Doing Sounding Exchanging Thinking: The Auditory Experience of the Social

Doing Sounding Exchanging Thinking: The Auditory Experience of the Social

Date: 31 October 2015
Time: 11:00 – 17:00.
Admission: Free

A symposium curated by thickear, with contributions by Thought Collider, Mark Bain, Justin Bennett, Brandon LaBelle, Scanner, Salomé Voegelin+David Mollin, David Toop, Kim Noble, Christof Migone, Teresa Cos, Giovanni Papini+Alex Rothera, and Linnea Semmerling

Doing Sounding Exchanging Thinking is a symposium that considers an intersection of ‘the sonic’, ‘knowledge sharing’, and ‘social action’ by expanding the idea of a performance-lecture to encompass a daylong symposium event. It will employ a cross-practice dialogue for artists, researchers, and audience to examine the sonic as articulated through notions of agency and performative practices.

The Symposium invites international practitioners and academic researchers in the Netherlands. It provides an array of responses to how sonic practices implicate the social and what the conditions for these engagements can be. There are three types of presentation:

  1. Presentations by invited speakers
  2. Commissioned contributions by internationally renowned practitioners, which thickear enact
  3. Presentations by researchers currently active in Dutch research institutes.


1. Presentations by invited speakers

Mark Bain, The Archisonic

The Archisonic is a lecture about Mark Bain’s use of varying arrays of seismological sensors placed throughout buildings, which turns architecture into giant sonic instruments. Is there a future of sound that surpasses the ear to engage a direct bodily experience, a kind of body-ear hybrid or haptic sonic experience? Can the body be the connecting point for tuned energy, attaching the self to that of others and the space around you?

Mark Bain is a sound artist whose work centres on the interaction of acoustics, architecture, and physical and mental reactions to infrasonics – sounds below the human hearing threshold. Bain’s ongoing research investigates the effects of inherent and induced sonic events on structures and the people that inhabit them.

Mark Bain

Justin Bennett, Hyper-Forum

‘Hyper-Forum’ is an archive of 3D recordings of contrasting public spaces – from plazas and parks to stations and markets – presented as an ever-changing composition. Bennet will perform an excerpt from a version made for the Maxxi museum in Rome in 2014.
Justin Bennett takes the sound of public places and uses it as the matter for his works; the sounds of the many and diverse actions that happen within them (talking, footsteps, games, music, processions, demonstrations), their acoustics (echoes, reverberations, resonances), and their ambient, non-human sounds (wind, water, traffic, birds and animals). The mix or ‘ecology’ of sound sources within the architectural acoustics of these public spaces plays a part in the perceived public-ness of the locations. The sonic qualities of public space ideally encourage certain kinds of activity.

Justin Bennett

Thought Collider (Susana Cámara Leret, Mike Thompson)
‘Making, Researching, Exchanging, Drinking’

The Institute for the Design of Tropical Disease promotes a ‘science of freedom’, to shift narratives on tropical disease from the dogmatic to the imaginative. Delving into the manifold narratives that influence the spread of tropical diseases, the project revisits the consumption of tonic waters as a remedy for mal’aria, or bad air. Exploring the sonic through odours and the shared medium of vibrational frequencies, the artists appropriate air as a material to ask: how might the DIY recreation of a classic cocktail lead to a reimagining of tropical disease? Throughout the event, the artists will enact a live research into the chemical/flavour composition and historical/cultural meaning of the classic cocktail ‘Gin and Tonic’, leading to the design of a ‘Night of the Dead’ cocktail to toast Halloween.

Thought Collider is an experimental, critical art/design research practice based in Amsterdam. Motivated by emerging technologies, their work explores meanings and values derived from alternative experiences of built and mediated environments.

Sponsored by De Nieuwe Amsterdamse Spuitwaterfabriek and Bobby’s Dry Gin

Thought Collider (Susana Cámara Leret, Mike Thompson) ‘Making Researching Exchanging Drinking’ at the Doing Sounding Exchanging Thinking Symposium

2. Commissioned contributions (enacted by thickear)

Brandon LaBelle, Rehearsal for a People’s Microphone

Originally presented as part of Espace Im Média in August 2013, this audio work features an accompanied voice that speaks of social unrest. It questions the mode of political address. It hesitates, then finds momentum. It speaks to the crowd and the crowd repeats, throwing the voice toward the horizon of a potential future: that of an imaginary republic.

Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer, and theorist. His artistic work explores situational and contextual projects that create forms of intervention in public spaces, acts of translation and archiving, as well as micro-actions aimed at the sphere of the (un)common. His recent publication, Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imaginary (Bloomsbury, 2014), is a survey of the oral cavity as the central channel by which self and surrounding are brought into relation.

Christof Migone, Present

A study in long distance ventriloquism. Teleloquism, speaking here and there. Having your voice voiced by another, not hearing your voice in the room where your words are being spoken, not being in the same room as your voice. What happens when my voice splits into me and you?

Christof Migone is an artist, curator, and writer. His work and research delve into language, voice, bodies, performance, intimacy, complicity, and endurance. He obtained a PhD from the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University in 2007. His work has been commissioned by Tate Modern, Dazibao, Kunstradio, Centre for Art Tapes, New Adventures in Sound Art, and Radio Canada, among others.

Kim Noble, Phone Call to a Dating Agency Representative

This sound work by Kim Noble, curated by thickear to include both private and public listenings, uses the award-winning artist’s provocative and humorous style to explore distance in human exchanges. A space where perceptions of separation, whether geographic, emotional or technological, facilitate viewpoints from the voyeuristic to the empathetic.

Kim Noble is an award-winning video artist and comedian whose work uses a provocative and humourous style to expose the turgid and frail qualities of the human condition. He was one-half of the BAFTA-nominated comedy duo Noble and Silver, who won the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival in 2000. Noble has since gone on to feature in shows such as The Mighty Boosh.

Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud), The Difference Between a Microphone and a Telescope

A newly commissioned performance and discursive exercise using an interactive approach to how we listen, how we interpret, and how we share information. Could one sound make one person happy whilst causing another frustration? Is there a universal understanding of which sounds annoy and which sounds please? There are no answers in this work, only propositions.

Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), whose name derives from the phone and police scanners he used in his early work, is an artist who traverses the experimental terrain between sound, space, image, and form, creating absorbing, multi-layered sound pieces that twist technology in unconventional ways. He is also a member of the band Githead with Wire’s Colin Newman and Malka Spigel and Max Franken from Minimal Compact.


David Toop, ‘Many Private Concerts’


In this original participatory performance piece for Doing, Sounding, Exchanging, Thinking, following Toop’s instructions, thickear will lead the symposium in a performance of privately heard actions to create simultaneous ‘private concerts’.

David Toop is a musician/composer, author, and curator, and he is professor and chair of audio culture and improvisation at the London College of Communication. He is the author of several renowned publications including the seminal Oceans of Sound, which examined music as a medium for deep mental involvement.

Salomé Voegelin and David Mollin, Factual Dispersion, Poetic Compression: LANGUAGES OF EXILE

Stepping backwards and moving forwards with the words of female Syrian poets, whose poems are oddly and noticeably not dated in the books recovered in a translation from the British Library. Despite the original words being imminently intelligible within the contemporary language of the particular place from where they were written – whether that is Syria, France, Lebanon or wherever. The necessary compression of meaning within each sentence of this poetry is counterpointed against the fact of legal, journalistic accuracy and its subsequent dispersal; its general thinning out, particularly in the face of reported death.

Salomé Voegelin is an artist and writer engaged in listening as a socio-political practice of sound. She is the author of Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (Continuum, 2010). Voegelin is a Reader in Sound Arts at London College of Communication, UAL. She is course leader for MA Sound Arts and has a PhD from Goldsmiths College, London University. David Mollin studied painting at Düsselfdorf Kunstakademie and the RA Schools in London. He received a Doctorate from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2007. He is currently teaching art writing at the LCC, University of the Arts, London.

3. Research presentations

Teresa Cos (Jan Van Eyck Academie)

Teresa Cos will talk about ‘Eight Chapters in Four Movements’, a two channel video of a performance made during the morning rush-hour on London Bridge. The unedited footage is accompanied by keywords taken from Henri Lefebvre’s ‘Rythmanalysis’, which are spoken at 113 BPM. The recorded action and soundtrack are phased and only synchronise at the video’s start and end.

The work of Teresa Cos combines a range of approaches informed by her diverse backgrounds in architecture, documentary photography, and music performance. She is currently experimenting with the potential of durational works to produce suspended and indefinite timescapes.

Teresa Cos

Giovanni Papini (Jan Van Eyck Academie) and Alex Rothera

‘Shaking Hands With Machines: Active Acoustic Sensing and the Future of Touch’
To exist in the age of handshakes, extremes are forced to meet halfway. The closer they get, the more differences, anomalies, contradictions, and genders begin to camouflage and blend. In this near future of interconnection and cross-breeding, the difficulty will not be software, hardware or algorithms, but designing a new language to communicate between systems.

Giovanni Papini’s work envisions future evolutionary paradigms and new topographies. His cross-disciplinary approach drifts between ideas of disembodiment, mind uploading, consciousness, and ethics. Alex Rothera is a designer, artist, and inventor focusing on the intersection of future technologies and contextual design. He is a Co-Founder of Humane Engineering and a Creative Technologist for Google Inc.

Giovanni Papini

Linnea Semmerling (Maastricht University)

Linnea Semmerling will talk about her NWO-funded PhD project ‘Listening on Display. Exhibiting Sound Art 1960s-now’. The project investigates how sound works have come to challenge curatorial strategies at art museums in Germany and the US since the 1960s, and how research into the listening experiences of artists, curators, and visitors may inform new curatorial strategies.

Linnea Semmerling is a PhD Researcher at Maastricht University. She was previously a Curatorial and Research Assistant at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, organising exhibitions and editing publications about sound in contemporary art.

Linnea Semmerling


thickear is an artist’s collective known for their engagement with concepts of exchange and public transaction. Their work interrogates contemporary themes through combinations of sound, installation, participation and performance. Formed in London in 2012, thickear have presented exhibitions and performances at a wide range of venues and events including Arbeit Gallery, Music Hackspace, Music Tech Fest, the Barbican Centre, ICT 2013 Vilnius, Lighthouse, the Royal College of Art, ICT&Art Connect, FutureEverything Festival, the Open Data Institute, and the Yard Theatre. With the Data & Ethics Working Group, thickear have presented work at the European Parliament in Brussels, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

thickear are Geoff Howse, Jack James, Kevin Logan, and Tadeo Sendon.


Curated by thickear 
Co-curator and production: Jason Coburn (Foundation B.a.d.)
Fundraising: Karin Arink, Jason Coburn (Foundation B.a.d.)
Graphic design: Michael Brenner
Catering: Inge Aanstoot (Foundation B.a.d.)
Video documentation: Marieke van der Lippe


Made with the generous support
of the Mondriaan Fonds