unrivaled worldwide’ in its capacity to determine the origin of asylum seekers and ‘detect inconsistencies’ in people’s narratives about their need for protection. People like Anna Biselli, Michelle Pfeifer and Pedro Oliveira have done some great work on this. But if I’ve understood you correctly, what you’re saying is that the problem for you is the mechanistic logic itself, not whether or not this logic is actually being performed by a machine.LAH
Exactly. Or think about something like ShotSpotter, which suddenly starts installing microphones on roofs all over the city for its automated ‘gunshot detection, location and forensic system’. That was made a huge issue in the media, on privacy grounds. Never mind that we know the phone in your pocket is much more effective in this respect than a mic on a roof; especially considering that this mic is listening for gunshots anyway. So with ShotSpotter you get all these people saying, ‘Hey, what if it hears what I’m saying?’ And ShotSpotter would respond by saying ‘we don’t care about human speech’. Well, what if that’s true? What if we take them at their word?
That’s when I started investigating this claim by ShotSpotter that 80-95% of gunshots go unreported, and that this is the problem their system could fix. The machine comes in to replace people who don’t call 911. They say in these troubled neighborhoods nobody is calling the police, so we’ll make a system which will automatically call the police. It’s a way of accounting for silence. But it’s not asking why. It’s suggesting that because there’s this silence, it needs to be filled. Instead of listening to what that silence is a consequence of, which is the fact that people distrust the police.
Think of cases like Michael Brown’s, where you have a young black man shot and killed by a white police officer (Darren Wilson). The police get called, and they only make the situation worse. With machine listening, we come to the same problem. The machine tries to account for things, but the questions it’s asking are often the wrong ones. They’re almost completely distinct from the questions that need asking on a structural level.JP
Right, so the political problem with ShotSpotter isn’t whether or not it’s listening to you having a conversation on a street corner. The privacy framing sucks everything in in a way that’s really counterproductive. It’s a distraction or a misrecognition of the problem, politically speaking.LAH
In all of these questions, the origin isn’t the machine. The machine just asserts and replicates forms of domination and problems of listening that are at play more generally. I’m not saying it’s never different when the machine comes in. But in the case of ShotSpotter, what I find interesting isn’t only the mechanisms behind it — how it determines between forms of ammunition and fireworks, etc. — but the fact that no one is asking, ‘Where are the police shots?’ ShotSpotter has never been used to convict a police officer. But it has been used in many gang-related cases and gang-related killings or whatever else.JP
It seems like you’re already going in this direction, but at one point in your doctoral thesis, you say, ‘Shotspotter points to a society with a total lack of listening.’ We sometimes think of machine listening as a kind of completion of listening or maybe even a form of hyper-listening. But if you actually follow this logic through, what you end up with is something less than listening: an absence of listening.LAH
This idea that a system like Shotspotter substitutes for people’s ears or can somehow listen better is really pernicious. After all, it’s not that their microphones are particularly amazing and that humans simply can’t hear or recognise gunshots. What they ought to be asking is why don’t people call the police. There is a substitution of physical listening for political listening, in a way. I think that’s also a key point in the lie detector work.JP
This is The Whole Truth (2012) right? About this company Nemesysco, and their use of so-called ‘Layered Voice Analysis’ (LVA), a technology which they say performs ‘voice analysis for emotion detection, personality and risk assessment.’ And they sell this technology to organisations working in a whole range of contexts, ‘from formal police investigations to security clearances, from vetting and recruitment needs to personality tests, and from call center’s quality monitoring to intelligence gathering and lawful interception multi-channel analysis.’
Exactly. What happened there was that the machine was actually listening at such a high resolution that it was hearing digital silence. It was falling between the cracks of the frame rate of sound — the 44,000 samples per second — and sometimes pulling its verdicts about a person and their speech from digital silence.
What’s going on here is that Nemesysco is selling LVA as a substitute for people listening and needing to make decisions. They’re saying, you can automate that, you can bring people in who are just kind of tele-respondents, insurance brokers, or what have you. All they have to do is look at a screen to see what the voice analysis is doing. It’s a lack of listening. And in this case, it’s gone so far as to come to no sound at all. Nothing.
We know it works this way because of Francisco de Lacerda, from the University of Stockholm’s Department of Linguistics, who took an interest when Nemesysco tried to sell LVA to the Swedish government. He took the sample the company gave them and he worked with it and he spoke at it. And he took Nemesysco’s claims very seriously, right? He said, this company says its technology listens regardless of language. So then he just spoke. He made these really absurd recordings, speaking to the machine with a series of ‘aaahs’ and ‘eees’ and so on. And the system would respond: ‘true’ or ‘untrustworthy’ or whatever. But he always stayed very close to the claims the company was making of the technology. We could all make snide comments and look at it and say, that looks dodgy. But it actually demanded someone to be very uncynical and take to task everything being said of the technology in order to uncover the true extent to which it was snake oil. To me, this is a very inspiring way of dealing with technology, speaking to it and listening to it on that level. He applies precisely the kind of listening that the technology promises to perform, to the very technology itself.JP
Since making this work, have you followed Nemesysco at all, and the vast network of companies they’re associated with? It seems like the market for this kind of snake oil is expanding. I mean, it’s not just truth now, it’s emotions, depression, and all sorts of other physical and psychological states. This other company Clearspeed claims to be able to determine whether you’re a ‘risk’ for the purposes of insurance and welfare claims, just on the basis of your voice. Whatever ‘risk’ means! There are so many companies selling these kinds of products. Another one, Neurolex, run by Jim Schwoebel, is trying to develop what it calls the ‘Voiceome’. The idea is essentially that this is a version of the human genome project but for voice. There’s some kind of underlying fantasy, desire, or ideology of the voice in play here: about its legibility and capacity to reveal a certain kind of truth about a person.LAH
But again, we also participate in this fantasy. The question of how you perform into the machine or in relation to the machine is just as important as what the machine does. We need to be better at speaking to machines, or at least understand that speaking to machines is a distinct form; a new kind of language. A lot of the issue is that we assume the machine will eventually just understand us, precisely as these companies claim, so in a way we are actually propelling their surveillant desires.
It’s connected to some of my recent work on the Nuremberg trials actually, which I wasn’t expecting to speak about today. At Nuremberg, they had this system for the simultaneous interpretation of speech. It was built by IBM.JP
It was called the Hushaphone Filene-Finlay system I think. It had been used at various multilingual conferences before, but only for consecutive interpretation. So that it’s not the technology that gets introduced at Nuremberg but the system, the institution of simultaneous interpretation. I’ve done some work on this subject.LAH
I first came across this system in Cornelia Vismann’s fabulous essay ‘Breaks in Language at the Nuremberg Trials’. Well, it also had all these lights. And they were a crucial part of it. If the witness was speaking too fast, a yellow light would flash up, and sometimes it would start to dictate the pace of speech, for the pace at which the translator could translate. A flash of the red light meant the witness had to stop or repeat what they said because it was incomprehensible. The effect of this system was incredible. But when you read the official transcripts of the trial, they omit any interruptions caused by the lights. Along with any discussion about what the lights mean.
We have identified all the moments in the footage we could access of where the lights flash. And what you find is that judges would often say, for instance, please slow down, because the witnesses don’t get why a light has gone off in their face. You only see these lights in the video recordings, and even then often only as a reflection in a glass or on some fabric.
What you see at Nuremberg then is a kind of witness-machine, an apparatus of subject formation, where to be a witness you have to also be the technology as well, the technology through which you’re required to speak and listen. This has always been the case, but here it’s very literally performed.
For example, there was a Nazi named Walther Funk. He was Minister for Economic Affairs from 1938 to 1945. And he was eventually convicted at Nuremberg for a whole range of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Anyway, during his testimony, when the light turned off he would accelerate and speak louder, sort of breaking the hierarchy between himself and a subordinate telling him how he should speak in the trial. Another time there was a Russian witness, Jacob Grigoriev. A yellow light came on in the middle of him describing an atrocity, and it totally derailed his speech. There’s more than a minute where he cannot speak. The whole courtroom’s work at that point is imploring him to speak. They go: ‘you were saying,’ ‘this was your last sentence,’ ‘you said you were with your two sons.’ And everybody’s just flowing into this silence produced by this light. And then he suddenly manages to come back somehow, after a minute or so. It’s quite remarkable.
It’s such an interesting story though. I sometimes think there’s a whole project that understands the UN, or perhaps even the entire project of institutionalised international justice, as a kind of outgrowth of the introduction of simultaneous interpretation at the Nuremberg trials. An updated system is used at virtually every international court today, as I found out in the course of my own work on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. They couldn’t function without it.LAH
On that, I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but the Human Rights Council in Geneva has this huge great hall. Architecturally, it’s a classic space of oration in the lineage of the amphitheater. But there’s no amplified voice in the space. They removed all the loudspeakers. Where the speaker sits, you see them talking, but you don’t hear anything. The only way you hear is by a little earpiece that connects you to the podium. It changes everything, because the single earpiece is optional. Somebody’s speaking about say, to take an example from when I was there, Bosnia-Herzegovina. But everybody else is just working on presentations, passing papers, moving around, copying things, making notes, getting ready for their turn to speak. No one is there to listen to what anybody else has to say. It turns a kind of amphitheater into a kind of busy office. It’s a very bizarre change. Visually the room says one thing, but the technological system does something else in relation to the politics of listening. It’s just about registering and recording. The emphasis is on speaking for the machine; which is to say for the record.
So I do think there’s a direct link between this system and Nuremberg. And that these are important moments in the history of machine listening, or in the history of political or legal desires for the voice, to put it in a way that doesn’t foreground the machine. The machine is just a tool which allows for the materialization of a set of political desires, which are then revealed through listening back to the system.JP
I wonder how this sort of analysis would apply to something like a voice assistant or smart speaker? Which are also engaged in a kind of witnessing, and the production of a certain kind of record. Clearly we’re all engaged in a process of learning to speak to, or how not to speak to, these machines. And they’ve come a very long way since the speech recognition systems you were working with for Aural Contract (2010). We’ve been playing around with the idea of the ‘wake word’: ‘Alexa’, ‘Hey Siri’, ‘OK Google’ and so on. On one level, it’s the obvious point that wake words are disappearing as we’re increasingly growing accustomed to the smart speaker. What’s less clear is that the terminology is suggestive of the quality of wakefulness. The idea of the wake word implies that there’s a thing called asleep and then awake. But what is it precisely that the system hears when it’s awake? The qualities of wakefulness of a smart speaker are changing so rapidly and are completely opaque. So even when I say they’re changing so rapidly, I need to check myself because I actually don’t know, and I couldn’t know, and that’s part of the issue. When we speak to a voice assistant, we never really know how it is we’re being listened to.LAH
In 2016, when I was back in Beirut, there was no president at the time. Finally, after years and a lot of lobbying, Hezbollah got the president they wanted, which is Michel Aoun, the current president. He is pro Hezbollah, pro Syria, and everything changed from that point. I was of course doing a lot of radio interviews. When I was speaking in English to foreign journalists, I would say Syria, and immediately Siri would say, ‘how can I help you?’, at a time when I was already internalizing being listened to.
The wake word was just this kind of weird unavoidable thing for me. It awoke at the point where I was most fearful of those utterances. It just so happened that the surveillance and the thing I was talking about were falling in this kind of space of paranoia. When is it really not about listening? When is it about something else? When should we really be paying attention to Amazon storage rooms, or mechanical turk or whatever else?JP
I’m sometimes tempted to say with the kind of machine listening practiced by these big tech companies — which rely heavily on deep neural networks and huge concentrations of computing power — that it’s all about data really so that a lot of the time you can just sort of throw the listening bit out the window. But then the experience of datafication in relation to your voice specifically, or in relation to your sonic environment specifically, does mean something. These devices intervene in the soundscape. They’re part of a broader politics of being-listened-to.LAH
The ShotSpotter guy said something that stuck with me, but I’ve never been able to understand it. It’s something to do with what you just said about what’s between the idea of pure data and listening. He said, ‘what we would do is we listen to the horizon’. It was very important for me to hear him say that at the time. Essentially what he means is a kind of networked listening where you’re not really listening for any one individual sound, because it’s always based on triangulation. That idea of the horizon, it always struck me as a very significant choice of words, but I’ve never been able to fully process exactly what he meant. And it just occurred to me that when you were describing this idea James, I saw data as this kind of horizon space.
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.
Dr. Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Internationally Known Private Ear
Serving Industries of Culture Since 2007
Licensed & Bonded: Goldsmiths College, University of London
Civil | Criminal | Human | Marital | Theological | Supernatural
Bureaus: Beirut, Berlin, Dubai, London
The editors would like to thank Lawrence Abu Hamdan and his studio, Debris Facility, and Casey Jones. This interview was originally conducted for the Machine Listening interview series.