Thanks to the Research Support Award I was able to attend and participate in the Audire Conference 2022 entitled ‘Sound Experiences: Memory, creativity and participation’. The conference took place in Braga, Portugal on the 27th and 28th June 2022. You can see the beautiful view from my accommodation in the title picture.

The reason I attended the conference is twofold. Firstly, my sound work ‘A Walk 1’, was selected by curator Cláudia Martinho to be included in the ‘listening room’, an exhibition space that was part of the conference. ‘A Walk 1’ is a sonic representation of my lockdown walks in South Manchester, UK. I used field recordings of me walking through my local park (Alexandra Park) and birdsong. I then invited my friend and fellow electronic music producer and sound artist Hervé Girardin and we improvised the music together mixing the field recordings with improvised synthetic sounds. Afterwards I sat down and edited the recording from the jam session and crafted this track as a celebration of more improvisation and collaboration in electronic music and sound art. Having this piece presented at the conference was a great experience as it was the first time that a practice-based element of my research was presented in an academic context. Not only were conference attendees able to listen to the track in the ‘listening room’, they were also provided with my instructions: “Close your eyes, listen and imagine you’re on a walk through your neighbourhood, a local park, nature, whatever comes to mind. Let the music take you on a journey, notice which thoughts and feelings arise and accept them. Reflect on how this sonic experience made you feel, relax.”.

My second reason for wanting to attend the conference is that Brandon LaBelle was a key note speaker. He is a sound researcher and artist whose research provided me with the central concept of my thesis – the sonic self. His theoretical perspective is what helps me situate listening experience between the self and one’s sonic environment. In a nutshell, with new technologies emerging the sonic self sits between all various diffuse auditory signals internalising and externalising the ever changing and expanding sonic environment. At the conference he presented a newer piece of research of his that dealt less with subjective perspectives on sound, but rather affective ones. That resonated with me as I am currently trying to combine subjective and affective approaches to understanding one’s listening experience. However, he used affect theory to understand his practice as part of a wider network, whereas I try to understand is a means to better understand one’s listening experience, looking inward. We had a good conversation about these ideas and I also connected with other sound researchers and/or artists and had lots of inspiring conversations. I also felt inspired by the richness and the variety of the conference programme, ranging from paper presentations to sound installations, performances, workshops and film screenings.

Overall, attending the Audire Conference was highly beneficial for further developing my practice-based and participatory research approach as I learned how to present sound works in an engaging way at conferences. Moreover, I feel very inspired by Brandon LaBelle’s more recent research, the great conversations I had with all attendees and the conference programme as a whole.

You can listen to ‘A Walk 1’ here:

Photo by Rachel Beeson

Markus received a Research Support Award to help fund his attendance at the Audire Conference. Find out more about the Research Support Award in the Funding section of Moodle.

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