Sense of Remote Places: Reflections from Sound and Environment 2017

Grant Smith (soundCamp, UK), Maria Papadomanolaki (UAL, UK), Dawn Scarfe (soundCamp, UK).

This panel will reflect on outcomes and actions from the Sound and Environment conference at the University of Hull (29 June – 2 July 2017), with a focus on technical and experiential links to remote locations via real-time audio.

Live audio feeds pioneered in the arts are increasingly relevant as resources for researchers, activists and other listeners, seeking to understand and intervene around environmental change.

We will host a conversation reflecting on themes from Sound + Environment, including: the creation of spatial overlays of local and remote; communities of listening at different scales; biodiversity of interzones and ‘non-places’; ways that migration and seasonality construct and disrupt our sense of place; diy transmission communities; expanded auditoria; networking remote acoustic and environmental projects; End of the World ecologies; new environmental observatories.

These themes inform and are informed firstly by the Cumbria Open Microphone Network (COMN), a project to stream live sounds from Britain’s NW ‘Nuclear’ coast into a covered market in Barrow in Furness, and to the internet. And secondly by the Biosphere Open Microphone project with Biosphere Soundscapes and Braunton Burrows, a proposoal for a network of open microphones in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Keywords: Sound, environment, ecology, place, live, real-time, audio, Biosphere Reserves

Sense of Remote Places: Reflections from Sound and Environment 2017

A panel drawn from participants at Sound and Environment will reflect on accounts of experience and place at the conference in Hull, and especially on our sense of remote locations via real-time audio. Artistic explorations of DIY streaming and listening cross over with bio- and eco-acoustics, as ways to appreciate the acoustic texture of faraway locales, conduct ornithological surveys at a distance, monitor long-term ecological change and engage new audiences around sustainability science.

Themes will include:

  • Initiatives which create an overlay of local andremote soundscapes, shifting our sense of spatial and temporal boundaries, and opening kinds of hybrid spaces for exploration.
  • Community based listening and recording workshops as ways to engage new publics around sound and  environmental change at different scales.
  • The Third Soundscape as described by LeandroPisano and John Grzinich, based on Gilles Clément: hearing biodiversity in rural and urban waste grounds [1].
  • Networked locales: Conversations about sound andplace are interested in the local – how it is remembered, perceived and imagined; see eg David Goode [2]. They can also reveal how the local is entangled with the remote – for instance, how local soundscapes depend on seasonal flows of  organisms and sounds.
  • Real-time audio: experiences with live DIY transmission (Reveil) [3].
  • De-centred and expanded auditoria (Cage viaBennett, Iovino and Oppermann) [4].
  • End of the World Ecologies: Do such networks havethe potential to create new solidarities and creative responses to precarity (Tsing, Lorey) [5]?
  • Can they create new kinds of environmental observatories for complex, multi-scale objects of study – hyperobjects (Morton) [6]?


(Other panellists to be confirmed on the basis of Sound + Environment conference presentations)

Leah Barclay (Biosphere Soundscapes, River Listening)

Auditory mapping of river systems from Noosa in NE Australia onto the streets of Hull increases listeners’ sense of these remote flows, at the same time as it points to the past and future of water in the city, with its buried streams, flood alleviation measures, SUDS schemes and de-paving actions, which variously enlist water as an adversary or an ally (Helmreich, Latour) [7].

Rob Mackay

Sound + Environment convenor Rob Mackay will reflect on the University of Hull conference in relation to the theme of sound and place, as well as reporting on recent projects created as part of the newly set-up Sound + Environment Research Group and the University of Hull, bringing together artists and scientists to explore the ways that sound can deepen our understanding of environments. This will include ‘Offshore’,  a new commission from Invisible Dust based on the Humber Estuary, and ‘Twinned’, an education project linking Hull, UK and Freetown, Sierra Leone in acoustic ecology projects exploring place through sound and words.


We will discuss a collaborative programme launched at the Sound + Environment conference to set up a network of open microphones in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, as a resource for artists, researchers, activists and others. A new live stream at Braunton Burrows will give a sense of the project’s potential to transmit continuous live sounds from sites of acoustic and ecological singificance and create a

unique long term data set available for real-time and subsequent analysis. The open microphone project responds to the Biosphere Reserves’ remit as places of research and innovation around people and their environments. It imagines sounds of the planet’s diverse biomes as an acoustic commons, available to artists, researchers, activists and other listeners.


  1. Pisano, Leandro (November 2016, BEK presentation).Retrieved from 
    Grzinich, John (2013, Blowup #181).  Retrieved from
    Clément, Gilles (2004)  Manifeste du tiers paysage, Paris, Sens&Tonka.
  2. Goode, David (January 2017). Retrieved from brating-first-ecology-parks-london/.
  3. SoundCa mp (2 016). Soun ds Remote, Uniformbooks.
  4. Cage, John (2009 ). For the Birds. London, MarionBoyars.
    Bennet, Jane (2010). Vibrant Matter. Durham, Duke University Press.
    I ovanno, Serenella and Serpil Oppermann Eds
    (2014) Bloomington, Indian University Press.
  5. Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt (2015) The Mushroom atthe End of the World. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
  6. Morton, Timothy (2013) Hyperobjects. Minneapolis, University of Missesota Press.
  7. Helmreich, Stefan (2016). Sounding the Limits of Life. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
    Latour, Bruno ( 2004). Politics of Nature. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Authors Biography

SoundCamp work with sound and place, particularly with live audio streams that connect local and remote acoustic and ecological settings in real time. We organise the annual soundcamp outdoor listening events and produce the 24 hour live daybreak broadcast: Reveil – both on International Dawn Chorus Day each year in May.


Our work has developed in association with partner organisations, especially Locus Sonus and Cyberforest. This proposal depends on their central contributions of technical and conceptual approaches together with the contributions of Sound + Environment and the ongoing work of Biosphere Soundscapes.

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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