Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores old and new, lesser known and well known sounds that loosely fit under the banner of experimental music.
Jen Callaway is a Melbourne musician, sound and performance artist, photographer, and community services worker raised in various parts of Tasmania. Current projects include bands Is There a Hotline?, Propolis, Snacks and Hi God People; and upcoming film Here at the End, by Campbell Walker, as actor/co-writer.
Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. He was the 2019 recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition, and has scored feature-length films and nationally-touring theatre installations. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane.
Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, artist, scholar and curator, He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.
Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.
Australian musician Sean Baxter died on 15 March 2020. Part of Melbourne's improv scene, he is described by musician Anthony Pateras as possessing “a unique aesthetic vision and intellectual depth, mixing highbrow philosophical concepts with punk sensibilities in how he lived, spoke and played. He was pure energy.”
Drumkit and percussionist, Sean was an Australian improviser who forged an international reputation as a bold explorer of percussive possibilities both as a soloist and through his work with the acclaimed avant-garde trio, Pateras/Baxter/Brown. Focusing on the use of extended techniques applied to the conventional drum kit, he utilised an arsenal of metallic junk and other percussive detritus to expand the sonic palette of the percussion tradition. In addition to Pateras/Baxter/Brown, he was involved in many collaborations and was drummer for groups The Throwaways, Bucketrider, Lazy, SxSxSx and Terminal Hz.
Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.
Alessandro Bosetti is an Italian composer, performer and sound artist, currently based in Marseille. His work delves into the musicality of spoken language, utilising misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. His works for voice and electronics blur the line between electro-acoustic composition, aural writing and performance.
Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.
Mat Dryhurst is an artist who releases music and artworks solo and in conjunction with Holly Herndon and the record label PAN. Dryhurst developed the decentralised publishing framework Saga, which enables creators to claim ownership of each space in which their work appears online, and a number of audio plays that derive their narrative from the personal information of listeners. He lectures on issues of music, technology, and ideology at NYU, and advises the blockchain-based platform co-operative Resonate.is.
Sean Dockray is an artist, writer, and programmer living in Melbourne whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is also the founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and Aaaaarg.
Author of Hearing the Cloud (Zero Books), Emile Frankel is a writer and composer researching the changing conditions of online listening. In his spare time he runs the science fiction and critical fantasy publisher Formling.
Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.
Holly Herndon experiments at the outer reaches of dance music and pop. Born in Tennessee, Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s techno scene and repatriated to San Francisco, where she completed her PhD at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her albums include Platform (2015) and Proto (2019).
Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, and documenta 14.
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist.
Lisa Lerkenfeldt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sound, gesture and performance. Central to her practice is languages of improvisation and intimacy with technology. Traces of a personal discipline and form of graphic notation are introduced in the online exhibition 14 Gestures. The associated recorded work Collagen (Shelter Press, 2020) disrupts the role of the common hair comb through gesture and sound.
Haroon Mirza is an artist who intertwines his practice with the role of composer. Mirza considers electricity his main medium and creates atmospheric environments through the linking together of light, sound, music, videos and elements of architecture. Regularly showing internationally in group and solo exhibitions, Mirza’s work has also been included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion.
Shanghai native 33EMYBW (Wu Shanmin) has been an active member in the Chinese music scene for over a decade. She has also performed at CTM and Sinotronics in Germany, China Drifting Festival in Switzerland, and SXSW. Her 2018 album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was met with critical acclaim and voted one of the best electronic albums of 2018 by Bandcamp. In 2019 she released DONG2 EP under Merrie Records Beijing, and will premiere her sophomore album Arthropods (SVBKVLT) at Unsound 2019.
Alexander Garsden is a Melbourne-based composer, guitarist and electroacoustic musician, working across multiple exploratory musical disciplines. Recent work includes commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey and Eugene Ughetti; alongside performances with artists including Tetuzi Akiyama (Japan), Oren Ambarchi, Radu Malfatti (Austria), Julia Reidy, David Stackenäs (Sweden), and with Erkki Veltheim and Rohan Drape. From 2014 to 2019 Garsden was Co-Director of the INLAND Concert Series. He has taught through RMIT University and the University of Melbourne.
Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
Arben Dzika is an artist whose practice involves working with various media including, but not limited to: sound, image, word, and performance. His work primarily seeks to reflect on, interrogate, and play with technologies, systems, and human senses. Within his practice, he works as a producer and DJ under the moniker, Dilae.
Audrey Schmidt is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a regular contributor to Memo Review, co-editor the third issue of Dissect Journal, and has written for various publications including Art Monthly, Art + Australia and un Magazine. She co-founded Minority Report with Adam Hammad in 2018 and released one online issue that was available until the domain expired in 2019. Audrey sits on the FYTA (GR) Board of Advisors.
Autumn Royal is a poet, researcher, and educator based in Narrm/Melbourne. Autumn’s current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. Autumn is the interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, and author of the poetry collections She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016) and Liquidation (Incendium Radical Library, 2019).
Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator and writer researching contemporary practice in Southeast Asia, and relationships between individuals and collectives in relation to history, globalisation, identity and community building. Currently working at Regional Arts Victoria, Bianca was previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGA. She holds a BA (University of Melbourne), and BA Honours from the ANU where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art. In 2018 Bianca was selected for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Curators’ Intensive.
Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. Hioe is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, as well as an occasional translator.
Chi Tran is a writer, editor, and an artist who makes poems that may be text, video, object, sound, or drawing. Chi is primarily interested in working with language as a means of coming-to-terms. Their work has been published by Incendium Radical Library Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry and Liminal Magazine and exhibited at galleries including Firstdraft, Sydney; Punk Café, Melbourne; and ACCA, Melbourne. In 2019, as a recipient of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Chi spent three months in New York developing their practice with renowned poets including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Fred Moten, and Jackie Wang.
Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a Hong Kong–Australian artist, living in Sydney. Working across music, performance and installation, Rainbow is interested in the copy and how the ways in which it can disrupt Western notions of ownership. Central to Rainbow's work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the counterfeit as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production.
Dale Gorfinkel is a musician-artist whose stylefree improvisational approach informs his performances, instrument-building, and kinetic sound installations. Aiming to reflect an awareness of the dynamic nature of culture and the value of listening as a mode of knowing people and places, Dale is interested in bringing creative communities together and shifting perceived boundaries. Current projects include Prophets, Sounds Like Movement, and Music Yared as well as facilitating Art Day South, an inclusive arts studio with Arts Access Victoria.
Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.
Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. As part of his practice Eric plays the violin, dances and composes music. Working with his family’s custodial songs he seeks to revive and continue on an age old legacy – continuing the tradition of singing in his tribe – utilising his talents to combine and create an experience of his peoples culture.
Fjorn Butler is an artist, researcher, and event organiser. As an artist, she works primarily in sound and performance under the name Papaphilia. As a researcher, she interrogates how biological discourses are used in neoliberal/colonial governance structures to shape the political. Fjorn's research informs her writing on sound-poetics and the challenges this framework poses to anglophone notions of property. She is also co-director of Future Tense and co-curator of Writing and Concepts.
Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist and ensemble performer of classical and contemporary repertoire, curator and improviser within experimental music, electronics, popular and cross-disciplinary art forms. Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia's leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble (as core member) and Ensemble Offspring. Her curatorial roles include co-curator/founder of the regular 'Opus Now' music series and previous curator of the NOW Now festival and Rosenberg Museum.
Gooooose (Han Han) is an electronic music producer, visual artist and software developer based in Shanghai, China. His current releases include They (D Force, 2017), Dong 1 (D Force, 2018), Pro Rata (ANTE-RASA, 2019). Gooooose's 2019 SVBKVLT–released RUSTED SILICON received positive reviews from media including boomkat, Resident Advisor, Dusted Magazine, and The Wire. Gooooose has performed live at CTM (Berlin, 2018), Nyege Nyege (Kampala, 2019), Soft Centre (Sydney, 2019), Unsound (Kraków, 2019) and Recombinant (San Francisco, 2019).
Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer who holds a doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow. James has been commissioned as a composer by ensembles including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs in Australia and internationally.
Jessica Aszodi is an Australian-born, London-based vocalist who has premiered many new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, and sung roles ranging from standard operatic repertoire to artistic collaborations. She has been a soloist with ensembles including ICE; the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; and San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras’ chamber series. Aszodi can be heard on numerous recordings and has sung in festivals around the world. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, an MFA from the University of California, and is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), and artistic associate of BIFEM.
Kt Spit (Katie Collins) is an artist and musician based in Narrm (Melbourne). Lyrically and visually her work explores subcultural narratives and challenges dominant representations of loss, grief, and true love. In 2015 Kt independently released her debut album, Combluotion, and in 2019 will release a visual album entitled Kill the King.
The Convoy conjure illustrious soundscapes from the abyss of chaos, revealing hidden worlds of the imagination as the performance takes form and infuses with subjective experience. Using instruments of sound, light and smell, The Convoy enchant space with themes of tension, evolution, entropy and regeneration. Sensorial immersion transports audiences through highly dynamic environments that shift and blend into one single, breathing moment. As entity, rather than singular, Immy Chuah is a guest within The Convoy on unceded land.
Sam Peterson is interested in what can be done with one’s identity and the space around it.
'Both my body and mind, touching everyday feelings between the rational, the playful and the political. Of course, this is often to do with my disability and my sexuality. My work has been focused on access, and the lack of it — to places, people’s minds and opportunities. I find plasticine is a great subverter of space and potentially of people’s minds. And the continued flexibility of it is something I am really enjoying — covering or filling up gaps and playing with crevices. But I’m finding that my work is drawing more and more to spoken word as a powerful format.'
Sarah McCauley is a Melbourne-based music producer, editor and writer.
Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man. He is well known in Narrm/Birraranga for his musical project DRMNGNOW, a project built on subject matter tackling the colonial nature of the Australian construct and how that affects contemporary society upon this land. The work is unapologetic, clear, and deeply poetic. It hints toward Morris's extensive experience as a spoken word artist in Narrm since 2015. Morris's work is triumphant in the face of severe adversity often imbued in a quite fortified melancholy, a powerful marker of the survival of First Nations peoples in the now.
Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. Through her artistic practice she investigates the idea of how fear, horror, and terror could be manifested in order to control the public and how fictional accounts of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ might operate as a method of speculative fiction that determines expectations for the future.
Mat Spisbah is a New Media curator with a unique portfolio of programming that seeks to integrate non-traditional artistic methods and emerging technologies. Having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years, he is connected to the region’s art and culture, and has created professional networks with artists, curators, galleries, promoters and industry professionals across Australasia. Portfolio highlights include the debut Australian performances of north Asian artists including: Howie Lee, Rui Ho, Meuko Meuko, Pan Daijing, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Tzusing, and Gabber Modus Operandi.
Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.
Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and PhD candidate researcher at Monash University. Her writing and art have been published and exhibited both within Australia and internationally. Quintanilla’s practice is a collaborative one that manifests into outcomes within galleries and also as events and performances outside of that context. She regularly speaks at panels and symposiums on themes within her research, has received grants for her projects and residencies, and has taught at university level.
Amanda Stewart is a poet, author, and vocal artist. She has created a diverse range of publications, performances, film and radio productions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the USA, working in literature, new music, broadcasting, theatre, dance, and new media environments. Amanda collaborated with Chris Mann for many years in the Australian ensemble, Machine For Making Sense (with Jim Denley, Rik Rue, and Stevie Wishart), as well as in other contexts. Her poem ‘ta’ was written in honour of Chris Mann’s extraordinary vision and work.
Holly Childs is an artist and writer. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, earth, memory, poetry, and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram, Melbourne) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa, London), and she collaborates with Gediminas Žygus on ‘Hydrangea’. She is currently writing her third book, What Causes Flowers Not to Bloom?.
Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary, Disturbance, and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press, 2019). A Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK), her work is widely published and anthologised (twice in Best Australian Poems), with poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.
Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.
Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Johnny is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.
Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Megan is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra, and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NYC) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.
Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis. Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.
Shota is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Shota is currently an honours student who is associated with the Plant ecophysiology and Ecosystem processes lab at the University of Sydney.
Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work, and the forms they take, are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.
Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on unceded Wangal land in Sydney, Australia. Through her practice, Alex attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. Her aesthetic favours field recordings, analogue technologies and object interventions. Alex has presented her art/music in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America including Vancouver Art Gallery; BBC Radio 3 & 4; Ausland, Berlin; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Sound Forms Festival, HK; MCA ARTBAR, Firstdraft Gallery, and Liveworks Festival, with Liquid Architecture, Sydney. And she has released her work with labels Room40, Longform Editions, More Mars (with MP Hopkins) and Canti Magnetici.
MP Hopkins is an artist working on Gadigal and Wangal land in Sydney, Australia that makes audio, performance, radiophonic, and textual works. He uses voice, feedback, recording/playback devices, and verbal notation within different acoustic environments, which are deconstructed and presented to the listener in delicate and degraded ways. Hopkins has released recordings with Penultimate Press, Canti Magnetici, Tahalamos, Mappa Editions and Regional Bears. He has presented projects for the NOW now, Liquid Architecture, Avantwhatever, and The Make It Up Club. International appearances include Café Oto, UK; LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore; Les Ateliers Claus, Belgium; TUSK Festival, UK; Colour Out of Space Festival, UK; and he has produced radiophonic works for Radiophrenia, Kunstradio, and the Radia network.
Joel Stern is a researcher, curator, and artist living in Naarm / Melbourne, Australia, and a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in DSC in the School of Media & Communication, RMIT. With a background in experimental music, Stern’s work focuses on practices of sound and listening and how these shape our contemporary worlds.
Between 2013 and 2022, Stern was Artistic Director of Liquid Architecture, leading the organising and developing artistic research projects such as Eavesdropping, Machine Listening, Polyphonic Social, Why Listen?, Instrument Builders Project, and Ritual Community Music. He is an editorial associate of Disclaimer journal.
Georgia Hutchison is a cultural development practitioner and arts executive in Naarm/Melbourne, and Executive Director/CEO of Liquid Architecture. Her practice as an artist, educator, organiser and strategist crosses contemporary art, music, design and social justice.
Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu) is a new and original voice in the evolving journey of Taonga Puoro. His debut album Whāia te Māramatanga (Rattle Records) is a deeply felt and highly concentrated conversation between the past and the present—a musical passage of identity and connection. Using modern loop technology and traditional Māori flutes and horns made from stone, bone, shell and wood, Thorne creates a transcendent aural experience that touches the soul with timeless beauty. Every performance of Whāia te Māramatanga is a stunning and very personal exploration of the spiritual and healing qualities of an ancient practice.
Michiko Ogawa is a performer-composer specialising in the clarinet, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She performs not only classical repertoire but also contemporary and experimental music, including free improvisation and film soundtrack work. In 2019 she was awarded a doctorate (DMA) from the University of California San Diego, with a dissertation focusing on the film music of Teiji Ito. She is in the beginning stages of writing a biography of Ito’s life.
Curious about the tender intersections between art, life and friendships, Emma Nixon is an emerging curator and writer. In 2018 she completed a Bachelor of Art History and Curating at Monash University and co-founded Cathedral Cabinet ARI in the Nicholas Building. In Melbourne she has curated and written about exhibitions that investigate subjects such as abstraction, the domestic, care and collage within contemporary art.
Fayen d’Evie is an artist and writer, based in Muckleford, Australia. Her projects are often conversational and collaborative, and resist spectatorship by inviting audiences into sensorial readings of artworks. Fayen advocates the radical potential for blindness, arguing that blindness offers critical positions and methods attuned to sensory translations, ephemerality, the tangible and the intangible, concealment, uncertainty, the precarious, and the invisible. With artist Katie West, Fayen co-founded the Museum Incognita, which revisits neglected or obscured histories through scores that activate embodied readings. Fayen is also the founder of 3-ply, which investigates artist-led publishing as an experimental site for the creation, dispersal, translation, and archiving of texts.
Debris Facility Pty Ltd is a para-corporate entity who engages im/material contexts with the view to highlight and disrupt administrative forms and their embedded power relations. Deploying print, design, installation, and wearables as the most visible parts of operations, they also work in experimental pedagogy and perforated performance of labour. They are a white-settler parasite with theft and dispossession as the implicated ground from which they work. They currently hold contracts with Liquid Architecture, Victorian College of the Arts, Monash University and Debris Facility Pty Ltd.
Timmah Ball is a writer and urban researcher of Ballardong Noongar descent. She has written for The Griffith Review, Right Now, Meanjin, Overland, Westerly, Art Guide Australia, Assemble Papers, The Big Issue, The Lifted Brow, the Victorian Writer magazine and won the Westerly Patricia Hackett Prize for writing.
Jessie Scott is a practising video artist, writer, programmer and producer who works across the spectrum of screen culture in Melbourne. She is a founding member of audiovisual art collective Tape Projects, and co-directed and founded the inaugural Channels Video Art Festival in 2013.
Christopher L G Hill is an artist, poet, anarchist, collaborator, facilitator, lover, friend, DJ, performer, sound pervader, publisher of Endless Lonely Planet, co-label boss; Bunyip trax, traveller, homebody, dancer, considerate participator, dishwasher, writer, bencher, eater, exhibitor: Sydney, Physics Room, Westspace, TCB, BUS, Punk Cafe,100 Grand street, Lismore Regional Gallery, Good Press, Gambia Castle, Conical, GCAS, NGV, VCA, Mission Comics, Slopes, Art Beat, Papakura Gallery, Neon Parc, UQ Gallery, Tate Modern, Connors Connors, Glasgow International, Sandy Brown, OFLUXO, New Scenarios, Margaret Lawrence, Flake, Utopian Slumps, World Food Books, Sutton, Rearview, Joint Hassles, a basement, a tree, Innen publications, SAM, Chateau 2F, etc, and tweeter, twitcher, sleeper, Biennale director (‘Melbourne Artist initiated’ 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018-20), DJ, retired gallerist Y3K, conversationalist who represents them self and others, born Melbourne/Narrm 1980c.e, lives World.
Iliass Saoud was born in Halba, Lebanon in 1960 as the sixth of eight children of Wakim and Nadima Saoud. Escaping the Lebanese Civil War in 1977, Iliass migrated to Canada pursued a BA in Mathematics from Dalhouse University in 1982. In 1987 he married Janice Joseph (Fakhry) before settling in Australia to raise his family in 1997, owning a variety of small businesses including the Gaffney Street post office across from the Lincoln Mill’s Centre in Coburg from 2005-2011. Currently, Iliass works part time at a local newsagency and is an avid Bridge player and a dedicated grandfather of one.
Dimitri Troaditis works in the Greek-Australian media. As a poet he has been extensively published in Greece and in Australia in numerous literary journals, websites, blogs and anthologies. He has published six poetry collections and two social history books so far. He has organised poetry readings in Melbourne for years and translates others’ poetry. He runs poetry website To Koskino and was a resident of Coburg for 19 years.
Luisa Lana was born in Australia in 1953. Her mother Nannina had arrived in Australia in 1950 with a 3 month old son, and worked for many years on the sewing room floors and her father Angelo worked on the docks where he helped unionise the Italian workforce. Luisa and her brother were latchkey kids, as they looked after themselves in the morning and ran the ‘Continental’ deli in the evenings. Luisa attained a teaching degree, then a postgrad in Social Sciences, and twice studied Italian at The University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. Luisa married Luigino Lana, a Venetian migrant who operated a mechanic business in Brunswick for over 30 years. She devoted her life to being an educator and a mother, teaching Italian to English speakers and English to generations of migrants from around the world. Currently Luisa is translating her father's memoirs from Italian to English, and enjoying being a Nonna.
Anabelle Lacroix is a French-Australian curator, writer and radio contributor. Working independently in Paris, she is based at Fondation Fiminco for a year-long residency focused on the politics of sleeplessness (2020). She has a broad practice, and a current interest in experimental practice, working with performance, sound, discourse and publishing. She is a PhD candidate at UNSW Art & Design.
Geoff Robinson is a Melbourne-based artist working on Wurundjeri country. Robinson creates event-based artworks that utilise the temporal qualities of sound and performance and the spatial conditions of physical sites to unravel the durational layers of place. Robinson has presented projects with Titanik, Turku; Bus Projects, Melbourne; Liquid Architecture, Melbourne; and MoKS, Mooste, Estonia. He was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2014 and completed the PhD project Durational Situation at MADA, Monash University, Melbourne, 2018.
Mattin is a cross disciplinary artist working with noise, improvisation and dissonance. His work Social Dissonance was presented at documenta 14 in 2017 in Kassel and Athens.
Elena Biserna is a scholar and independent curator based in Marseille (France), working at the intersection of social, political and public spheres.
Tobi Maier is the director of Lisbon’s Municipal Galleries, and recently presented Mattin’s Expanding Concert (2019–2023) a four year long concert distributed in time and space through different media: 5 public interventions in 5 different galleries in Lisbon, and 5 texts published within the city.
Clare Milledge is an artist and academic, she lives and works between the lands of the Arakwal people in Bundjalung country (Broken Head, Northern NSW) and the lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal people (Paddington, Sydney). She is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design and is represented by STATION gallery.
Alexander Powers is a choreographer, performer and DJ from Naarm. In 2019 they premiered their first full length choreographic work Time Loop at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, receiving the Temperance Hall Award at the Fringe Awards. Under the moniker Female Wizard, they are known internationally for their forward-thinking DJ sets. They’ve performed at Golden Plains, Dark Mofo, Boiler Room, Hybrid Festival and Soft Centre and held a four year residency at Le Fag.
Zoe Scoglio’s (often collaborative) practice explores the space of art as a site of study and sociality to engage the radical imagination towards alternative ways of being, knowing and relating. Current research takes critical and collective somatic approaches towards response-ability in these times of ecological collapse, within settler colonial conditions. Past projects have taken place within varied contexts, on top of mountains and under full moons, as large collective choreographies and intimate encounters.
Tricky Walsh is a non-binary artist working in New Norfolk, Tasmania, who works both collaboratively and in a solo capacity. Their projects focus on both spatial and communication concerns in an increasingly speculative manner and while they use a diversity of media (architecture, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound, film, comics, radio) it is foremost the concept at hand that determines which form of material experimentation occurs within these broader themes.
Kengné Téguia is a Black Deaf HIV+ cyborg artist, who works from sound deafinitely. #TheBLACKRevolutionwillbeDEAFinitelyLoud
Angela Goh is a dancer and choreographer. Her work poses possibilities for disruption and transformation inside the aesthetics and conditions of technocapitalism, planetarity, and the post-anthropocene. She lives and works in Sydney, and has toured her work across Australia, Europe, the UK, the USA and Asia. She received the 2020 Keir Choreographic Award and the inaugural Sydney Dance Company Beyond the Studio Fellowship 2020-21.
Jannah Quill’s deconstructive exploration of electronic instruments and technologies manifests in electronic music production and experimental audio-visual performance and installation. Jannah modifies existing technologies (such as solar panels) into innovative light-to-audio systems, used with software/hardware experimentation and modular synthesis to carve a distinct voice in electronic music and art.
Tom Smith is an artist, musician, writer and researcher. Narrative 001: The Things We Like was created by Tom Smith, with music by Utility/Austin Benjamin.
His work is concerned with the tyranny and poetics of computational systems, the politics of creative economies, emerging digital subjectivities, planetary futures and music as a mode of critical inquiry. He has worked across speculative fiction, video, curatorial projects, live performance, websites, critical writing and electronic music. Thomas produces music as T.Morimoto, is one half of production duo Utility, and runs independent label Sumactrac with Jarred Beeler (DJ Plead) and Jon Watts.
Thomas’ works have been exhibited and/or performed at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Unsound Festival (Poland), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Fondation Fiminco (Paris), Cashmere Radio (Berlin), Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), Nasjonalmuseet (Oslo), Floating Projects (Hong Kong), Goldsmiths College (London), Firstdraft Gallery (Sydney), Queensland University Art Museum (Brisbane), Alaska Projects (Sydney) and Blindside Gallery (Melbourne). Thomas’ writing has been published in Realtime Magazine, Runway Journal, Un Magazine and Plates Journal.
Pris Roos grew up in Rhenen, the Netherlands. Her family migrated from Bogor, Indonesia, to start their own toko in the Netherlands. Toko is the Indonesian word for shop, and they sell non-Western food (products). Roos grew up in the toko, a space of being together, and full of colours, smells, food, stories and images of immigrants. The toko is a source of inspiration for her artistic practices. Stories that are normally not heard find their way in her works. Roos makes portraits of immigrants that she meets in the toko, on the streets or in her surroundings of the South of Rotterdam. She visits them at home or invites them to her atelier. The stories are translated into painted portraits, videos, installations and spoken word performances.
Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer and arts worker from Mt Druitt. She is the general manager of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Sydney University. Winnie’s work has been published in the HuffPost Australia, The Saturday Paper, Griffith Review, Meanjin Quarterly, SBS Voices and Cordite. She is the editor of several anthologies including Sweatshop Women, The Big Black Thing and Bent Not Broken. Winnie is currently completing her debut novel as the recipient of a 2019 CAL Ignite Grant.
Jon Watts is a Melbourne/Naarm based musician, designer, 3D artist and animator. His music has been released through cult labels SUMAC and Butter Sessions, and he is currently Senior Multimedia Installer at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Pan-Pan Kolektiva was established in March 2020, as a research group on listening. Pan-Pan is a standard emergency call based on the acronym Pan which stands for Pay Attention Now.
Nathan Gray is an artist whose recent works use voice as their medium, taking form as lecture-performances, radio-plays and documentaries, DJ sets, narrative and rumour.
makik markie yammamoroto
Leighton Craig is an artist living in Meanjin/Brisbane. He has been in a number of bands (The Lost Domain, G55, The Deadnotes et al) and is currently a member of the duo Primitive Motion with Sandra Selig.
Anne Zeitz is associate professor at University Rennes 2. Her research focuses on aural attention, the inaudible, the unheard, and the polyphony in contemporary art. She directed the research project 'Sound Unheard' and she co-organised the eponymous exhibition at the Goethe-Institut Paris, Paris and exhibition 'Échos magnétiques” at the MBA Rennes, Rennes in 2019.
Melissa Johnson is Associate Professor of Art History & Visual Culture at Illinois State University (Normal, IL). Her scholarly research focuses on the histories of craft and its intersections with modern and contemporary art. She is currently working on a project that explores artists making work in response to the writings of Virginia Woolf. She’s deeply interested in situating her academic writing and her textile-based work as parallel practices, and is working on two writing and textile projects, “Woolf Words” and “Haptic Investigations,” and a project on mending and repair.
Diego Ramirez makes art, writes about culture, and labours in the arts. In 2018, he showed his video work in a solo screening by ACCA x ACMI and he performed in Lifenessless at West Space x Gertrude Contemporary in 2019. His work has been shown locally and internationally at MARS Gallery, ACMI, Westspace, Torrance Art Museum, Hong-Gah Museum, Careof Milan, Buxton Cotntemporary, WRO Media Art Biennale, Human Resources LA, Art Central HK, Sydney Contemporary, and Deslave. His words feature in Art and Australia, NECSUS, un Projects, Runway Journal, Art Collector, and Australian Book Review. He is represented by MARS Gallery, Editor-at-large at Running Dog and Gallery Manager at SEVENTH.
Noemie Cecilia Huttner-Koros is a queer Jewish performance-maker, writer, dramaturg, poet, teaching artist and community organiser living and working on Whadjuk Noongar country in Boorloo (Perth). Her practice is driven by a deep belief in the social, political and communal role of art and performance and in engaging with sites and histories where queer culture, composting and ecological crisis occur.
Josten Myburgh is a musician based on Whadjuk Noongar boodja country who plays with techniques from the worlds of electro-acoustic music, radio art, free improvisation, field recording and experimental composition. He co-directs exploratory music label Tone List and the Audible Edge festival. He has performed in South Africa, the United States, and throughout South East Asia, Europe and Australia. He is a Schenberg Fellow and a student of Antoine Beuger and Michael Pisaro.
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito is an artist and writer living near Derbarl Yerrigan on Whadjuk Noongar Bibbulmun lands. Their work reflects mostly on personal intersections of disability, queerness and diasporic ancestry in so-called 'australia'. They have recently made text-based contributions to Runway Journal and HERE&NOW20: Perfectly Queer, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
Michael Terren is a musician and educator from Boorloo/Perth. Grounded in experimental studio-based practice, his work explores the social construction of the technologies of music’s creation and distribution. He is a sessional academic teaching music at two Boorloo universities, and in 2019 finished a PhD thesis entitled 'The grain of the digital audio workstation'.
Joee Mejias is a musician and video artist from Manila. She is co-producer of WSK, the first and only international festival of digital arts and new media in the Philippines and co-founder of HERESY, a new platform for women in sound and multimedia. She performs as Joee & I: her avant-pop electronica solo project.
Myriad Sun are an experimental audio/visual/rap trio from Walyalup (Fremantle), Australia, composed of electronic producer Ben Aguero, Mc POW! Negro, and Limit Bashr. Additional performers: Mali Jose, Billy Jack Narkle and Polly-Pearl Greenhalgh.
Jasmine Guffond is an artist and composer working at the interface of social, political, and technical infrastructures. Focused on electronic composition across music and art contexts her practice spans live performance, recording, installation and custom made browser add-ons. Through the sonification of data she addresses the potential of sound to engage with contemporary political questions and engages listening as a situated-knowledge practice.
Sounding Together comprise of the following performers: Rhys Butler (alto saxophone); Simon Charles (soprano saxophone, shakuhachi); Eduardo Cossio (electronics, writing); Luke Cuerel (alto saxophone); Jim Denley (flute, writing); Julia Drouhin (voice, electronics, objects, images); Jameson Feakes (mandolin); Be Gosper (voice, objects); Noemie Huttner-Koros (voice, writing); Lenny Jacobs (percussion); Annette Krebs (amplified string instrument); Annika Moses (voice, images); Josten Myburgh (clarinet, alto saxophone, editing); Dan O’Connor (mastering); Stuart Orchard (guitar, objects, editing); Daisy Sanders (voice, movement).
Yan Jun, a musician based in Beijing uses a wide range of materials such as field recording, body, noise and concept. Yan Jun: “I wish I was a piece of field recording.”
Katie West is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives on Noongar Ballardong boodja and belongs to the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara tablelands in Western Australia. The process and notion of naturally dyeing fabric underpin her practice – the rhythm of walking, gathering, bundling, boiling up water and infusing materials with plant matter. The objects, installations and happenings that Katie creates invite attention to the ways we weave our stories, places, histories, and futures.
Simon Charles is a composer and performer based in Noongar Ballardong Country (Western Australia). His practice reflects an interest in the instability of compositional structures; as friction between musical notation and perception and interactions with place. He has performed at Serralvés Festival (Porto), The Wulf (Los Angeles) Studio Rotor (Berlin), Vigeland Mausoleum (Oslo), Avantwhatever Festival (Melbourne), DATA (Marseille), ANAM Quarttethaus and the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Tiarney Miekus is a writer, editor and musician based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow (Online), Overland, Memo Review, un Magazine, Art Guide Australia, Swampland and RealTime. She is currently editor and podcast producer at Art Guide Australia.
Liang Luscombe is a Naarm/Melbourne-based visual artist whose practice encompasses painting, sculpture and moving image that engage in a process of generative questioning of how media and film affect audiences.
Thembi Soddell is a sound artist best known for their powerful acousmatic performances and installations in darkness. In 2019 they were awarded a PhD from RMIT University for their practice-based research titled, A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound. This research developed a novel approach to understanding lived experiences of anxiety, depression and trauma using a medium (abstract sound) with the unique ability to reflect the intangible nature of the inner world.
James Parker is an academic at Melbourne Law School and long-time associate curator with Liquid Architecture. His work explores the many relations between law, sound and listening. He is currently working on machine listening with Joel Stern and Sean Dockray.
Eloise Sweetman loves art, misses her home in Western Australia, all the time loving Rotterdam where she became friends with Pris Roos whose artwork Sweetman speaks of. Sweetman is a curator, artist, writer and teacher working in intimacy, not knowing and material relation. She started Shimmer with Dutch-Australian artist Jason Hendrik Hansma in 2017.
Cecilia Vicuña's work dwells in the not yet, the future potential of the unformed, where sound, weaving, and language interact to create new meanings.
'In January 1966, I began creating precarios (precarious) installations and basuritas, objects composed of debris, structures that disappear, along with quipus and other weaving metaphors. I called these works 'Arte Precario', creating a new independent category, a non-colonized name for them. The precarios soon evolved into collective rituals and oral performances based on dissonant sound and the shamanic voice. The fluid, multi-dimensional quality of these works allowed them to exist in many media and languages at once. Created in and for the moment, they reflect ancient spiritual technologies—a knowledge of the power of individual and communal intention to heal us and the earth.'
Camila Marambio is a private investigator, amateur dancer, permaculture enthusiast, and sporadic writer, but first and foremost, she is a curator and the founder/director of Ensayos, a nomadic interdisciplinary research program in Tierra del Fuego.
Las Chinas is the cosmic coincidences led to the meeting of Chileans Sarita Gálvez and Camila Marambio in Melbourne. Their shared reverence for the ancestral flautón chino from the Andes Mountains lead to playful explorations of its unique dissonant sounds and thereafter to experimenting with atonal signing and other technologies of the spirit.
Influenced by Chilean feminist poet Cecilia Vicuña, the now deceased poet Fidel Sepúlveda, the musical ensemble La Chimuchina and the chino bands from the townships of La Canela and Andacollo, Las Chinas honours the ancestral tradition by enacting the principle of tearing each other apart.
Bryan Phillips A.K.A. Galambo is a Chilean/Australian artist working in community arts, music and performance, using sound as a means to facilitate engagement with others. His practice has mainly been developed in Chile, but after completing his Masters in Community Cultural Development (VCA-2013) he has become involved in projects with artists from Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia.
Douglas Kahn is an historian and theorist of energies in the arts, sound in the arts and sound studies, and media arts, from the late-nineteenth century to the present. He lives on unceded Dharug and Gundungurra land. His books include Energies in the Arts (MIT Press, 2019); Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013); Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999); Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Arts, edited with Hannah Higgins (University of California Press, 2012); and Source: Music of the Avant-garde, edited with Larry Austin (University of California Press, 2011).
André Dao is a writer, editor, researcher, and artist. His debut novel, Anam, won the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. He is also the co-founder of Behind the Wire, an oral history project documenting people’s experience of immigration detention and a producer of the Walkley-award winning podcast, The Messenger. He is a member of the Manus Recording Project Collective.
Poppy de Souza is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based researcher affiliated with Griffith University and UNSW. Her work focuses on the politics of voice and listening—broadly defined—in conditions of inequality and injustice, including the relationship between sound, race, and conditions of (not) being heard. Poppy has previously worked in community arts and cultural development (CACD), and with the national Film and Sound Archive as a curator on australianscreen.
Andrew Brooks is an artist, writer, and teacher who lives on unceded Wangal land. He is a lecturer in media cultures at UNSW, one half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate, and a member of the Rosa Press Collective. Homework, a book of essays co-written with Astrid Lorange, was recently published by Discipline.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. He was writer for the Kurdish language magazine Werya. He writes regularly for The Guardian and several other publications. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, and author of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. He was held on Manus Island from 2013 until 2019.
Emma Russell is a critical carceral studies scholar and senior lecturer in crime, justice and legal studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She researches and writes on policing and criminalisation, prisons, detention, and activism. Emma is the author of Queer Histories and the Politics of Policing (2020) and co-author of Resisting Carceral Violence: Women’s Imprisonment and the Politics of Abolition (2018).
Dylan Martorell is an artist and musician based in Narrm/Melbourne Victoria. He is a founding member of Slow Art Collective, Snawklor, Hi God People, and Forum of Sensory Motion. He has performed and exhibited internationally, including projects with; Art Dubai, Asian Art Biennale, Tarrawarra Biennale, Jakarta Biennale and Kochi Muzirus Biennale. His work often combines site-specific materiality and music to create temporary sites for improvised community engagement.
Jim Denley is one of Australia's foremost improvisers. Over a career spanning four decades his work has emphasised the use of recording technologies, collaboration, and a concern with site-specificity.
Noah Simblist works as a curator, writer, and artist with a focus on art and politics, specifically the ways in which contemporary artists address history. He has contributed to Art in America, Terremoto, Art Journal and other publications.
He is also an Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jacqui Shelton is an artist and writer born on Barada Barna land, central QLD, and based in Narrm, Melbourne. Her work uses text, performance, film-making and photography to explore the complications of performance and presence, and how voice, language, and image can collaborate or undermine one another. She is especially interested in how emotion and embodied experience can be made public and activated to reveal a complex politics of living-together, and the tensions this makes visible. She has produced exhibitions and performance works in association with institutions including Gertrude Contemporary, the Institute of Modern Art, West Space, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Tarrawarra Museum, and with Channels Festival and Liquid Architecture. Shelton has shown work internationally in Milan at Care-Of, and at NARS Inc in New York City. She teaches photography at Monash University and in the Masters of Media program at RMIT, and holds a PhD from Monash University.
A Hanley is an artist currently living on Wurundjeri Country in Melbourne, Australia. Their practice uses sound and media to explore relations among queer ecologies, attunement, situatedness, and speculative practices. Engaging forms of performance, installation, and collaboration, Hanley's work is interested in audition as an affective practice and the possibilities of sound and technology to support and alter the sonic expressions of humans and non-humans.
Patrick Hase is a digital media artist and researcher, focusing on work that often involves digital interfaces, experimental web design, and collaborative a/v. The entwined practical and theoretical aspects of his work are interested in exploring the embedded cultural and emotional impacts of how people are extended into the virtual via digital processes and designs.
Xen Nhà is a documentary maker and artist with a background in creating intimate dialogues and storytelling across sound, film, and texts. Their work explores the confluence between personal and collective narratives and the cultural politics and responsibility of listening. They are currently living in Melbourne on unceded Wurundjeri Country.
Philip Brophy writes on music, among other things.
Coco Klockner is an artist and writer living in New York City. Recent exhibitions include venues such as The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Alfred, NY; Interstate Projects, Brooklyn; Guadalajara90210, CDMX; The Luminary, St. Louis; Bass & Reiner, San Francisco; Lubov, New York; ONE Archives, Los Angeles; and Egret Egress, Toronto. They are the author of the book K-Y (Genderfail, 2019) and have published writing with Montez Press, Real Life Magazine, Spike Art Magazine, and Burnaway.
Lu Yang (b. Shanghai, China) is a multimedia artist based in Shanghai. Mortality, androgyny, hysteria, existentialism and spiritual neurology feed Lu’s jarring and at times morbid fantasies. Also taking inspiration and resources from Anime, gaming and Sci-fi subcultures, Lu explores his fantasies through mediums including 3D animation, immersive video game installation, holographic, live performances, virtual reality, and computer programming. Lu has collaborated with scientists, psychologists, performers, designers, experimental composers, Pop Music producers, robotics labs, and celebrities throughout his practice.
Lu Yang has held exhibitions at UCCA (Beijing), MWoods (Beijing), Cc Foundation (Shanghai), Spiral (Tokyo), Fukuoka Museum of Asian Art (Fukuoka, Japan), Société (Berlin), MOCA Cleveland (Cleveland, Ohio). He has participated in several international biennials and triennials such as 2021 Asia Society Triennial (New York), 2012 & 2018 Shanghai Biennial, 2018 Athens Biennale, 2016 Liverpool Biennial, 2016 International Digital Art Biennale (Montreal), Chinese Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale, and 2014 Fukuoka Triennial. In 2020, Lu Yang was included in Centre Pompidou’s exhibition Neurons, simulated intelligence in Paris. In 2019, Lu was the winner of the 8th BMW Art Journey and started the Yang Digital Incarnation project.
Dr. Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Internationally Known Private Ear
Serving Industries of Culture Since 2007
Licensed & Bonded: Goldsmiths College, University of London
Civil | Criminal | Human | Marital | Theological | Supernatural
Bureaus: Beirut, Berlin, Dubai, London
Nico Niquo, a.k.a Nico Callaghan, works and lives in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. Since 2015, he has produced and released music under a variety of monikers with the North American label Orange Milk Records and Australian label Daisart. He has performed across Australia, East Asia, and Europe.
Emma Ramsay is active across experimental dance and DIY music; sound performance; and other text collaborations. She works in community media and archives.
Jared Davis is a writer and curator based in London with an interest in independent music, sound culture, and its politics. He is Associate Editor of AQNB and co-host of the editorial platform’s Artist Statement podcast.
James Hazel is a composer/artist/researcher based on the unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. As someone who lived in an underclass (social-housing) community for fourteen years, James employs extended score practices across sound, music, utterance, and (re)performance to interrogate what it means to live, love, and listen under precarity – stemming from both lived/researched experiences of poverty. As an advocate in this area, James has commissioned several artists from low-SES backgrounds through ADSR Zine.
In recent years, James has 'worked' for the dole; various call centres; and, more recently, as a casual academic in musicology at USYD. In 2021, James was selected as one of the ABC Top 5 Researchers (Arts).
Frances Barrett is an artist who lives and works on Kaurna land in Tarntanya/Adelaide. Frances is currently Lecturer in Contemporary Art at University of South Australia.
Allison Gibbs is an artist living and working on Djaara Country/Maldon, Victoria. She is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University Art, Design and Architecture (MADA).
Mouth Making an Orifice has been adapted for OOO/LA from a part of Allison’s doctoral research (Orificing as Method).
Sound Mastering: Casey Rice is an audio doula living and practicing on Djaara Country/Castlemaine, Victoria.
Ander Rennick is a graphic artist based in Melbourne interested in the fetishisation of editorial, pedagogical, pornographic and mimetic commodities.
V Barratt is a trans-media artist, researcher, writer, and performer living on Kaurna Yarta, Adelaide.
Ivan Cheng's recent works are context specific situations, dealing with language and driven by relations with collaborators and hosts. His background as a performer and musician form the basis for using performance as a critical medium. Invested in questions around publics and accessibility, he produces videos, objects, paintings and publications as anchors for the staging of complex and precarious spectacles. His work is presented internationally, and he has initiated project space bologna.cc in Amsterdam since 2017.
Sage J Harlow received a PhD from WAAPA exploring improvised ritual magick using extra-normal vocal technique. She performs under the moniker Sage Pbbbt. Her work is inspired by Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing, Inuit throat singing, extreme metal, sound poetry and an ongoing exploration of extra-normal vocal technique. As well as industrial musick, trance, and drone; insight meditation practice, shamanism and chaos magick; feminist, queer and trans praxis; and Discordianism. As well as a vocalist, Sage plays percussion, bass and theremin. She creates sample-based electronic music and writes text scores that explore the ethics and politics between the players and composer.
Archie Barry is an interdisciplinary visual artist working with a trans politics of quietude. Their practice is autobiographical, somatic, and process-led, and spans performance, video, music production, and writing. Cultivating a genealogy of personas, they produce self-portraiture that brings to question dominant notions of personhood and representation.
Mara Schwerdtfeger is a composer / curator / audio producer based in Eora / Sydney. She plays the viola and collaborates with her laptop to create live performances and recorded pieces for film, dance, and gallery spaces.
Suvani Suri is an artist and researcher based in New Delhi, India. She works with sound, text and intermedia assemblages and has been exploring various modes of transmission such as podcasts, auditory texts, sonic environments, maps, objects, installations, workshops and live interventions. In recent years, her work has been exhibited at Khoj Studios (2014), 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Mumbai Art Room (2018), Sound Reasons Festival VI (2018), Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia (2019), Five Million Incidents (2020). Alongside this, she has been teaching at several universities and educational spaces where her pedagogical interests conflate with a critical inquiry into the digital and sonic sensorium.
Aasma Tulika is an artist based in Delhi. Her practice locates technological infrastructures as sites to unpack how power embeds, affects, and moves narrative making processes. Her work engages with moments that disturb belief systems through assemblages of video, zines, interactive text, writings and sound. Aasma was a fellow at the Home Workspace Program 2019-20, Ashkal Alwan, her work has appeared in Restricted Fixations, Abr_circle, Khoj Art+Science program, HH Art Space. She is a member of the collective -out-of-line-, and collaboratively maintains a home server hosting an internet radio station. She is currently teaching at Ambedkar University Delhi.
Luke Conroy is a Tasmanian multidisciplinary artist currently based in The Netherlands. With a background in sociology and arts education, Luke’s artistic practice engages with socio-cultural topics in meaningful yet playful ways, utilising humour and irony as essential tools for critical reflection and expression. The outcome of his work utilises an ever-evolving multimedia and audio-visual practice which includes photography, digital-art, video, sound, VR, textile, text, and installation.
Julius Killerby is an artist living and working in London. His work focuses on the psychological ripple effects of certain cultural and societal transformations. Part of Julius’ practice also includes portraiture, and in 2017 he was nominated as a finalist in the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Paul Little. His work has been exhibited at VCA Art Space, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and Geelong Gallery.
Daniel Jenatsch makes interdisciplinary works that explore the interstices between affect and information. His work combines hyper-detailed soundscapes, music and video to create multimedia documentaries, installations, radio pieces, and performances. He is the winner of the 2020 John Fries award. His works have been presented in exhibitions and programs at ACCA, UNSW, Arts House, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, the Athens Biennale, NextWave Festival, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Liquid Architecture Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the MousonTurm, Frankfurt.
Shareeka Helaluddin is a sound artist, DJ, producer at FBi Radio and community facilitator working in queer mental health. Creating under the pseudonym akka, her practice is concerned with drone, dissonance, memory, ritual, generative somatics and a pursuit of deeper listening. She is currently creating on unceded Gadigal and Wangal lands.
Austin Benjamin, known for his stage name Utility, is a Sydney-based music producer, artist & founder of the label Trackwork. He’s released projects through Room 40, Sumac, HellosQuare, and produced music for releases on labels including Universal NZ, AVTV, Warner & 66 Records. In 2019 Utility & close collaborator T. Morimoto released Nexus Destiny featuring a collection of 60 arpeggios made entirely with software synthesisers, released on Melbourne-based label Sumac.
Earlier this year Utility performed alongside T Breezy, Walkerboy, Sevy & Bayang at Sydney Opera House’s Barrbuwari event. Austin has previously composed and performed new works for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and University of Queensland Art Museum with T. Morimoto, and MONA FOMA Tasmania with turntablist Martin Ng and has exhibited audio-visual gallery works including ‘Strategic Innovation’ with Coen Young at Kronenberg Wright, Sydney.
Uzma Falak is a DAAD doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Heidelberg where her work focuses on the intersection of sound, time and violence. Her poetry, essays, and reportage have appeared in publications like Guernica, The Baffler, Adi Magazine, Al Jazeera English, Warscapes, The Caravan and several edited volumes and anthologies. She won an honourable mention in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology’s Ethnographic Poetry Award (2017). Her film, Till Then The Roads Carry Her, exploring Kashmir women’s repertories of resistance, has been screened at the Art Gallery of Guelph (Guelph), University of Copenhagen, University of Warsaw, Karlstorkino (Heidelberg), Tate Modern, and others.
Laura McLean is a curator, writer, and researcher based in Naarm Melbourne. She is an Associate Curator at Liquid Architecture, member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), and is currently undertaking a PhD in Curatorial Practice at MADA, Monash University. Past curatorial projects include CIVICS, Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery, Melbourne (2020); Startup States, Sarai-CSDS, Delhi (2019); and Contingent Movements Archive, Maldives Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (2013). Her writing is included in edited books published by Arena, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and the MIT Press, among others, and has been published by journals including Eyeline, Realtime, HKW Technosphere Magazine, and ArtAsiaPacific.
Mehak Sawhney is a scholar, curator, and activist with research interests in sound and media cultures of South Asia. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication Studies at McGill University. Funded by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, her doctoral project explores audio and targeted state surveillance in postcolonial India. She has also been associated with Sarai-CSDS in Delhi since 2017. Previously, her ethnographic work has studied urban sound and listening cultures as well as the politics of machine listening and voice interfaces in contemporary India. Her academic and public writing has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Amodern, and The Wire, among others.
Joy Zhou is a China born emerging artist and design practitioner based in Naarm/Melbourne. Informed by their background in Interior Design, Joy’s practice entails gestures of queering which unfold encounters and events that draw relationships between people, places, and spaces.
Claire G Coleman is a Noongar writer, born in Western Australia, and now based in Naarm. Her family have been from the area around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun on the south coast of WA since before time started being recorded. Claire wrote her black&write! Fellowship-winning book Terra Nullius while travelling around Australia in a caravan. The Old Lie (2019) was her second novel and in 2021 her acclaimed non-fiction book, Lies, Damned Lies was published by Ultimo Press. Enclave is her third novel. Since mid 2020 Claire has also been a member of the cultural advisory committee for Agency, a Not-for-profit Indigenous arts Consultancy.
Jolyon Jones is a Berlin-based student of fine arts at the University of Arts Berlin. He works primarily between sculpture, drawing, print media and sound. With an interest in practices of labour, Jolyon draws upon his background in anthropology exploring embedded concepts through research and architecture and the latent possibilities of everyday materials such as concrete, graphite, and silicone to access speculative narratives and the construction of mementos.
Martina Becherucci graduated in Cultural Heritage at the University of Milan and is currently completing her studies with a Master degree in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Martina loves being in contact with visitors in museums and galleries, during temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
Damiano Bertoli was an artist and writer who worked across drawing, theatre, video, prints, installation and sculpture.
With works of great humour and intelligence, Bertoli was best known for his ongoing series Continuous Moment, which sprawled a range of mediums across multiple works, ultimately circulating on time itself. His practice gravitated toward aesthetic and cultural moments, particularly related to his birth year of 1969.
Penelope Cain is interested in landscape in its widest definition, from the extracted, transformed and occupied landscapes of the Anthropocene, to the emergent Post-Carbon.
Her art practice is located interstitially between scientific knowledge and unearthing connected and untold narratives in the world. She works across media and knowledge streams, with scientists, datasets, people, stories, and land, to connect yet to be heard storytellings from the present and near future. She was awarded the Fauvette Loureiro Travelling Scholarship, Glenfiddich Contemporary Art Residency and is currently undertaking a one year S+T+ARTS residency in the Hague, for Rewild, Maxxi, Rome.
Jason De Santolo (Garrwa and Barunggam) is a researcher & creative producer based in the School of Design, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. He has worked with his own communities as an activist and advocate using film and performance, protest and education to bring attention to injustices and design solutions using Indigenous knowledge.
Kynan Tan is an artist interested in the relations and conditions of computational systems, with a focus on data, algorithm, networks, materiality, control, and affect. These areas are explored using computer-generated artworks that take the form of simulations, video, sound, 3d prints, text, code, and generative algorithms.
Snack Syndicate, two rats (Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange) living on unceded Wangal land; texts, objects, events, meals, and publics.
Spence Messih is an artist living and working on Gadigal land. Their practice speaks broadly to sites of pressure, power structures, materiality, and language, and more specifically about these things in relation to their own trans experience.
Tina Stefanou born of Sophia and Yorgios Stefanou is a first/second generation Greek-Australian. Emerging from an East Melbourne hospital on 21 November 1986. She is thirty-four years old. Now based on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people in Wattle Glen, Victoria. With a background as a vocalist, she works undisciplined, with and across a diverse range of mediums, practices, approaches, and labours: an embodied practice that she calls, 'voice in the expanded field'.
Tom Melick is the co-editor of Slug and part of the Rosa Press Collective and Stolon Press.
Trisha Low is a writer living in the East Bay. She is the author of The Compleat Purge (Kenning Editions, 2013) and Socialist Realism (Emily Books/Coffee House Press, 2019).
The following conversation with Nico Niquo (aka Nico Callaghan) took place in Flagstaff Gardens in the late afternoon. The back end of the park had become increasingly dotted by the small running figures of off-leash designer dogs. We watched those fluffy ones, snowy and cloud-like, with faces hidden inside the lustre of their fur. The city light in those transitional hours from day to night was lovely. After our talk, I imagined myself sitting there, listening to my favourite album of Nico’s, In A Silent Way.
In 2015, I moved to The Netherlands to study. I didn’t know anyone, but I met a now close friend who was hosting album listening sessions in an atrium filled with expensive gear. European arts funding directed into speakers of a quality I had never heard before. I was surprised to find out that the album of the month was by Nico Niquo, In A Silent Way. About fifteen of us sat for its duration and concentrated on the music and the listening. I’d only indirectly brushed shoulders with Nico when in Melbourne, and the surprise to have the music of someone from home (relatively under-appreciated in Australia) platformed overseas in such a dedicated way, was quite incredible. Strangers in the room began to explain their feelings: felicity; sorrow; calls toward space and the use of silence; the swells; gliding eski reinvented as static chords; this music textured by frangible ringing surfaces waiting to break into composed moments irrepressible and overwhelming. I don’t want to exaggerate but people looked around wet-eyed. But the question for this music remains: from where does it grow, and for who is it made?
It’s quite easy to hear an album as placeless, Timeless, occurring as if it were formed from that space inside the musician and bristling around inside their body taking form, taking inner life and sublimating it into the digital audio workspace, into objects on the screen which can be clicked by a mouse and then shared. But hark back to the child Nico turned composer, growing up in Eltham, taking the long train to the city and making music on the computer on his lap. Before the moniker Nico Niquo gained fame, Nico was involved in the vaporwave scene, and then the first years of an emerging aesthetic spread by cult labels like Orange Milk. He was a key, early, and unknown Australian name experimenting with that broadly labeled movement ‘post-internet art’. He wrote reviews for the no longer extant music and film webzine, Tiny Mix Tapes. His first album, Epitaph, front-covered by Keith Rankin’s now iconic artwork — a vase looking out over the sea — explored the famous nostalgia of this movement’s fascination with broken neoliberalism. Here: burgeoning space between sounds; deconstruction; lounge jazz atop vocaloid; exceptional referential drum programming and arpeggiators; bird sounds; unreal waterfalls trickling over early-internet refuse.
Seeing Nico by the sea, or in the bush — imagining Nico amongst those trees and real birds, headphones on, microphone out — I began to think about the confluence of hyperreal ‘fake nature’, the ‘lost nature’ of his early music and the calm and careful environmentalist he strikes me as today. I thought of the exceptional beauty of Eltham and the care I noticed when first visiting his home.
When I finally met Nico, he was the author of a book about the hazards and joys of ambient music, Snakes in the Grass. He was the composer of an increasingly measured sound. Music which is a grimoire to stillness, work that can make you feel both remote and motionless, and its companioned reverse: helium-ballooned, rising, incredible loveliness, dear and held. Those who know Nico personally can attest to a musical language hard-thought-through and practiced. His technical skill and a deep knowledge of experimental music have become almost unerringly calcified in his work to date, stemming from an upbringing as a trained percussionist, pianist, and composer. But his mature music retains earlier fascinations. If it sounds placeless, perhaps it is because it comes from the observation of the interaction between world and sound. That is, there is no transparent ‘one’ world outside the sound, only the interpretation of a world. What Nico references and builds his music upon, in my opinion, is still those first crystallised allurements heard in the album, Epitaph. This is music concerned with the mediation our dominant hegemony forces atop the processes of listening and making music. When in later work we hear a lone saxophone, seemingly unbridled from any form of co-option, the undercurrent of the track remains animated by the digital, and thus in conversation with the performer’s recorded breath. And when there is no digital, just hands on instrument, the articulated clarity (so very clear) of this sparse and open music occurs in direct and frightening contrast to Nico’s other work — as if in the absence of any arbitration this ‘pure music’ still comments on its reverse. To put it another way: as listeners to Nico, we are two representational steps removed from the world. Unlike listening to the voice of the musician who seeks to convey a feeling within them, or a feeling inspired by the world itself, in Nico’s work we often listen to a feeling of a feeling of the world. In between this juncture is the internet, labour conditions, a question of post-digital expression. At the level of the mediating force of language and at the level of the concerning ramifications of emerging technology, the coruscating elegance and force of his work is its ability to make comment on this chain of artefact from world to representation, and back to world once more. From birdsong, to hyperreal chirp, to birdsong again.
In our conversation, this metonymic chain of reference became the difficulty and conflict between idea and practice. Where is the world outside the sound I wondered? In Nico’s answer: arbitrated to an unshaped abeyance by platform capitalism. Since following Nico’s work, I’ve been continually impressed by an unacknowledged demonstration of Nico’s politics. His choice of performance venue, institution, and event, is thoroughly considered, a trail of money investigated, to the extent that the corporate financing of a show might render a resignation from its stage, or the entire donation of his artist fee to a worthy cause. In conversation, I was surprised when Nico fought back against a description of his own musicianship, as if such a thing occurred in a vacuum. Rather, he described himself as a worker, performing labour. The political instantiation of this definition is important to note. I wanted to interview Nico the thinker and the worker. In Snakes in the Grass, Nico writes toward the possibility of understanding what an anti-capitalist ambient music might sound like. This very question is a cornerstone of the conversation that follows.
A mainstay trope of the ambient track is the creation of an ‘environment’ or ‘vibe’, which sees the track attempt to bring the listener into a realm that is simultaneously detached from, and working to heighten the emotional and physical space the listener finds themselves within. This moment of entering an ‘ambient’ environment classically includes sounds like the voices of birds, water, river worn pebbles, the sound of leaves, footsteps, the wind in autumn, etc. When using referents like these today, how, if at all, does platform technology mediate their sounding?Nico Niquo
I think it’s an interesting question, and I think there are a few ways you can look at it. To me it’s fair to argue that those sounds — bird song, water trickling, leaves — are things that must truly resonate with many people on a fundamental level, related to us as biological organisms as part of ecosystems.
I often use those sounds in my own practice, and like many others, I heavily transform them using samplers and synthesizers, or arrange them in combination with less identifiable sound sources. It’s not an uncommon practice — there’s a lot of music out there that taps into the sounds of ‘nature’, ‘space’ and the idealised ‘other’. I don’t really want to do that – I’m not trying to render ecological idealism through music. Instead, I’m trying to paint the bizarreness of the world from my own vantage point, and that vantage point is via an intensely mediated experience of ecology.
I’m no evolutionary biologist, but I’d wager that even those people who grew up in the centres of extreme urbanism — places like Kowloon, for example — probably still have an innate connection to sounds that are intimately tied to what we consider the ‘natural world’. It is these sounds that are important to me and what I reach for first when I compose music. Those sounds you mentioned — water, leaves, and wind — I find intriguing that if we really listen and ponder, we are able to tell a lot about the space in which those things happen by the character of the sound. If the sound of lapping water is soft and inconsistent, it’s likely a freshwater source, and there’s a certain kind of comfort that instills in us when we focus on the sound. By contrast, a harsher, constant breaking swell sound communicates salt water and the ocean to us, and there are certain connotations that we can become aware of if we choose to focus and listen.
The degree to which these sounds and notions are present in the final product of my work changes from project to project, and some are certainly more overt than others, but it is there in some way. For instance, I have a forthcoming track titled, ‘Description of Snow’ that’s built from the ground up by repeatedly auto-tuning and resampling a recording of snow I took a few years ago.
However, I think that technology as a mediating influence changes how we interact with and deploy those sounds as behaviours. To be straightforward, I think in many instances birdsong no longer represents ‘a bird’ to people, but perhaps represents the behaviour of ethical consumption — even if this is not necessarily tied to material reality. I think it is platform technology that mediates this, because I think to many people, birdsong within the confines of platform technology is more real than birdsong outside of it. The only difference is that birdsong in platform technology is not organic, it is a digital representation of birdsong made only for humans.
Can you speak more to the specifics of this act of mediation? And perhaps to the act of intervening upon a found sound through a digital method? When we are talking about ecosystems, when we are talking about the toll of representation (that watching videos of birds on YouTube produces an energy-penance directly leading to the tragedy of their disappearance), when we are talking about the platform’s ceaseless generation of content — I see your music in as offering a reflective response to the relationship between art and world. Talk us through composed mediation within the digital audio workstation (DAW).NN
Communication is increasingly manufacturer-designated. Broadly speaking, when applied to music composition, the techniques and technologies for creating and organising sound have become ubiquitous, transferable, compatible, and suitable to a relatively formless digital culture.
One might imagine that by being agile and deft we might use this technology to liberate ourselves. But of course, what happens is an intense, dehumanising form of mediation: there is a profound patterning of our expression and interaction. I think I’m increasingly intrigued by the gaps in that patterning, where the chimeric assemblages of culture don’t quite make algorithmic sense, or where the algorithms seem to feed me something beautifully aberrant. That is where I try to focus my energy, when I’m not just trying to live in the real world.
As you point out, I’m quite drawn to sonic arrangements that prioritize silence and space, occasionally punctuated by dissonant or non-sequential sounds. But that’s our experience of the world now, right? The experience of non-sequentially watching ten, twenty, one hundred videos that run for one, two, or ten seconds, while half-experiencing a cacophony of sensations and sounds from the real world. For instance, I don’t think I’m making music appropriate for Tik Tok, but rather music about my own experience of witnessing the abuse of that kind of technology, and the kind of mediated experience that technology permits.
So within the DAW, that dreary, prescriptive grid with near-infinite possibilities of constructing and deconstructing sound, I in fact often find myself bored or disinterested with the things it conjures. I like to come up with melodies, arpeggios, or chord progressions at the piano, and then find a piece of pre-existing sound online that can be co-opted into a kind of bent form of it, and go from there. The breath of a saxophone, autotuned; the reverb trail of glass smashing, deployed as a loop off in the background; a cat’s chatter at birds by the window, pitched-down three octaves as a vehicle toward dramatic swell between sections — those kinds of things. In many instances, it’s unnoticeable, but I like to think that the method preserves the approach. Those feelings of carefulness and intricate detail that you point to, perhaps are a consequence of actually shovelling too much content into a single frame, so much so that individual sounds lose their context. I then begin a process of taking elements away one by one so that the music reveals to me what that context should be. Sometimes I think I land it, sometimes not.
I’m interested in the sense that a signifier might be ‘more real’ within a technology than outside of it? Is birdsong on a digital track a museum to a lost or dying world? Why might we want to ‘consume’ such a thing?NN
I don’t know if I’d say that the birdsong on a digital track is a museum piece. I would say that it is something reanimated or un-dead that haunts us from that same dying world. I think that such signifiers are important things to grapple with. When digital technology mediates our understanding of the world around us to such a previously unimaginable level, the notions of the real and the true are strange to consider. But I’d argue that the psychosis of liberalism, primarily dictated through digital technology, excels at mediating the realities and the truths it brings into being.
We know the birdsong isn’t real. But if you bring that up, does that spoil the fun? Or was the fun — the pleasure — found in the sound of the birdsong in the first place? Or was the act of consuming itself the pleasure? Which one is the truth? Does it matter, when the coercion is strong and we desire relief from the psychosis? I think it does matter, because the birds are leaving, or dying, and we can’t hear them anymore. It’s only the human-specific representations of them that haunt us.EF
To hone in on this sense that there is a ‘pleasure’ sought in organised sound, I’d like to ask you about another associated term: ‘enjoyment’. Without giving the term ‘enjoyment’ a strictly psychoanalytic reading, there is the growing sense that an algorithm (specifically, the algorithm that operates behind an app like Spotify) does the ‘enjoying’ for us.1 By this, I mean that the pleasure is premeditated. The pleasure is an intervention. The content which we are to enjoy is not just chosen before we finish the flick of a scroll, or chosen before the track ticks on via the Spotify playlist, instead, the content is very actually indulged in first and foremost by the inhuman thing that does the choosing. There is a certain fantasy involved in being able to pick out a beautiful album of one’s own volition. To have the agency to select an album or song in an effort to satisfy some kind of internal feeling, is to inscribe that song as an object of hope — a hope that the song will fulfill the desire of the listener, that the song will in some way satisfy its listener’s wish. This kind of fantasy (in my opinion something foundational to an original kind of musical experience) relies on lack. The fantasy relies on something which is missing. I’m missing a vibe; I search for an object to satisfy that vibe, I fantasise about filling that gap.
Now contrast this formulation with Spotify: I’m lacking but I don’t need to imagine, fantasise, and desire a way to fill that lack. Instead, the app does it for me. I open the app and I’m greeted with ‘chill beats to study to’, nice. I didn’t know that I ‘wasn’t chill’ to begin with, but now, upon hitting play, I know that when I listen to this song, I will for sure ‘be chill’. The app has taken the enjoyment caught within a fantasy and deferred it, co-opted its structure.
Samo Tomšič, The Labour of Enjoyment: Towards a Critique of Libidinal Economy (Berlin: August Verlag, Lacanian Explorations IV, 2019). ↩
I agree. I should point out that I’m not opposed to ‘the technology’ as such, I’m not a Luddite; I’m not trad. I think that there isn’t a way of turning back to some imagined notion of music culture and exchange of the past; the cat’s out of the bag, the toothpaste is out of the tube. I’m no optimist. For instance, I don’t envisage the current music marketplace drifting in a direction that is more economically equitable anytime soon. At least not while the major record companies and publishers — Universal, Sony, Warner, and all the subsidiaries they own and functionally operate — have an unofficial managing stake with Spotify and their ilk.
But people do seem to care about this, and not just musicians. The notion that those who produce recorded music deserves substantive remuneration has entered the broad liberal consensus, but, to me, that’s just more notions and threads of ethical consumption. Some of the pushes that people have instigated, be it basing musical marketplaces around decentralised methods, blockchain technology, or other means, seem to have some good intentions, like Audius, or Mycelia, for example. But dreaming of alternative music marketplaces as ‘communities’ strictly within these technologies seems to miss the mark to me. The major record companies and streaming platforms have ensured a system that raises the barrier of entry for competitors to a staggering and potentially insurmountable level. I think there’s scope for aesthetic experimentation, like the conjurings of Mat Dryhurst and Holly Herndon, and though it can be intriguing at first, I feel we are left to wait and wonder where the never-realised opportunity (ruse) ends and the potential begins.
I imagine my impressions are different to many other people who make music, because I don’t try to make a living from music: I’m a worker, doing other work. It doesn’t mean that we can’t ponder the nature of these things, and imagine alternatives, though. I have found great solace in the act of making music in trying to free myself from the artificial constraints of an outcome-based music marketplace.
But in many cases, even if a listener sometimes has a genuine and passionate relationship with the music they choose to listen to, it is still confined to both the mediation and the materiality of that system, its vehicles, and the multitude of supply chains (and exploitations) that manifest it digitally and sonically. The premeditation that surrounds us on these platforms bothers me deeply. I think that for the most part, what we are experiencing when we listen to a playlist is a ‘fantasy’ packaged like any other mass-market consumer product. Because the music in that context is an immaterial product, it is almost infinitely reshapeable, and constantly shifts with human and algorithmic revision.
I like that you use the word ‘fantasy’ because I think so much of how we experience music within the digital domain is about manufacturing a need to manifest desire with the mundane. Jacques Attali wrote about ‘ritual’ in his book Noise, and I ascribe to an understanding of making and listening to the music as being innately tied to ritual and sacrifice. But these platforms have deemed we, as a consumer base, must have access to any piece of music in a premeditated, sanitised, and limitless encounter. I think this particular iteration of modern algorithmic streaming technology — Spotify, etc. — has made us more notably bereft of a spiritual or ritualistic engagement with music.EF
Can I give Attali’s term sacrifice another description? The freedom not to listen. In the act of not choosing, yet nevertheless still finding a song profound and moving, as if it were gifted to you by the playlist, there seems to be something important going on. I’d like to ask you what role ‘chance’ plays in the enjoyment of a piece of music?NN
A while back, I was driving home from work and scanning the FM band of my car radio. A low-band station — one of the ones book-ended by Christian, Hindi and Esperanto stations — was playing that big Pnau remix medley by Elton John, but I think the file they were playing back was corrupted, or the playback system was malfunctioning. It was just stuck on a half second of his vocal, with some bass smudged in underneath. It sounded so curious, kind of marvellous; a happenstance that I wouldn’t have considered or imagined.
To me, that’s a chance musical experience. But a lot of what is deemed ‘chance’ within writing music seems to me to be rather uninteresting and arbitrary, more akin to indecision, particularly within the loftier fields of academic composition. When chance appears to flourish proactively, it feels empowering and novel. In saying this, I think chance, real chance, is quite different to, say, improvisation.
Within my own practice, I use a digital sampler and take music I’ve made and load it in with the instrument’s parameters set to degrees that would usually be seen as ‘incorrect’ for using it as intended, and play back the sound to see what happens. I like to combine this method with Audio-to-MIDI software and recompose things. In a sense, it’s reverse-engineering the composition process. When something emerges, often it’s not what I see as ideal, but occasionally there’s material that can be reworked with other processes, so it’s a quite involved use of chance as method. I like to think that I’m engaging with the machine to create something that neither the computer or I could create individually, and I find myself increasingly drawn to this way of working.
I’m interested in the particular sense that a track of ambient music should feel unending, that the specific feeling of being held by the music, held by its environment, is in some way underpinned by a hope that the track will never finish?NN
I think either finishing at a distinct point or playing infinitely, even theoretically, shouldn’t be telegraphed to the listener. I think some of my favourite moments within ambient music are coincidental things that transcend what we’ve come to expect from the mediated experience. In Brian Leeds’ (under the pseudonym Huerco S.) 2016 album, For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), many of the tracks are indebted to ambient music in some way, but are jumpy, scratchy things that notably end at seemingly abrupt moments. I’ve heard people suggest that this is due to mastering errors, file errors, pranks, and so on — all manner of things aside from personal choice. It’s mysterious in some way that can’t be immediately understood or quantified, but I don’t feel that it has been mystified unnecessarily.EF
Since I’ve known you, a foundational concern of yours has been the worry that certain forms of music, over others, are more ‘vulnerable to [capitalist] co-option’.1 Do you still feel that way, and if so, what kind of music, and practice feels vulnerable at present?
Nico Callaghan, Snakes in the Grass, (Melbourne: Daisart, 2018) 76. ↩
Looking back, I see that the fear of co-option was a key concern of mine when I began the work that became what you are quoting. I was struggling to identify the intrusion of modern financialisation into music: the large-scale acquisitions of music rights by investment funds; the purchase of Boiler Room after receiving state handouts; and so on. I think this degree of financialisation is something quite different to ‘capitalist co-option’; as Kyle Devine writes, it turns the music industry into an unseeable but damaging resource extraction industry.
I think reckoning with those notions is less of a concern to me now, because I don’t see music as being the most productive pathway towards either embodying or performing what I see as being necessary to enact functional change. I think as a galvanising force, or a cultural touchstone, music is incredibly useful. But it doesn’t hold the same allure of possibility that it did to me before. And also, I’m relatively offline, so perhaps I’m not the model instigator of radical change in this vein.
I think music does something different, something that shouldn’t be compared to an organising principle or a pathway to change. And that something is special. It continues to be altered by technology and investment that has no interest in the music being anything other than a commodity. I think it has well and truly been co-opted within the majority of spaces, but perhaps this needn’t be looked at too cynically. I think there is a unique opportunity to see the truths that have been revealed in what music is, where it comes from, and where it could go.
Gary Tomlinson wrote this incredible book, A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity.1 He posits music as being intimately linked to technology, and the Heideggerian notion of tools and techne. I think that through music’s ubiquity and its continued supreme relevance, we can see how change and disruption affects things that are tied to our individual and collective consciousness. Consequently, capitalist co-option is baked into the Western music industry. When we interrogate what these new technologies do alongside the language that is used to describe and sell them to us, as well as the mediating effects that they prescribe, I think we are given a specific, contained frame to examine what is happening more broadly in the societies within which we exist. To me, the music that is most vulnerable to co-option is less tied to a particular scene or to aesthetic signifiers. Whether it’s Mat Dryhurst making an NFT or Kings of Leon making an NFT, it’s still an NFT. It’s not a tool if someone else can’t use it independently of a financial transaction. I hope one day I can learn to make things that other people can use freely, too.
Gary Tomlinson, A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity (Princeton: Zone Books, 2015). ↩
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.
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.