The Sound Of Memory

Sound-track / Sound-scape

  • Spectogram Waveform, Aki, The Sound of Memory, Whitechapel Gallery

Past Event

This event was on Sun 23 Apr 2017, 11.30–6pm

How does the resonances of individual and cultural memory contribute to the shaping of social space?

The Sound of Memory symposium brings together filmmakers, artists and composers to explore the broad domain of acoustic ecologies and soundscape’s engagement in place. Concerns for working with the sounds of the environment – and engaging in how they impact on us and we on it – sprung out of the World Soundscape Project, inaugurated at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in the early 1970s. The ethnographic turn in contemporary art has prompted a renewed engagement with place.

This symposium explores the aesthetic, philosophical and political approaches of composers working in acoustic ecologies and artists working within social ecologies where the primary engagement is a form of sonic ethnography.

Participants include Gareth Evans, Sarah Turner, Aki Pasoulas, John Drever, Hildegard Westerkamp, Matt Parker, Sarah TurnerJessie BrennanWilliam Locryn Finch, Esther Johnson, Tim Meacham and Francesco Bergamo.

Organised by The Sound-Image-Space Research Centre, School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent and the Unit for Sound Practice Research (SPR; Goldsmiths, University of London). We are partnered by The School of Sound International Symposium, 19-22 April 2017


11.00-11.30 Registration

11.30 -11.40  Welcome by Gareth Evans, Sarah Turner, Aki Pasoulas and John Drever

Session One: Resistance, community, environment

11.40 – 12.30  Hildegard Westerkamp (Keynote)
Hildegard will reflect on her life-long activism and how that has been informed by acoustic ecology’s approach to deep listening: environmentally, culturally and socially.

12.30 – 1  Matt Parker
The Fields of Athenry: Media Infrastructure and the Economy of Noise

13.00 -14.00  Lunch Break

Session Two: Space as a simultaneity of stories: Individual and cultural memory – Speech that matters

14.00– 14.40  Sarah Turner (Keynote)
 Sarah Turner will present extracts from her Grierson nominated film, Public House, 96 mins, 2016, and explore ideas of the polyphonic voice in relation to documentary form

14.40 – 15.05 Jessie Brennan
Indexicality as Resistance: Voices, Cyanotypes and Writings from The Green Backyard

15.05 – 15.30  – William Locryn Finch
Secondary narratives from a stay at The Arena Hotel

15.30 – 16 – Break

Session Three: Construction / Reconstruction and Sonic Representation

16.00 – 16. 30  Esther Johnson: Asunder

16.30 – 17.00  Tim Meacham: It was Dust

17.00 – 17.30  Francesco Bergamo: Representing (though) Sound

About the Organisers

Sarah Turner (University of Kent, UK) is an artist, filmmaker, writer, curator and academic. Her feature films include Ecology, 97mins, 2007, Perestroika, 118mins, 2009, (which featured in Tate Britain’s major survey: Assembly), and Perestroika:Reconstructed, conceived and executed as a gallery work (Carroll Fletcher Gallery, London, May 2013).  Her latest feature, Public House, 96 mins, premiered in the Documentary competition, LFF 2015, nominated for the Grierson Award. Public House was re-mastered in 2016 for wider audiences. Her feature films Ecology, Perestroika and Public House are broadly linked through a trilogy of concerns that explore ideas of ecologies: psychic, environmental and social. Sarah is currently Reader in Fine Art and Director of Research in the School of Music and Fine Art. University of Kent, UK

Aki Pasoulas (University of Kent, UK) is an electroacoustic composer, Lecturer, Director of Education and the Director of MAAST (Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre) at the University of Kent. He also taught at universities in London including City, Middlesex, and the University of the Arts, and he holds a PhD on timescale perception in electroacoustic music.  His research interests include acousmatic music, time perception in relation to music, psychoacoustics and sound perception, spatial sound, acoustic communication, and soundscape ecology especially in relation to listening psychology. He has written for instruments, found objects, voice, recorded and electronic sound, composed music for the theatre and for short animation films, and organised and performed with many ensembles. His scholarly and music works have been published through EMI/KPM, ICMA, CUP and OUP. Aki received honourable mentions at international competitions, and his music was selected and performed at key events worldwide.

John Levack Drever is Professor of Acoustic Ecology and Sound Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he leads the Unit for Sound Practice Research (SPR). John is the chair of the Sonic Arts Network and co-founder and chair of the UK and Ireland Soundscape Community (an affiliate of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology) for whom he chaired Sound Practice: the 1st UKISC Conference on sound, culture and environments in 2001 at Dartington and Sound Practice 2006 at Goldsmiths. With Aki Pasoulas he co-chaired The Symposium on Acoustic Ecology at the University of Kent in 2013 and in 2011 he co-chaired the Phonography Colloquium at Goldsmiths with Emmanuel Spinelli for SPR. In May 2014 he co-directed, Sound Art Curating Conference: Histories, Theories and Practices of Sound Art, at Goldsmiths, and The Courtauld Institute of Art in collaboration with Operational and Curatorial Research in Contemporary Art, Design, Science and Technology (OCR). He has also been actively involved in the Noise Futures Network (EPSRC) and COST Action TD0804 Soundscapes of European Cities and Landscapes.

Holly Rogers is Senior Lecturer in Music at Goldsmiths, University of London. Before this she was founding director of the Research Centre for Audio-Visual Media at the University of Liverpool, where she lectured on audiovisual culture. Her primary interest lies in the relationship between sound and image in experimental film, video art and music video. Holly is the author Visualising Music: Audio-Visual Relationships in Avant-Garde Film and Video Art (Verlag, 2010) and Sounding the Gallery: Video and the Rise of Art-Music (Oxford University Press, 2013). She has also edited three books on audiovisual media: Music and Sound in Documentary Film (Routledge, 2014), The Music and Sound of Experimental Film (with Jeremy Barham: Oxford University Press, 2017) and Transmedia Directors: Sound, Image and the Digital Swirl Music (with Carol Vernallis and Lisa Perrott: forthcoming). She is a founding editor for the Bloomsbury book series New Approaches to Sound, Music and Media.

About the Contributors

Francesco Bergamo (Italy, 1976) received his Ph.D. in Design Sciences at the Università Iuav di Venezia with a thesis about the aesthetics and ecology of Human-Computer Interaction; he previously graduated in Architecture with a thesis on James Turrell’s Irish Sky Garden. His interests and publications focus on the science of representation, sound ecology, contemporary arts and music, and the interplay between visual and audio culture. Francesco is a lecturer at the Università Iuav di Venezia, where he also works as a research fellow.

Jessie Brennan is a London-based artist whose practice explores the inter-relations between people and places, informed by their social and political contexts and a direct engagement with the individuals who occupy them. Jessie’s practice is research-led and situated, taking the form of drawing, photography, installation, performance, film, writing and publications. Jessie has exhibited extensively and her work is held in public and private collections including the V&A, London, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Esther Johnson works at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary. Her poetic portraits focus on marginal worlds, revealing resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Work has been exhibited internationally in 40 countries, and has also featured on television and radio. In 2012 Johnson won the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Performing and Visual Arts for young scholars. She is a Professor of Film and Media Arts at Sheffield Hallam University.

William Locryn Finch is a doctoral student at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Dr Guido Heldt. His PhD thesis is centred on an exploration of music in the BBC arts documentary series Arena – on the means by which Arena constructs ideas about music, and on the uses the series itself makes of music. He has studied at Royal Holloway and the University of Cambridge where he completed a dissertation on jazz in the French New Wave.

Tim Meacham is an artist who works across media to explore space within the triangulated world of experience between seeing, hearing and touching. He is a Lecturer in Fine Art in the School of Music and Fine Art. University of Kent, UK

Matt Parker is an audiovisual composer and sound artist working with and producing archives that amplify hidden connections between every-day technology and the environment. His work is influenced by the sonosphere, unsound, ecology, the economy of noise, infrastructure studies and the Internet. Matt was shortlisted for the Aesthetica International Art Prize 2015 and artist in residence at Bletchley Park in 2015. He is the co-director of media infrastructural investigative collective The People’s Cloud and is a doctoral student at Creative Research into Sound Art Practice (CRiSAP), London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.

Hildegard Westerkamp is a leading composer, sound artist and acoustic ecologist. Hildegard was born in Germany in 1946 and emigrated to Canada in 1968. Her daughter, Sonja Ruebsaat was born in 1977.  After completing her music studies in the early seventies Hildegard joined the World Soundscape Project under the direction of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Excerpts of Hildegard’s compositions have been included in the soundtrack of Gus van Sant’s Elephant and Last Days, and more recently she has collaborated with filmmaker Nettie Wild on Koneline – Our Land Beautiful.

Related Events

This day of presentations is preceded by a Concert featuring Hildegard Westerkamp in Goldsmiths Great Hall on Sat 22 April, 19.45. Films, installations and papers run through to Monday 24 April at Goldsmiths. Concerts on 23.04.2017 and 24.04.2017 will take place at Goldsmiths Great Hall, and will include commissioned works and a selection from the Call for works. Workshops, installations and listening rooms will be at various locations throughout the symposium at Goldsmiths.