symposium:sound & participation

Sound & Participation is a two day conference which aims to present and unpack the shapes and possibilities of participatory sound art and music practices today. 

As an inherently relational phenomenon, sound has a privileged set of possibilities within so-called social practice. In or outside of musical structures, sound vibrates against the distinction between producer and consumer, between spaces of reception and spaces of action, between abstract and applied art. It exists in the necessarily public space between us.

By acting in such a way, sound and music open themselves up to a wide range of ethical and political questions: who speaks? in what form? to whom? on behalf of whom? who listens? who has authorship and who is paid? The conference will bring together practitioners active in the fields of music, sound, visual art, radio, theory, and activism in order to debate and carve out sound's stake in the political.

Next to the symposium, there will be workshops, a reading & watching room, a reader and an open forum where students and other participants can present their own work and get feedback.


Edit Jarzab
Jaume Ferrete
Bill Dietz
Manuela Naveau
Brandon LaBelle
Carolyn Chen
David Helbich
Tarek Atoui
Frederic Le Roy
Anna Raimondo
Care of editions
James Saunders
Conference Scedule
DAY 1 - Monday February 26 (venue KASK Miry Concert Hall, Ghent).

Bill Dietz - Feelings Are Alternative Facts
Throughout recent Euro-American election cycles, much has been written against the
"irrationality" and "emotionality" of ascendant neo-fascist political parties and
candidates. If we could only get back to rational-critical discursivity! Could music as a
technique for orienting asignifying processes - as a practice of nonverbal organisation,
play a role in articulating an antifascist politics of affect? Drawing on historical
examples and cases from his own recent work, Dietz listens closely for the traces of an
assembly imbued with "musical" intelligence.

Tarek Atoui - Understanding Contemporary Music
Tarek Atoui will present his understanding of contemporary music and the act of
composition in the heritage of Cage, Cardew and Pauline Oliveros. He will then take
examples from his project WITHIN, a project which departs from Deaf Culture to find
new ideas for building instruments, composing, and performing to show how he
composes with research, education, performance and production as much as he does
with people, instruments, sounds and situations.

James Saunders - Group behaviours as music
In daily life, large groups of people regularly co-ordinate their actions - voting, leaving
a building, selecting a restaurant, etc. As individuals we read each other's movements,
facial expressions, and utterances in order to negotiate our encounters with the people
we meet. These behaviours govern our relationships with others and our engagement
with the world. As musicians, we form complex interpersonal relationships both with
each other when playing together, and with an audience. The social behaviour of
groups can be used as a means to articulate musical structures and processes. Recent
work using recorded instructions, performance practice training, and cueing networks
suggest approaches to group behaviours that rely on different frameworks to construct
relations between performers.

14h - 17h : networks and institutions

Care of Editions - Performative Distribution
This talk looks at a history of performative distribution in music composition and
performance as a way to establish a lineage for the experimental record label Care Of
Editions. By looking, for example at instruction poems written on envelopes (which
serve as scores for unsuspecting postal workers) by Mallarmé and their relation to
digital means of distribution, the presentation aims to investigate how the distribution
of music, not only its production, can be a field for participatory involvement. Such
strategies aim to conflate the role of performer, audience, and interpreter by injecting
the mechanics of playback or content delivery with a poetic meandering.

Manuela Naveau - CROWD and ART. Art and participation on the internet
What art can result from the involvement of authors to a networked reality, and what
does this have to do with knowledge or non-knowledge? Working at the nexus of art
theory, cultural studies, media studies and the history of technology, Manuela Naveau
scrutinises the nature of participative art on the internet. In so doing, she provides an
introduction to the world of computer-aided participation models and elaborates on
terms like the masses and the crowd, the audience, etc. Nave focusses particularly on
the various forms of unknowing and involuntary participation, urging a much-needed
discussion about how to develop effective design options in a time of rapidly
progressing digitisation and transformation processes.


Frederik Le Roy - The Museum Echoes. Contemporary Choreography and the Exhibition
of Spectatorship
The background of this presentation is the current institutional desire in the
contemporary visual arts world to document, present, and ‚collect works of live art (e.g.
performance and sound art, theatre and dance) in the museum. This transposition of
works of performance from the ‚black box‚of theatre to the white cube‚of the exhibition
space questions the historically established temporal and spatial preconditions of the
museum experience (e.g. its focus on material objects instead of transitory events).
However, it also produces an interaction between the performing arts‚ and the visual
arts different codes, rituals, and modes of spectatorship. Starting from the
choreographic exhibition Work/Travail/Arbeid (Rosas) and other examples, we will
explore what forms of spectatorship these projects engender, and ‚what this might tell
us about the contemporary dramaturgies of attention and participation that emerge
when live art enters the echoey architectural and institutional context of the museum

Moderator day 1 : Wannes Gyselinck


DAY 2 – Tuesday February 27

10h - 13h : the public and the social

Carolyn Chen - Music in Social Spaces
In social spaces outside of the concert hall, physically mobile performing bodies lend
themselves to social fluidity, reconfiguring audience-performer roles, and highlighting
spatially designed structures of power. I will present a few pieces for public spaces open
to participants regardless of musical training, and discuss listening dynamics particular
to their social circumstances. Examples include pieces for supermarket, human windchimes,
rolling marbles, and a ballet for small blinking lights. In an art world context,
historical precedents include Fluxus, game pieces by Christian Wolff and John Zorn, the
Situationist dérive, Augosto Boal‚'s Theater of the Oppressed, and sound walks by Janet
Cardiff, Christina Kubisch, Ben Carson, and Max Neuhaus. Other influences include
children's games and the Taoist nature philosophy of becoming one with the
environment. I address the aesthetics of music in social spaces in relation to these
influences as well as concepts of competition, leaderless resistance, disruption, and

David Helbich - No Music - earpieces: Listening to our own hearing
Helbich's collection of earpieces‚tries through different means and set ups to trigger a
musical experience without any music being played back. The key is a guided selfperformance
of the audience, an intro-active situation, that at the same time gives back
the agency of the event to the individual audience members. The set-ups vary from
public audience-rehearsals and audio guides to simple DIY-notations in the form of
score-books and posters. For this occasion, Helbich will present a mix of thoughts and

Brandon LaBelle - Poor Acoustics
Extending from notions of precarity, Poor Acoustics, considers how sound and listening
weaken us, making us vulnerable to the intensities of worldly contact and each other. By
reflecting upon particular experiences of sound and listening, the issue of participation
will be put into question, drawing attention to interruption, silence, and overspeaking as
indicative of a sonic relationality. Accordingly, weakness is posed as a state by which to
foster new formations of social solidarity and self-organisation, where participation
requires if not demands a poor acoustics.

14h - 17h : activism and politics.

Edyta Jarzab - L'oreille primitive/L'oreille sociale
Female voice never conquered public sphere as a territory. It probably belongs to a
private and relational world and global politics is trying keep it aside or mute. What is
society deprived of without female voices? A performative lecture on acousmatic
authorities and voice of the protest.

Anna Raimondo - Gender perspectives and urban geography
Nourished by her recent theoretical and artistic research, Raimondo attempts to remap
and reflect on cities through a perspective of gender. The presentation focusses
particularly on the city of Brussels, by showing the results of a collective, workshopbased,
urban drive by women. In this workshop, the question evolved: what is a women
friendly place within urban space? Challenging the assumed neutrality of 'the public
sphere', Raimondo's presentation uses recordings and observations from this workshop
as a way to talk about how it feels to be a woman in an urban context, and what
possibilities may be present to provoke and activate public space.

Jaume Ferrete

Moderator day 2 : Chiara Nuzzi



Wednesday 28 February 10h - 17h

Bill Dietz - L'école de la claque
(venue tbc, Brussels)
That the modern European concert format and its concertante listening are exemplary
instances of the historical "public sphere" is a foundational assumption tacitly
accompanying much "critical" music production. If, however, the public sphere is
retroactively understood as a universalising projection of an exclusive cadre, where
does this leave contemporary efforts to think and to counter the algorithmic seeding of
publicness that characterises recent political history? Can we imagine non-nostalgic
forms of convocation? Following Dietz' eponymously titled work for the 2017
Donaueschinger Musiktage and its accompanying publication, the workshop invites
participants to boo and cheer their way through a history of concert publicness.

Manuela Naveau - Knowledge or Non-knowledge
(venue Q-O2, Brussels)
The internet not only makes it necessary for us to redefine terms such as the masses
and the individual, it also focuses attention on forms of participation that occur
involuntarily and unconsciously. In the workshop, we begin by looking into case studies
about sonic participation, after which we will collectively work, develop, and present
our thoughts and efforts to investigate the subject of participation in a way that is
grounded in our networked reality - as a means of navigating a course between
romanticised conceptions like emancipation and empowerment, and dystopian
connotations like surveillance, control, and appropriation.


Thursday 1 March 10h - 17h

Carolyn Chen - Music for bodies
(venue Ictus, Brussels)
Games of listening, moving, listening through moving - requiring no particular training
or instruments. Warm-up exercises drawn from aikido, tai chi, contact improvisation,
Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed. Tuning meditation, lip-reading confessions,
flocking and muting, and hacked games of three-legged races, wheelbarrows, tag,
human pyramids, steering and directing the bodies of others. Cooperation, competition,
and contact. Discuss how listening, movement, and sound-making interact in various
contexts and varying degrees of proximity, and workshop pieces by the group.

Edyta Jarzab - L'oreille primitive/L'oreille sociale
(venue Q-O2)
Edit Jarzab presents a workshop on listening, inspired by Pauline Oliveros' deep
listening practice, concepts of musique concrete and sound ecology. Over the day,
participants work toward training their ears toward the exploratory power that hearing
can be, engaging all of the body as sensitive receiver of the sound waves in relation
with other bodies and the space. The workshop will conclude with a sound intervention
in public space.


Friday 2 March 10h - 17h

Anna Raimondo - New Boundaries of the Wellness of the Vaginal Ecosystem
(venue Q-O2, Brussels)
The workshop consists of collective walks and deep listening in the city of Brussels. Each
walk begins from a place that is significant to one participant and developed into a
joint dérive by collectively following the hearing of whoever had proposed the walk‚as
beginning point. During these walks, each participant is invited to take personal notes
(recordings, visual notes, or writing) about her presence in each specific context in that
moment. Special attention will be payed to the experience of listening in these places.
Eventually, shared material from the workshop can be brought together into a radio
show or collective audio(visual) work.

David Helbich - “Audience, listeners, spectators, visitors, guests: how dare you show up!”
- audience observations & visitors scores
(venue Ictus, Brussels)
Audiences are performative, not only in an intellectual sense; by following or watching a
work of art - but also physically. Their bodies have an influence on the experience of a
piece as well as on the work itself. How can this performative quality of the audience
become a part of a work’s dramaturgy? How can artists play with this? In this workmeeting,
together with David Helbich, the participants examine and search for concepts
of intervention into the space of the audience with the aim to try out several option in
the second half of the day.


Monday 19 - Friday 23 February

Tim Parkinson - Time with people
(venue KASK, five-day commitment)
Using absurdity, humour, and non-narrativity to redefine notions of music and memory,
Time With People (2013) is an hour-long music and theatre work by British composer
Tim Parkinson (b.1973). As Parkinson writes, the opera in seven scenes for ten people
and assorted objects “redefines fundamentals of opera from its 16th century origins . . .
reconceived from elements of 21st century post-historical culture.” Time With People is
not an opera in the traditional sense. There are no characters, costumes, or even
orchestral instruments. The piece hearkens back to the traditional sense of an opera as
a collection of works, yet upends tradition by largely removing music and the orchestra,
leaving behind only fragments, both musical and literal: recorded excerpts of Handel
and Rossini begin and end the work, while a trash-strewn set serves as an orchestra of
found objects as the performers wade through it.


Saturday 3 March
Open Forum (Q-O2, Brussels)


26 February - 2 March 2018
Ghent & Brussels

February 26-27, 2018
in Kask Miry-zaal, Ghent

February 28, March 1 and 2, 2018
in Brussels, at Q-O2 and Ictus

in Kask (Ghent) open during the days of the conference

symposium: free/workshops 20€ each, on registration.
Open forum: free.
Proposals by February 1st.

In partnership with Kask & Consevatorium School of Arts Gent