Philip Samartzis, recording at Watts Hut, Eastern Antarctica, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Site & Sound: Sonic art as ecological practice

Outdoor installations from 2 December 2020, including Leah Barclay, Daniel Browning, Reuben Derrick, Susan Frykberg, Rachel Meyers, Frans Ari Prasetyo, and Barry Truax.

Indoor installations from 27 January 2021.

Steve Adam, Ros Bandt, Leah Barclay, Philip Brophy, Daniel Browning, Paul Carter, Christophe Charles, David Chesworth, Madelynne Cornish, Robert Curgenven, Reuben Derrick, Sarah Edwards, Lawrence English, Nigel Frayne, Susan Frykberg, Amy Hanley, Liquid Architecture, Rachel Meyers, Xen Nhà, Steaphan Paton, Frans Ari Prasetyo, Douglas Quin, Philip Samartzis and Eugene Ughetti, Thembi Soddell, Tina Stefanou, Barry Truax, Chris Watson, and Jana Winderen.

Site & Sound: Sonic art as ecological practice, 2 December 2020 – 2 May 2021, invites audiences to consider the importance of listening as a means towards a better understanding of the urgent and complex environmental issues facing our planet. Whether it be the roar of bushfires; the creak of fragmenting glaciers; silence where there used to be bird song; or the hum of cicadas, our comprehension of sounds can lead to an intuitive understanding of the ecological issues confronting us.

Curated by Jon Buckingham, Lawrence Harvey, and Simon Lawrie, Site & Sound surveys diverse practices to reveal the connections between deep listening, field recording, acoustic ecology, natural science, and spatialised sound in contemporary art.

The exhibition draws from RMIT’s Sonic Arts Collection, Australia’s first dedicated collection in this field, augmented by four significant new commissions. It features an evolving program of presentations, both within and beyond the gallery, across the internal spaces and outdoor environment of McClelland—these include immersive sound environments, a rich array of performances and listening events, and explorations of the history, theory and significance of field recording and sonic art which will evolve over time and provide new experiences for each repeat visit.

Site & Sound is presented in partnership with RMIT Culture and SIAL Sound Studios (RMIT), with generous support from Creative Victoria, The Besen Family Foundation, Yamaha Music Australia, and Selby Acoustics.

See the playlist and scheduled times for works in the main gallery space here

View or download the online catalogue below:

Preview selected works included in Site & Sound’s outdoor installations here:

Walking While Listening – a self-led participatory artwork by David Chesworth


Leah Barclay, Hydrology 2016 (excerpt), sound installation, 16 channels, 18 mins. RMIT University Art Collection, Sonic Arts Collection.

Daniel Browning, Latitudes: A Song Cycle 2015 – The Crucible (excerpt), sound installation for broadcast with musical notes composed and performed by Suzanne Cromb. Field recordings, interviews, guitar, flute, Tibetan singing bowls, vocals. Collection of the artist.

Frans Ari Prasetyo, City Noise – Sound (Art) and Disaster 2006 (excerpt) sound installation, 11 mins 1 sec. Collection of the artist.

Rachel Meyers, Southern Ecophony: Wind and Water 2020 (excerpt), for two violins and tape, 20 mins 21 secs. Performed by Emily Sheppard and Rachel Meyers. Sound design by Rachel Meyers with recording contributions from Luke Plumb. This project was assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts. Commissioned by Next Wave X and Liquid Architecture.