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On Mediating Space, Sound and Experience: Interviews with situated sound art practitioners

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2022

Nicole Robson*
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Nick Bryan-Kinns*
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Andrew McPherson*
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London, UK


This article reports on an interview-based study with ten sound artists and composers, all engaged in situated sonic practices. We propose that these artists engage the ear and shape possible interactions with the artwork by altering the relationship between sound, the space in which it is heard and the people who hear it. Our interviews probe the creative process and explore how a sound artist’s methods and tools might influence the reception of their work. A thematic analysis of interview transcriptions leads us to characterise artist processes as mediatory, in the sense that they act in between site and audience experience and are guided by the non-human agencies of settings and material things. We propose that artists transfer their own situated and embodied listening to that of the audience and develop sonic and staging devices to direct perceptual activity and listening attention. Our findings also highlight a number of engagement challenges, in particular the difficulty artists face in understanding their audience’s experience and the specificity of an artwork’s effect not just to its location but also to the disposition, abilities and prior experiences of listeners.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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