Sensory studies arises at the conjuncture (and within) the fields of anthropology • sociology • history • archeology • geography • communications • religion • philosophy • literature • art history • museology • film • mixed media • performance • phenomenology • disability • aesthetics • architecture • urbanism • design

Sensory Studies can also be divided along sensory lines into, for example, visual culture, auditory culture (or sound studies), smell culture, taste culture and the culture of touch, not to mention the sixth sense (however it might be defined)

Sound Gallery

Sound as a subject of sensory studies is much written about, through the disciplinary paradigms of the social sciences and humanities, but has received less attention as a means of sensory exploration through the practice of sound recordings. In part this is an issue of disciplinary differences in expectation and support for sound projects that are led by practice as a process and outcome of research. It is also a problem of identifying points of convergence between the concepts and debates that are associated with the study of, rather than the study by sound, such that there may be a mutual enriching of these interdependent approaches. The challenge of sound practice as sound research is to demonstrate that recordings may have an intellectual rigour and mode of argumentation that offers insights into the operation and relations of the senses across time, space and the politics of culture. Hitherto, it has been the linked recordings and writings of the anthropologist and sound artist Steven Feld which has demonstrated what might be possible, for those working within the publishing imperatives of the academy. His work is informed by an array of influences that include the kind of recordings assembled here, which are not conceived or carried out primarily as sensory studies, but are insightful nonetheless.

These recordings are not linked by theme, region or technical style, but share a commitment to the possibilities of sound art practice as a critical means of engaging the senses with the sonic energies of the world around us. They identify the importance of learning how to listen, how to make recordings, and how to use those recordings effectively.

Submissions are invited. They should consist of: i. Title of recording. ii. Description of recording (100-150 words). iii. Listening -suggestions of how to listen and what to listen for in recording (100-150 words). iv. Equipment – identify the equipment used and where possible recording technique. v. Bibliography / Phonography – related works (100-150 words). vi. Biography of recordist (100-150 words). The files will be arranged by name of the recordist, and each will have its own icon , so you should provide an image for use as an icon, too. Please email your submission to

A new array of soundings will be added to this list every six weeks or so.

Osaka Inside Out by David Novak

Anspayaxw by John Wynne

A Farm in Toho by Angus Carlyle

Pencil of the Sun by Rupert Cox

Buzzing by Alejandro Valenciat

Anda’s Tape by Dorthe Bækby Olesen

Through Nonhuman Ears: Toward Object-Oriented Listening by Steven R. Hammer

Curator’s Biography (Rupert Cox)

My original, doctoral research, which focused on issues of vision and visuality in the representation and practice of the Zen arts in Japan has developed into a diversity of projects and publications on 16th century folding screens, 19th century automata and modern aircraft – linked by interests in the relationships between technology and the senses and in media practice as a means of conducting sensory anthropology.

My current research deals with the political ecology and cultural history of domestic and military aircraft noise in a multi-regional context. It is a continuation of fieldwork, sound and film productions carried out over the past three years which focused originally on US military bases in Okinawa and has expanded to the Japanese domestic airport at Narita, Tokyo and to airbases, museums and indigenous communities in North America. This research is based on a cross- disciplinary collaboration with a senior scientist (Professor Hiramatsu) and addresses a significant political issue of public health in the environment by applying a combination of media – audio, visual and textual.

It is an approach also represented by another research project, with an artist and academic at University of the Arts, London, and supported by a grant from the Wellcome Arts Trust. This research also combines different media in conjunction with an art installation to produce outcomes that are intellectually meaningful, artistically exciting and have a social impact. It is a project driven by the experience of working on an installation with the sound artist and anthropologist Steven Feld which resulted in an exhibition at the Whitworth art gallery (2007) that coincided with a major conference (Beyond Text) at Manchester University. This will be published by Manchester University Press in 2010.

Recommended Reading

Attali, Jacques. 1987. Noise, The Political Economy of Music. University of Minnesota Press.
Bull, Michael and Back, Les, eds. 2003. The Auditory Culture Reader. Berg.
Prendergast, Mark. 2000. The Ambient Century. Bloomsbury.
Schafer, R. Murray. 1977. The Tuning of the World. McLelland and Stewart.
Erlmann, Veit, ed. 2004. Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening & Modernity. Berg
Feld, Steven. 1999. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression (2nd edition). University of Pennsylvania Press
Mark M. Smith, ed. 2004. Hearing History. University of Georgia Press
Taylor, Timothy D. 2001. Strange Sounds: Music, Technology, and Culture. Routledge
Erlmann, Veit. 2010. Reason and Resonance, Zone Books

Recommended Websites

British Library Sound Archive



Quiet American

Chris Watson

UbuWeb Sound

Sound and Anthropology

Soundscapes and Music Tradition

Vox Lox Documentary Media Arts

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

World Forum for Acoustic Ecology