INTIMAL: Interfaces for Relational Listening


As a further development derived from all the learning in Sound Matters Framework project, and other research insights, Ximena Alarcón has started her post-doctoral research project INTIMAL: Interfaces for Relational Listening, at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo.

In the European context of migration and diasporas, and at the intersection of sound art, music cognition, psychology and human-computer interaction, this project is developing a novel physical-virtual “embodied system” for relational listening. Through the artistic practice of telematic sonic performance this system will interconnect people’s bodily motion and voice with their memories and dreams of distant locations.

To follow this project visit the blog page of INTIMAL. INTIMAL is funded by a Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship.


Tuning the Interface for Relational Listening

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-11-41-25The paper “Tuning the Interface for Relational Listening” written by Ximena Alarcón has been published on the Proceedings of Live Interfaces Conference 2016.


“This paper re-visits my creative and research experiences with the creation of sound-driven interfaces for navigation and performance, as part of a personal quest for space and identity. Involving geographical migration, its sonic experience and the connections mediated with internet technologies, the experience of listening and performing within dislocation refers not only to the development of technological systems, but also to the exploration of new forms of interacting with the self and others through listening and sounding in distant locations, inviting participants to the discovery of ‘in-between’ sonic spaces for being.

Derived from the need for a shared conceptual and technical framework, the project ‘Sound Matters Framework’ has explored, with other sound artists and researchers, practices of interrogation and relational playback for the creative interplay of field recordings and speech. The framework has evolved into the idea of creating interfaces for relational listening. What characteristics might be involved in such imagined interfaces and what relational listening means within contemporary contexts of dislocation, are the questions that I am formulating on this paper within the broader field of live interfaces.”

Trond Lossius visiting CRiSAP


Sound and installation artist Trond Lossius is visiting CRiSAP as part of a collaboration initiated between CRiSAP and the Bergen Center for Electronic Arts – BEK. Derived from the experience with the project Sound Matters Framework we are envisioning possibilities for the creation of interfaces for relational listening accessing to archives of field recordings and speech, and working creatively with them using the Jamoma platform. He will offer a talk to CRiSAP members about his work at the CRiSAP Soirée on April 26th.

Trond Lossius is a sound and installation artist living in Bergen, Norway. His projects investigate sound, place and space, using sound spatialisation and multichannel audio as an invisible and temporal sculptural medium in works engaging with the site. He has collaborated with other artists on a large number of cross-disciplinary projects, in particular sound installations and works for stage. As part of LMW, in collaboration with Jon Arne Mogstad and Jeremy Welsh, he has done a series of installations combining paintings, video, prints, and sound. He has contributed to several productions with the contemporary performance group Verdensteatret, winner of New York Dance and Performance Awards a.k.a. The Bessies 2005-2006 in the Installation & New Media category.

He graduated with a master degree in geophysics from the University of Bergen, and went on to study music and composition at The Grieg Academy. From 2003-2007 he was a research fellow in the arts at Bergen National Academy of the Arts.

Trond Lossius is research and development coordinator at BEK – Bergen Center for Electronic Arts. He contributes to development of the software framework Jamoma, and he has ported Ambisonic Toolkit to a set of plugins for the Reaper DAW. He was Norwegian delegate to the EuropeanCOST action on sonic interaction design 2008-2011. 2012-2013 he was engaged as full professor at Bergen Academy of Art and Design coordinating the artistic research project Re:place.

A warm welcome to Trond at CRiSAP!



BEK visit – Collaboration

Inspired in the Jamoma framework I visited the Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts – BEK in Bergen – Norway, with the support of Erasmus staff exchange at the University of the Arts London. I received the collaboration from Trond Lossius, and we worked together envisioning possibilities for the creation of interfaces to access to archives of field recordings and speech, and work creatively with them. I had the opportunity to understand more the Jamoma platform, and we shared and clarified conceptual and technical frameworks for the use of sound recordings that reside on Internet-based archives, exploring also their accessibility. We started a prototype using Jamoma and Freesound API, and will engage in collaborations which will allow us to continue with the prototype and explore interfaces for Relational Listening.

Also I offered a talk about my artwork and received nourishing feedback from students and artists from diverse disciplines at Bergen. Comments around the patterns of working with time and technologies, and the issues of privacy involved in my different works, were food for thought.

Many thanks to Trond Lossius and Lars Ove for such a warm and engaging visit at BEK!

Here there is a link to the blog post in BEK’s blog of my visit


Sound, Images and Data conference – New York

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Sound Matters framework initial results were presented at the Sound, Images and Data SID Conference in the New York University, Steinhardt School, which focus was to analyze the role of the artists and curators in creating new experiences and aesthetics in the 21st century. We offered an academic paper which is introduced in this abstract:

‘This paper examines initial research findings for the creation of Sound Matters, a framework that facilitates the creative interrogation and relational playback of sound on ‘its own terms’, for the interdisciplinary research community. Departing from artistic and methodological experiences of Sound Artists, Anthropologists, and Geographers, amongst others, working creatively with field recordings and speech as cultural memory, the need was felt to articulate this knowledge, focusing on accessible sound-specific tools for retrieving and relational listening. Questions such as the reliability of machine procedures to ‘listen’, the performative actions that create sonic experience, the use of personal vs institutional collections, the process of relational listening as expansive path for knowledge, and the increasing use of accessible technologies for audiences to experience sound, are emerging to push boundaries of traditional perspectives on the treatment and archival of sound data.’

The paper received interesting feedback such as the identification of artists and researchers’ practices with Sound Matters methodological framework, and also understanding the dynamic and flexibility of the framework. In this aspect, we received an interesting suggestion from artist Florian Grond of looking at ‘boundary objects’, to reflect on the dynamic of the framework.

We had a very nourishing conference and discussion about the difficult times we are living managing image and sound information, our quest to creating meaning our of these materials, and the gain and loss we experienced in our practices of retrieval and selection. It is really rewarding to discuss artists’ perspectives which elevate the situation to our current environmental, social, economical and political circumstances surrounding data, and how we intervene in these contexts.

Results and creating a network of collaborators

Sound Matters project and our pitch in JISC second Sandpit at the Imperial College of London received a wonderful review by Angus Whyte on the Digital Curation Centre blog. Here we are posting the fragments when he refers to the project Sound Matters:

“The Sound Matters project grabbed my attention for the way it has developed its framework for archiving and reusing sound recordings. It’s aim is to facilitate “interrogation and relational playback of sound in its own terms”, as described on the project blog. The focus is on humanities researchers who use fieldwork to gather sounds and speech.

The project started with a straightforward and elegant model for understanding these researchers’ interactions with archived recordings. What really impressed me was the effort that has gone into working with this interdisciplinary community to take the framework further. This has ranged from interviews and a co-design event to an online community event, which was publicised through social media and used ‘virtual board’ to capture comments on the framework. This then fed into a co-design event.  There’s a lovely video here with a foretaste of prototypes to come if, as I hope, they get further support. Maybe there’s something about the medium conveying the message in a more interesting way, or maybe it’s the embedding of a remix and reuse culture in this discipline. Whatever the key ingredients, this project seems to me to effortlessly make the case for putting RDM support in the hands of researchers who really understand what it takes to make their work reusable. ”

Later on his post he states:

“Personally I was interested in how much genuine co-design has been carried out, and would be going forward. To what extent are the teams using any process to “empower, encourage, and guide users to develop solutions for themselves” (1). The overviews on day one gave a little more indication of that than the pitches. So I didn’t find it particularly easy to tell, but if I was dishing out prizes (and excluding projects with any DCC involvement) four projects stood out as having engaged most with their prospective users and stakeholders;

  • Sound Matters
  • Enabling Complex Analysis
  • Unlocking Thesis Data
  • Integrated RDM for Small and Specialist Institutions”

– See more at:

We are grateful with this positive review of our work. Although this time JISC didn’t fund our second stage, we are pleased with the first stage of the project and the work that has been developed. We are listening to the funding environment and keep moving forward and revising our goals for more opportunities to come.

We are opening an email list and inviting all the collaborators to be part of our network. We had a very intense time of discussion and collaboration that would like to continue!

Here you can download a full report of the first stage of the project:

Click to access SoundMatters_report1.pdf

We are also part of the reading list of Research Data Spring JISC funded projects:

Thanks to all collaborators for the hard work!

Sound Matters Team

Sandpit 2 JISC

Sandpit 2 JISC

Sandpit 2 JISC, Imperial College London, July 14th 2015

Sound Matters applied today for funding the Phase 2 of the project. If the bid is successful, we expect to develop a prototype connecting the latest grassroots technologies for the processes of Relational Playback and Interrogation in the framework, according to specifications that will be created by the Sound Matters community together with developers.

We want to have a listening-led environment with a friendly and free modular system that enables researchers working creatively with field recordings and speech to create listening experiences for a diversity of audiences and render these experiences in a diversity of interfaces.

Details of this and other projects funded by JISC are being published on the new wiki page of Research Data Spring:

Wiki for Sound Matters

Wiki for all projects

Fingers crossed!

Co-design workshop and first stage

On June 25th, 16 interdisciplinary researchers gathered in the Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice, LCC, UAL, to engage in the reflection on archives, and algorithmic processes and to experience the latest Open Source technologies for Interrogation and Relational Playback of Field Recordings and Speech. Here you can watch the video of this experience and the process of the first three months of the project:

Thanks to all participants!

Sound Matters Framework team

Unfolding space: The Travelling Archive – Sukanta Majumdar

Sukanta is a sound artist and film composer who is interested in memories of place and how sound can give you a sense of time. He has been recording for years in an empty factory in Calcutta called National Instruments, and engaged with its history at the different moments in which he has recorded it . This was not thought of as an archival project; it was created for the need of searching for something there, in that empty space, through sound.  Within the process he has been amazed of how sound has an extraordinary way to relate to time, memory and history of a place:


From these sounds he created an installation in 2010 in the lifts of London College of Communication, during a Research Fellowship at CRiSAP. He re-uses many of these sounds also for film and theatre plays.

Since 2003 he has been collaborating with Moushumi Bhowmik, in The Travelling Archive , a sound project that collects memories around Bengali culture, its connections and transformations through the memories of music, but it goes beyond music involving the Bangla language and many other elements associated to this culture. The archive is ‘travelling’ because it goes to people to experience it, searches for people, as opposed to the traditional way of people going to the archive:


When people listen to the archive, the story expands, as they bring more elements to it.  The purpose of the project is to go beyond the known history of traditional perceptions of Bengali culture, for example, in East London.  In that way a new landscape can be created through the connections between memories of people:


The Travelling Archive opens as an installation to the public in Rich Mix, London June 22nd to July 5th , a great opportunity to find connections with Bengali culture as well as with stories of people who live in and between multiple homes.

Within the Sound Matters framework, he finds interesting the possibility of having ‘sonic memories’ as search criteria, that goes beyond the search for a particular sound, but that facilitates an encounter and a connection with links between scattered memories:

Do you identify with Sukanta’s experience, research and ways of looking at an archive?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!

Random Walk, Unmasking Talk – Ron Herrema

Ron is a composer and developer who combines algorithmic tools with a variety of materials, such as speech, field recordings, and electronic music. In so doing, he likes to apply randomness with a certain degree of control. In 2006 he composed a piece entitled “Let Freedom Ring”, which evolved into an 8-channel installation. In it, he combined voice recordings from the 2000 US Republican National Convention (culled from the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University) with recordings from telephone answering services:

To interweave these materials he used algorithmic techniques in the visual programming software Max/MSP, which helped him to convey his satiric intention of revealing the impossibility of choice that surrounds us politically and in everyday narratives as we interact with technology. He also folded in commercial radio adverts, and a meaningful phrase from American political discourse:


Ron explains technically how the installation worked and how he controlled the different banks of sound:

Fragments of speech were chosen to highlight various subtexts within the original recordings, which, as a semi-determinate layer, were combined with a completely indeterminate layer of sound within the algorithmic process.

The eight-channel installation was eventually rendered into a binaural recording for wider dissemination, which does not necessarily offer the same spatial dimension of the 8-channel piece, but does offer an approximation. Listen to “Let Freedom Ring” here.

Within the Sound Matters framework, he finds all the components to be integrated. For him the process of ‘Relational Playback’ is especially compositional. He imagines an interface that searches semi-randomly within multiple archives, using some kind of filtering. He says it’s like walking into a library with bits and pieces of material being thrown up to grab people’s attention, and enabling them to stop and dig deeper at any point, to listen to one as a departure for discovery.

Do you identify with Ron’s practice, research and technical development and ideas?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!