Category Archives: Archive Stories

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!


Archival Interventions – Holly Ingleton

Holly is a scholar interested in Cultural Theory and how sound can be used, and how cultural ideas are manifested in the use of sound, along with other concerns such as Feminism, Queer Theory, Antiracist, Critical Race Theory, Black Feminism, and Post-colonial Theory. She contributed to the cataloguing of ‘Her Noise Archive’ (a resource of collected materials investigating music and sound histories in relation to gender), and also researched The Devotional Collection (a collective memorialisation of black British women in the music industry), by Sonia Boyce; in a project on the ‘Women’s Art Register’ which she is currently working on, she is interested in the migratory patterns of the objects of the collection:

Regarding collection of data, she struggles with the generalised surveillance culture, and the degree of cultural and technological mediations that a material can have. Following this, she has an anti-canonical perspective on archives and as a response she questions what is missing from them:

She reflects on the Internet as an archive, whose interfaces for sound need to be re-thought, to work for us from a critical perspective:

Within the Sound Matters Framework, she thinks relational playback is the most fundamental process and she is interested in ‘jamming’ the reality of archives focusing on the relationships between people and archival artifacts, possibly through mediated interfaces such as telematic technologies:

These could bridge divides, for making connections, and for ‘undoing’ traditional processes of interrogation of data.

Do you identify with Holly’s thoughts? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with archives and the use of sound?

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

The Archival Threshold – Andrea Zarza

Andrea Zarza is an independent researcher and Curator of World and Traditional Music at the British Library. She is interested in how history is written and the role sound can have in this. In 2012 she wrote an instruction manual called ‘Sonic Time Capsule’, which is a conceptual framework for a hypothetical workshop in which a sonic time capsule is created although its contents are performed rather than buried. The idea with the manual was to stimulate thinking about how sound preservation might take place within a present time:

She also created a sound piece commissioned by the Reina Sofía Museum where she explored the narrative role indexical traces of sound can play. Listen to the piece via this link.

She participated in David Toop’s Archive Breathing series at Central Saint Martins with a performance where people made a paper record of the event and donated it to an ‘archive’ by crossing a line on the floor which represented ´the archival threshold´. This was a whimsical way of making explicit the moment in which a document becomes historical:

For her, working with sound is mainly about listening and she mentions “Sonic Meditations” by Pauline Oliveros (1977) and “A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Soundmaking” by R Murray Schafer (1992) as two key references.

She is currently writing her Masters thesis at University College London on copyright for sound recordings with a focus on the 2014 exceptions on the Copyright Act for libraries, archives and museums.

Within the Sound Matters framework, she believes that all the outlined elements are connected and necessary to promote a culture of listening. She imagines the creation of a technical tool that will help her find the sounds she wants to find more easily, using very personal and subjective, nonverbal descriptions.

Do you identify with Andrea’s practices and issues? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with sound in this framework?

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