Symposium | Materials of Sound

Symposium | Materials of Sound
 | Wednesday, 24 August, 10am – 6pm
Location | Artspace, Level 2, Seminar Room
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Vincent & Vaughan O’Connor, 'Millionth Acre', 2015, installation view, Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2015. Photograph: Jessica Maurer

Vincent & Vaughan O’Connor, 'Millionth Acre', 2015, installation view, Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2015. Photograph: Jessica Maurer


Materiality is a constant and contested topic in contemporary art. In recent years the experimental sound arts have shifted away from digital and post-production sound in a turn back to materials. Sound in these practices is not a transparent medium played through hidden speakers, instead it is employed to investigate materials and is itself produced through materials that have various histories, including social/cultural/political, art historical, geological/ecological and electrical.

This daylong symposium will bring together a diverse group of speakers who in thinking about sound as more than sound will bring sound full discussions of politics, concepts and histories in the arts to the fore.

Amelia Barikin (Brisbane)
Seth Kim-Cohen (Chicago)
Frances Dyson (Sydney)
Johannes Kreidler (Hamburg)
Joel Stern & Danni Zuvela (Melbourne/Gold Coast)

More information on the symposium -


About the author

Amelia Barikin (Brisbane), Mineral Volumes

Focussing on the appearance of ‘sound fossils’ in a number of works of contemporary art, this talk discusses the way that traces of sound can trouble binary distinctions between animate and inanimate materials. The goal is to test out an ethics of being in which the living-non-living binary might be said to no longer apply: to think about what it might mean to conceive of a mineral ontology of contemporary art.


Amelia Barikin is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of Queensland whose work often focuses on the relation between art and time. Publications include Parallel Presents: The Art of Pierre Huyghe (MIT Press, 2012), and the anthology Making Worlds: Art and Science Fiction (co-edited with Helen Hughes, Surpllus, 2013).



Seth Kim-Cohen (Chicago), Against A Falling Fabric

Sound is never present but always elsewhere and elsewhen: faraway thunder always late to lightning’s party. Sound is always haunted by that-which-is-other-than-sound: else-sound. Disparate and dispirited, sound behaves like all manner of contemporary phantasmagoria: simulacra, becoming, and the trace; capital, debt, and speculation. Recent works by Matthieu Saladin and Johannes Kreidler shroud the ghosts of global contemporaneity in sonic fabric: a double-haunting that makes forms and forces apparent. What is revealed, of course, is not a secret substance, but a constitutive ever-elseness


Seth Kim-Cohen generates output in numerous fields and media. He is the author of Against Ambience and Other Essays (2016), In The Blink of an Ear: Toward A Non-Cochlear Sonic Art (2009), and One Reason To Live: Conversations About Music (2006). Artforum refers to his gallery-based work as “collegial and awkward, a real-life mistake framed by a semi-fictitious context… an allegory for experimental thinking in general.” He received his PhD from the University of London in 2006 and is Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.



Frances Dyson (Sydney), Sonic Mattering

This talk discusses some of the discursive and aesthetic contributions that sound makes to the broader cultural and eco-political fields, looking in particular at modes of understanding engendered through the sonic arts, and offering some speculations on an aurally inspired understanding of materiality and ‘mattering’.


Frances Dyson is Emeritus Professor of Cinema and Technocultural Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW. She is the author of The Tone of Our Times: Sound, Sense, Economy and Ecology (MIT Press, 2014); Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture (University of California Press, 2009).



Johannes Kreidler (Hamburg), Sound and Gravity

Recently exploring the use of gravity as a sound source, Kreidler gives certain materials and meaningful objects their own sonic course by letting them fall down or by letting things fall down on them. Often this is combined with the use of video. Kreidler will present these examples and discuss reasons for such a kind of non-human expressiveness / non-expressiveness.


Johannes Kreidler studied composition, electronic music and music theory at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg and at the Koninklijk Conservatorium The Hague. He currently teaches composition and music theory at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.



Joel Stern and Danni Zuvela (Melbourne/Gold Coast), More or Less Immaterial

Ever since sound entered the space of art, it has been plotting its escape. Dematerialising strategies offer an array of possible excursions, but their audibility is only ever possible within the echo chamber of the art world. Can rendering sound immaterial – present but displaced, unimportant but fundamental – offer an alternative escape route?




Materials of Sound Symposium is supported by UNSW Art & Design, NIEA, Artspace Sydney and Liquid Architecture

Seth Kim-Cohen is a guest of Monash Art Design & Architecture

Johannes Kreidler is supported by RMIT international Artist in Residence program (iAIRt) and the Goethe Institut