A Sonic Palimpsest: Revisiting Chatham Historic Dockyards (Sept 2020 – Dec 2022)
Principal Investigator for the project ‘A Sonic Palimpsest: Revisiting Chatham Historic Dockyards’, worth c.£250,000, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The project will last for 27 months and seeks to investigate the role of sound in influencing our experience of spaces and places, focusing on heritage sites and using the Chatham Historic Dockyard as a case study. This project explores how sound can be utilised within heritage contexts to immerse and engage members of the public, providing alternative interpretations of space and place through aural means and revealing new forms of engagement with significant sites.
This investigation is approached through the development of site-sensitive works, with empirical data collection of audience experience providing critical feedback on theory and practice.
A series of outputs will be delivered including a digitised electronic audio archive (from archival recordings held by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust), music compositions and sound installations within the Dockyard Museum, a public project website (providing documentation and evaluation of the project in progress), interactive projects for secondary school students, publications in academic journals and papers to be presented at conferences.
The project is led by Dr Aki Pasoulas (University of Kent) with Dr Andrew Knight-Hill (University of Greenwich) as the Co-Investigator, and Dr Brona Martin (University of Kent) as Postdoctoral Research Associate.
Liminal Spaces (Sept 2021 – Dec 2022)
‘Liminal Spaces’ is an immersive, interdisciplinary, mixed method and site-specific pilot research project. Its purpose is to interrogate the concept of remote or desolate places by revealing the hidden voices and activities that occur within them.
We propose that immersive, site-specific and interdisciplinary arts practices will better engage people with these (un)used spaces; our project has developed with the intention of illuminating, communicating and challenging narratives of ecology within them. We are particularly interested in dispelling the problematic insistence that humans are embedded in (rather than entangled within) nature, as we see this as a contributing factor in allowing a development agenda to thrive unchecked.
For this research project, I work with a scientist with expertise on the environment, sustainability and circular economy; an academic film and media artist; a creative writer; and a transdisciplinary artist working in the liminal space between art, science and technology.
The research project is supported by Creative Estuary, funded by Arts Council England and DCMS.
Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre (MAAST) (2012 – ongoing)
As the Director of Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre (MAAST), I developed the mapping of a flexible setup through research and experimentation, and the system’s software with external collaborators.
The development of MAAST was a major innovation that helped the Department of Music and Audio Technology to host significant events and attract the attention of international academics and practitioners. The system currently consists of an array of stage loudspeakers at different configurations and two rings of elevated loudspeakers around the audience to provide a canopy of sound. The MAAST successfully performed under my direction in challenging spaces such as the Wind Tunnels at Farnborough and a former carpet factory in Brick Lane, London. The system allows for live diffusion of stereo and multichannel works, sculpting the sound in space for immersive experiences and live choreography of sound images. The setup I developed is adaptable and depends on the spatial characteristics of concert and sound installation venues.
Sonic Cartography: Soundscape, Simulation and Re-enactment (28-30 October 2022)
Co-organised and chaired the Sonic Cartography conference at Chatham Historic Dockyard, University of Kent. This conference was part of my AHRC-funded research project Sonic Palimpsest.
The Sonic Cartography conference invited composers, artists, filmmakers and scholars interested in environmentally informed practices to come together and debate the issues surrounding the aesthetics, ethics and politics of mapping and storytelling within creative and heritage contexts.
The conference attracted 180 submissions from 32 countries, and included academic papers, project reports, fixed media compositions, installations and workshops which responded to questions of mapping and geographies across sound and image media.
Across both creative practice submissions and paper talks the conference received submissions on the topics of historical soundscapes, sound archives, sound mapping, sound and place, sound memories, anthropology and sound, industrial soundscapes, oral histories, and space and place in media. Sound Cartography aimed to situate questions within musical, visual, social and cultural contexts; foster inter-disciplinarity and explore sound, voice, text, listening, audibility and inaudibility.
Organised two day-long sessions on the theme of ‘space’. The programme is part of the AuralDiversity research series that questions ‘how’ and ‘what’ we hear, ‘what’ we listen to and ‘why’. The series is presented at three universities: Kent, Goldsmiths and Sussex. This emerged through a collaboration between Prof. John Levack Drever, Dr Alice Eldridge, Helen Frosi and myself.
These multimodal sessions trouble accepted norms in audio technology, sound culture and Western epistemologies and question the extent of human perception, our relation in and through the vibratory world, and whether hearing and listening is ever an individual act.
Sonic Exchange: Kent / Aberdeen (1 March 2019)
Sound diffusion performances of stereo and multichannel compositions by staff and students from the University of Aberdeen.
The University of Kent continued its sonic exchange with the University of Aberdeen in March 2019, at the Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Exchange Concert series between the Universities of Kent and Greenwich (2017 onwards)
Established an exchange concert series between Greenwich University and University of Kent. It involves multi-channel electroacoustic compositions of spatial sound and audiovisual works by students.
The Sound of Memory: Sound-track / Sound-scape (22-24 April 2017)
Co-organised and co-chaired the three-day Sound of Memory symposium, which brought together filmmakers, artists and composers to explore the broad domain of acoustic ecologies and soundscape’s engagement in place. The symposium received 148 submissions from 30 countries which included compositions, installations, films, workshops and paper presentations. Keynote speakers were Hildegard Westerkamp, Simon Emmerson and Sarah Turner. There were three concerts with the MAAST system.
The Symposium explored 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.
The Symposium brought together the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre (School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent) and the Unit for Sound Practice Research (Goldsmiths, University of London), partnered by The School of Sound International Symposium. It was endorsed by the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE).
Listening, Spaces and the Sounding World (16 June 2016)
Led a six-hour workshop on the interaction between sound, space and listening. A collaborative project with Sound-Image-Space research centre (SIS), Kent Interdisciplinary centre for Spatial Studies (KISS), and the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE).
Denis Smalley 70th Birthday Celebration (20-21 May 2016)
Organised the concert of Denis Smalley’s 70th birthday celebration, which included his new multichannel piece Fabrezan Preludes, commissioned by the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent. The event included a pre-concert talk by Simon Emmerson and a discussion between the two composers. The talk concerned pioneering theories and innovative artistic contributions in D. Smalley’s work, providing insights within the broader context of listening strategies, perception, reception, space and the sound world in general.
Acousmatic Transcendence: A Feast of Diffusion (14, 15 and 16 May 2015, University of Kent)
Organised the three-day Acousmatic Transcendence festival of sound that comprised spatial sound workshops and concerts. The events brought together two sound diffusion systems (MAAST and ACP Acousmonium from Vienna) that amounted to over 60 loudspeakers, and took place in Slip 3 at Chatham Historic Dockyard. The Call for works received 104 submissions from 25 countries, a selection of which was performed during the festival. The second day of the events was dedicated to works by Denis Smalley and Jonty Harrison; Jonty was our special guest and diffused works by both composers.
The project Acousmatic Transcendence aimed to develop alternative sound diffusion setups and to firmly establish the relation between the institution and the organisation that normally work independently with these two large sound systems (MAAST and Acousmonium). Both diffusion systems are mobile, which makes them flexible and able to perform in diverse and challenging spaces. Combinations of systems are rare and have not been deliberately tried to discover the implications of such mixtures; software and hardware synergies brought interesting starting points for exploitation of the systems and spatial exploration.
The MAAST/Acousmonium combination took full advantage of the spatial acoustics and choreographed the sounds in the architectural space, making the actual building an integral part of the performed works.
Speed of Sound – Aerodynamics and experimental acoustics (6 July 2014)
The ‘Speed of Sound’, part of the Wind Tunnel Project, at Farnborough was a massive installation and concert in a number of challenging spaces in the Wind Tunnels, originally used for flight testing. The event comprised among others the works of SMFA composers Dr Paul Fretwell and Dr Aki Pasoulas. The sound was diffused in the wind tunnels and the main central space for a seated audience.
The Music of Bernard Parmegiani (21-23 March 2014)
Bernard Parmegiani tribute concerts, hosted by LCMF. The events featured many high-profile guests, including the director of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) Daniel Teruggi, Denis Smalley and Jonty Harrison.
The influential electroacoustic composers and scholars Profs Denis Smalley and Jonty Harrison, along with Dr Peiman Khosravi diffused Parmegiani’s works on the first day of the festival, Friday 21 March. The Director of MAAST Dr Aki Pasoulas with Dr Ambrose Seddon and Dr Diana Salazar diffused Parmegiani’s music from the 1970s on Saturday 22 March; while on Sunday, the director of the renowned Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), Daniel Teruggi, concluded the 3-day tribute festival. All three days were sold out.
Symposium on Acoustic Ecology (8-9 November 2013, University of Kent)
Organised the two-day Symposium on Acoustic Ecology, which investigated soundscapes as complex sounding systems that change in space and time, and shape our understanding of the surrounding world. The symposium received 130 submissions from around the world, which included compositions, installations and paper presentations. Keynote speakers were Prof Barry Truax, Dr Katharine Norman and Richard Ranft.
The Symposium brought together several partners: the Sound-Image-Space research group (School of Music and Fine Art), the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (School of Anthropology and Conservation), the Unit for Sound Practice Research (Goldsmiths, University of London), the UK and Ireland Soundscape Community (an affiliated member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology) and the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. It was funded by Simon Fraser University, Goldsmiths College, Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (KIASH), the School of Anthropology and Conservation and the School of Music and Fine Arts (SMFA) University of Kent.
The Symposium on Acoustic Ecology was endorsed by the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE).
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