Advances In Eco-Sensing and the Soundscape: A Virtual Panel

Panel Organizer:

Eric Leonardson, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, Chicago, USA.

Paraphrasing Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar, it is surprising that our sense of place is so strong and yet it defies definition. Herein lies one of many paradoxes and conundrums that provide a kind of soil or spark for new ideas about how art and science attract constant appraisal and reappraisal of the questions: “Where am I, where do I belong?” as a state of being. Proposed is a panel discussion of several ongoing projects that intersected in 2015, under the name “Eco-Sensing and the Soundscape,” a course taught in the fall of 2015 by Eric Leonardson and Lindsey French, at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This studio course connected concepts and practices of acoustic ecology with the hacking aesthetic of art and technology to open up possibilities for transdisciplinary collaborations that offer new understandings of our environments and our boundaries, locations, and roles within them. Subsequently, numerous collaborations continue in new contexts and places with additional support for public engagement in the ecologies of sound, listening, and environment. The panelists, who join Leonardson on-site and online are sound and media artists Leah Barclay, Norman W. Long, Amanda Gutiérrez, and architect Linda Keane. Their individual and combined efforts engage and activate students and public communities in design of urban soundscapes using virtual environments, social codes of immigrant communities, river listening, soundwalking, plant communication, and new media.



art science, acoustic ecology, eco-sensing, soundscape, river listening, social codes, immigration, soundwalks, hardware hacking, technology, communication, biospheres urban, public.


Author Biographies

Eric Leonardson is a Chicago-based audio artist, co-founder and Executive Director of the World Listening Project, founder and co-chair of the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, and President of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. He is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Sound at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). As a performer, composer, and sound designer, Leonardson provided sounds of the Chicago based physical theater company Plasticene (1995-2012). He performs internationally with the Springboard, a self-built instrument made in 1994. His work for radio, “Coincidence and Control,” was featured on Kunstradio-Radiokunst in 2015. Publications include Ways of Listening, Figures of Thought: A Festschrift for R. Murray Schafer On the Occasion of His 80th Birthday co-edited with Sabine Breitsameter, published 2013. In 2015 Leonardson published articles in The Journal of Radio and Audio Media, Volume 22, Number 1, The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Volume 2, Numbers 1-2, and The Conrad Grebel Review, Volume 33, Number 2.

Born in Mexico City in 1978, Amanda Gutiérrez completed her graduate studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago specializing in performance and new media. In Mexico, she did her undergraduate studies in Stage Design at the INBA ENAT. For twelve years, she has worked in the field of performance and sound art, fusing the two disciplines in installation projects. Among the video series is “A brief history of fictions”, which consists of four projects, performed under the same methodology and work strategies from documentary and performance. This series won The Fellowship Competition 2007 and CAAP 2008, and was nominated for Artadia Art Chicago 2009. Gutiérrez received many residencies, the CMM in Mexico City in 2001, and at ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie) Karlsruhe, Germany in 2002. In 2009 she was selected by Artist Village in Taipei, Taiwan, and also obtained a scholarship for Artist Residencies Program 2009 FONCA-BANFF Centre, Canada. In 2012 she was awarded an EMARE EMAN scholarship and prize for a residency at FACT, in Liverpool. In 2011 she developed the video series “Topographies of Time,” supported by the Program Development and Cultural Conversions FONCA 2011 in Mexico City. This series has been exhibited internationally in museums, and contemporary art galleries, such as The Windor Gallery in Madrid, Spain, Khiasma Gallery in Paris, France, Move Forward Festival in Halle, Germany, Liverpool Art Biennale 2012 in the UK, Ex Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City, Mexico, and Action Art Actuelle in Montreal, Canada. Most recently, she is a recipient of the National System of Art Creators from Mexico. Gutiérrez is currently developing her most recent residency project at the B lit Contemporary Art Center, Girona, Spain. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the University of Girona, Doctoral Programme in Humanities, Heritage, and Cultural Studies.

Norman W. Long (b. 1973, Chicago, IL) is a sound artist/designer/composer based in Chicago, IL. His current work focuses on sound art production within the larger context of landscape. He has exhibited and/or performed in galleries in Chicago, Ithaca, New York, London, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The processes involved in his practice lie within the area of field recording, electro-acoustic composition and dub technique. His art/studio practice involves gardening, collecting, performing and recording to create, objects, environments, situations in which the artist and audience are engaged in a dialogue about memory, space, value, silence and the invisible. It is his desire that his practice offers us a space to consider our relationship to sound via social, ecological structures, our interiority and to affirm our existence. Long holds a Master of Fine Arts in New Genres from The San Francisco Art Institute (2001), and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Cornell University (2008).

Dr. Leah Barclay is an Australian composer, sound artist and creative producer working at the intersection of art, science and technology. Her work has been commissioned, performed and exhibited to wide acclaim across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Europe, India, South Africa, China and Korea. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and has directed and curated intercultural projects across the Asia-Pacific. She creates complex sonic environments and transmedia experiences that draw attention to social issues including climate change. These works are realised through immersive performances and multi-sensory installations drawing on environmental field recordings, data sonification, multi-channel sound diffusion, live performers and ephemeral projections. Her work is multi-platform in nature and often involves rich community engagement programs and accessible virtual outcomes embedded in each project. Barclay’s PhD involved site-specific projects across the globe and a feature length documentary exploring the value of creativity in environmental crisis. She is currently an artist in residence at the Australian Rivers Institute investigating the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics, the president of the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology and the founder and artistic director of the UNESCO Biosphere Soundscapes project.

Linda Keane, AIA, is an architect and academic passionately active in greening public imagination. Her animated films with Mark Keane are part of the J. Paul Getty and Metropolitan Museum of Art Film in Architecture Collection and received a PBS (Chicago) Emmy. She combines an ecological urbanism practice with writing, public speaking and community engagement. She collaborates with diverse practices envisioning transformative experiences as Co-founder of STUDIO 1032 contributing to sustainable initiatives along the Milwaukee- Chicago corridor. Projects include the City of Chicago Green Roof Website, Milwaukee’s North East Side Plan, Milwaukee River Greenway and Ecological Great Lakes Gateway focusing on environmental conservation, smart growth guidelines and remediating urban areas with nature play. Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she chaired development of the city’s third transdisciplinary Masters of Architecture program. Select publications include ARCHITECTURE an INTERACTIVE INTRODUCTION; The Aesthetics of Sustainability; Eco literacy: Greening Public Imagination; Design Is Our Nature: Designing K12 Design Education. Co-creator and Director of the award winning eLearning DESIGNOPEDIA,, she advocates for design thinking as necessary for cultural and community stewardship.

Lindsey French is a Chicago-based artist and educator whose work explores the complexities and tensions between new technologies and the natural world. Engaging in gestures of communication with landscapes and the nonhuman, her work spans a variety of media including video, performance, audio sculpture, and generative literature. French has exhibited and presented work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Pico House Gallery at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Los Angeles, and in conjunction with the International Symposium of Electronics Arts in Albuquerque, as well as internationally. Her work has been featured in an essay by Kayla Anderson in Volume 47 of Leonardo published in 2014, and her forthcoming essay “The Ecological Necessity of Here: Site Specificity in Meghan Moe Beitiks Track and Trails” will be published by Out of Site Chicago. French currently teaches courses blending new media practices within an ecological context at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Art and Technology and Contemporary Practices departments. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013.


Online Resources Eco-Sensing and the Soundscape course

Midwest Society for Acoustic ecology

Amanda Gutiérrez

Norman W. Long

Leah Barclay

Linda Keane

Lindsey French

World Listening Project

World Forum for Acoustic Ecology

Eric Leonardson’s “what’s new” blog


Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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