Dr. Toby Gifford is an acoustic ecologist, audio technologist and sound designer. His research focusses on ‘Aural Embodiment’ – the notion that much more of our lived experience is mediated through sound than is typically understood. His Jambot software has received national acclaim, appearing on the ABC New Inventors program. Interactive installations have been exhibited in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Museum of Melbourne, Splendour in the Grass music festival, and the European Capital of Culture Festival in Patras, Greece. He has been artist-in-residence at the Gallery of Modern Art developing live soundtracks for silent films. He is an active acoustic musician, live electronic music performer, and works at the arts/science nexus. His research in Ecoacoustics specialises in soundscape analysis for freshwater ecosystems.
Welcome to the final edition of the AFAE Newsletter for 2016! This members update includes reports from our recent AGM, news from the WFAE and a series of events and opportunities for 2017.
2016 has been an exciting year for the AFAE with various members activities and a national conference. Feedback from members in 2015 identified the need to host national events to expand our current focus on virtual meetings. As a result we agreed to host a conference and we are pleased to report this was a highly successful event.
In July 2016, the Australasian Computer Music Association joined forces with the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology and NIME 2016 (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) to host an interdisciplinary conference at the Queensland Conservatorium on the theme of Sonic Environments.
Sonic Environments invited composers, performers, academics, field recordists, acoustic ecologists and technologists to present research and creative works exploring the ecological, social and cultural contexts of our sonic environments. This conference aimed to expand our current perceptions of acoustic ecology and the role of sound and technology in understanding rapidly changing environments across the world.
The program featured over 100 artists and presenters showcasing new work from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Vanuatu. Sonic Environments opened with a dynamic keynote panel featuring international leaders in the field of acoustic ecology who each presented short provocations on the conference theme. Panelists included Sabine Breitsameter (Germany), Sabine Feisst (USA), Stephan Moore (USA), Andrew Skeoch (Australia), Vanessa Tomlinson (Australia) and Ian Whalley (New Zealand). It was a pleasure to host members from our WFAE affiliate organisations from Germany, Canada, and the USA.
The AFAE management committee experienced a significant change at our recent AGM, with Nigel Frayne and Anthony Magen both standing down from their current executive positions. While they will both remain on the committee, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge their dedication and commitment over the years. I would have never been able to take on the role of president without their consistent advice, guidance and support. Anthony and Nigel have been the backbone of the AFAE for many years and have also served in various capacities for the WFAE. As the previous president of the AFAE, Anthony has played a critical role in the WFAE, including his role on the editorial committee for Soundscape Journal. Anthony’s sound walks have been a valuable tool for public engagement around the field of acoustic ecology in Australia and he has been instrumental in the design, development and governance of every aspect of our organisation.
Nigel Frayne has had an incredible impact on the field of acoustic ecology. As a founding member of the AFAE, he has spearheaded various activities over the years, including the 2003 WFAE conference in Melbourne, which was a pivotal event for many people, both nationally and internationally.
As the first and longest-standing chair of the WFAE, his commitment, passion, persistence and dedication transformed the organisation into a truly global network. Nigel’s vision to make the WFAE a more manageable organisation resulted in a restructure into clusters of groups with geographical administration and governance. This was the beginning of WFAE affiliates, which is how we continue to operate internationally today.
On behalf of the AFAE, I want to thank both Anthony and Nigel for their incredible investment in our organisation and commitment and dedication to the field of acoustic ecology. I am extremely grateful for the support and will look forward to ongoing collaborations in other capacities.
I am pleased to report we have a new management committee in 2017, with Toby Gifford stepping into the public officer role and Andrew Skeoch, Vicki Hallett and Jesse Budel joining as new committee members. I will continue as president through 2017 and Anthony Magen and Nigel Frayne will remain on the committee in advisory roles.
The reports from our 2016 AGM are available to all members and video documentation is available for those who were unable to attend. The other important outcomes from the AGM was the decision to update our digital presence, which includes launching a new website in January 2017. As part of the digital transition, which includes our existing virtual forum project, we will begin actively using social media in 2017. Please join us on facebook and twitter to connect with other members and stay up to date with the AFAE.
As the members of our organisation, we want to support and promote your work. Our current focus on virtual meetings is not designed to replace physical events or meetings, just extend our opportunities to engage with members across Australia. If you would like to be involved in planning these activities, or have your own ideas, please don't hesitate to contact us. Please suggest ideas or projects that you believe are well aligned with the AFAE in 2017 and we can help bring them to fruition. Members are welcome to host local AFAE meetings, sound walks or events and we are always happy to promote your activities through our national database. The AFAE exists to connect and support the acoustic ecology community across Australia.
It has been a privilege to serve in the position of president for the AFAE throughout 2016. Thank you again to Nigel Frayne and Anthony Magen for their ongoing support. I am thoroughly looking forward to working with all of our members and new management committee in 2017 and hope we can continue to bring a wider awareness and engagement with acoustic ecology in Australia in beyond.
We hope our members across Australia have a wonderful festive season and happy new year!
President, Australia Forum for Acoustic Ecology
Anthony Magen is a Landscape Architect and Acoustic Ecologist navigating the ecotones of culture. This navigation is facilitated through the construction of the built environment in a professional capacity, through pedagogy, soundwalking as an active artistic practice and an ongoing commitment to the World and Australian Forums for Acoustic Ecology. Anthony Magen’s practice includes the presentation of neorealist abstractions in ‘live’ situations, small-scale interventions, audiovisual installations and photographic presentations facilitated throughout Australia. Anthony is the previous president of the AFAE. Explore the feature on Anthony's work at Liquid Architecture.
In July 2016, the Australasian Computer Music Association is joining forces with the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology and NIME 2016 (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) to host an interdisciplinary conference at the Queensland Conservatorium on the theme of Sonic Environments.
Drawing inspiration from contemporary acoustic ecology, Sonic Environments invites composers, performers, academics, field recordists, acoustic ecologists and technologists to present research and creative works exploring the ecological, social and cultural contexts of our sonic environments. This conference aims to expand our current understandings of acoustic ecology and the role of sound and technology in understanding rapidly changing environments across the world. The conference theme encourages interdisciplinary perspectives on sound and aims to explore the possibilities of emerging technologies ranging from augmented reality sound walks and generative ecological compositions to networked performance connecting communities and immersive sound in virtual reality. We also invite research exploring aural awareness and investigations of natural and anthropogenic sounds and their relationship with the environment.
Sonic Environments is hosted in collaboration with NIME 2016 (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) the premier international conference in designing human-computer interfaces and interactions for musical performance.
Visit our call for participation for further information. Submissions close on April 8th, 2016.
For more information visit www.sonicenvironments.org
You are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2016, an annual global event held on July 18.
The purposes of World Listening Day are to:
Celebrate the listening practices of the world and the ecology of its acoustic environments;
Raise awareness about the growing number of individual and group efforts that creatively explore Acoustic Ecology based on the pioneering efforts of the World Soundscape Project, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, La Semaine du Son, Deep Listening Institute, among many others;
Design and implement educational initiatives that explore these concepts and practices.
This year’s theme for World Listening Day is “Sounds Lost and Found.”
World Listening Day 2016’s theme, “Sounds Lost and Found,” calls on reminiscing, listening and observing what changes in our soundscapes have occurred in recent decades—be it language, nature, technology, music or even silence itself. For “Sounds Lost and Found,” we invite you to dig into crates of vinyl and cassettes, dive into digital archives, and engage deeply with memories and unheard languages to rediscover or identify these “lost sounds.” In doing so, “Sounds Lost and Found” hopes to spotlight the need for effective and accessible conservatory efforts to be implemented to preserve some of these sounds—whether those efforts include archival projects, changing our daily practices or supporting the preservation of indigenous languages and engaging with the keepers of and archiving fading oral traditions where that seems impossible. We can protect and celebrate sounds whose vitality can be vulnerable and fragile.
World Listening Project, Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and Biosphere Soundscapes invite you to participate in World Listening Day 2016 on Monday, July 18, and through the week of July 16th-22nd. Some suggestions on how you can participate and organize include:
Our planet continues to change due to human involvement and interventions. People evolve. Cities morph. Technologies advance. We can hear the planet changing. Our soundscapes reflect evolution; whether created by humans, machines or nature the shifting presence and absence of sounds is affected by human activity in natural and industrial worlds.
Cities’ sonic identities are continually fluctuating as residential and commercial infrastructures develop. The resultant social dynamics of industrialization and gentrification sponsor variegated relationships between people and the public and private places they occupy.
Humans’ complex interactions with nature have encroached upon Earth’s autonomy and her anonymity. Phenomena such as pollution, deforestation and global warming are manifestations of natural processes; they are the aftershocks of industrial pursuits. Swaths of land have been decimated, dismantling animal ecosystems for human consumption and destruction. This reckless, shortsighted mode of interacting with non-human life has forced the retreat and extinction of many species, eliminating their sounds until there is silence.
Technological advances over the past several centuries, particularly in recent decades, have been astronomical. Of late, machines and media become obsolete before we have even become proficient in using them. These advances have impacted the acoustics of commercial and residential spaces with newer versions of devices designed with quietness in mind Sounds produced by older models are noticeably more obtrusive. Most of these advancements can be seen as positive, though some sounds we were accustomed to or fond of have become less prevalent or been silenced in our relentless push toward progress ad infinitum.
Some Questions of Inquiry