Sound Stream: A Journey

Sound Stream: A Journey

I first encountered live online sound streams around the same time I started to explore the many forms of online soundmaps (that are discussed in the previous blog).

In 2006, I hung a microphone out of the window of what was then the offices of Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) on the 13th floor of a 1960s tower block in the area of London called Elephant & Castle. I remember dialling into that online stream from my home in Brighton at the same time as Jérôme Joy, a researcher at Locus Sonus who was living in Aix-en-Provence and who had helped me get the stream up and running (technical matters, especially those involving cables and mixers, never being my forte). As we both heard the window frame rattle, rain spatter the glass, rolling rumbles of thunder and a sky torn by lightning, we exchanged emails about our experiences of this strange triangulation of a listening between the microphone in London, headphones in Aix and loudspeakers in Brighton. In 2020, two months into the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown, as part of the launch of Night Blooms, a poetry and photography collection published by Makina Books, I ran through the woods that were the book’s inspiration live streaming my breath, the swish of my feet through grass, bird calls, traffic on Ditchling Road. In 2022, as part of our sonic explorations of the Port of Shoreham near our homes, Simon James and I live streamed the sound of the dawn tide rising over a bank of shingle. 

The 2006 stream was broadcast on the Locus Sonus map; in 2020 and 2023, the streams were part of the annual Reveil event created by Soundcamp to celebrate the dawn chorus, with streams from all over the world being mixed live over a period of 24 hours. Although there are other sound streaming platforms, protocols and practices, Locus Sonus and Soundcamp were my introduction to the process. Each organisation additionally amplified a space of exploration where such strange almost-simultaneous encounters with audio transmission as Joy and I experienced could be thought about and thought with. Locus Sonus hosted a number of symposia dedicated to the form; Soundcamp published the book Sounds Remote about the stream experience and commissioned a number of essays of which Ella Finer’s is exemplary.

For this year’s Reveil, Arctic Auditories established a live microphone on the roof of the Polarmuseet. In March at the Soundcamp HQ, Katrin and I had an induction to the technology: learning a little more about how the streambox –  the system through which the microphone connects to a mini-computer that connects to a nearby data network and routes the audio signal to a transmission server where Joy or I or anyone else can listen in.

Given what I said earlier about technical matters, it was lucky for me that Katrin was the person responsible for getting the streambox running, as I gather this was far from a simple operation, albeit an ultimately successful one. These screenshots show the audio stream running during Reveil.

The streambox itself underwent something of an eccentric voyage from Soundcamp HQ in Loughborough Junction to the Polarmuseet in Tromsø / Romsa. The protectively-packed equipment flew with Katrin’s luggage to Oslo before being handed to our colleague Silje Gaupseth’s partner (who took the box to a meeting at the Norwegian Parliament). After the flight to Tromsø / Romsa, the wonderful Benn Gjøran Johansen wrapped the water-proofed microphones and computer in a fishing net and secured the device to the roof of the Polarmuseet, where it is now installed.

The travels of the electronic audio equipment that were distinguished by bubble-wrap, physical hand-overs and being enclosed in secure netting and Katrin’s technical ministrations to ensure that the system functioned well both speak to something Grant from Soundcamp told us about regular streamers: that they establish relations of care with their streams. At our meetings, Katrin, Paula, Britta and I have talked about another aspect of that care relation – a certain vigilance of ‘checking in’ that involves making monitoring the stream something we turn to again and again, as entertainment, as education, as a reassurance things are OK. We dial in to hear what is happening on that harbour roof top: rain falling on the sloping tiles, a party of school children walking past, the slush of melting snow, a noon high tide making waves lap audibly the shore, kittiwake cries, the weekday percussion of construction work (a chorus of hammers, drills, ratchets and truck reversing sirens all conducted by indistinct shouts), the occasional helicopter, boat engines and the very rare sound of a boat horn and the perennial drone of traffic crossing the bridge.

I often share our Arctic Auditories audio feed with friends. Many are shocked at the disparity between what they imagined a harbour so far into the Arctic Circle might sound like and how very “urban” the microphone and box and its rooftop perch make Tromsø / Romsa sound. This experiential contrast is one potential significance of the stream for our project, an affective tension that I think has often been explored by projects sponsored through Soundcamp, Reveil and Locus Sonus.

The prosthetic aurality of our streambox offers remote listeners the opportunity to speculate how the specific microphone, gain settings and placement might amplify or attenuate particular features of the sounded environment in the historic harbour of Tromsø / Romsa; to wonder about what is made here and what now, what is near and what far; to question what it means to hear world as a “live” unfolding and perhaps to question what kinds of latencies (technical as much as cultural) insert themselves between the original releases of mechanical energy that a museum passer-by might hear and the transmission that vibrates from speakers connected to a distant computer.

You can listen to the feed here and let us know what you think.


Ella Finer, “Soundcamp 2020”

Kate Donovan, “Night Radio. Radio – anthropocene entanglements,”

Angus Carlyle, “Like Trees in a Wrong Forest”

Anneka French, “Everything Looks Different in the Dark”

Video showing the pages of Night Blooms

-Angus Carlyle

On Soundmaps by Angus Carlyle

On Soundmaps by Angus Carlyle

Me and soundmaps go back a long way. I’ve been avid – and frequently critical – consumer of these modalities of aural cartography for several decades. I have integrated exploration of soundmaps into my teaching, in recent years running workshops with the wonderful MA Sound Arts students at London College of Communication, whose approaches always offer inventive (and sometimes  radical) responses to the conventions that have accreted around the form, conventions that became enshrined in a long-standing Wikipedia definition that proposed ‘digital geographical maps that put emphasis on the sonic representation of a specific location’. I commissioned an article about one example of such a digital online soundmaps from the collective New York Society for Acoustic Ecology, who discuss their multi-faceted NYSoundmap in my 2009 book Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice.

I’ve made unambiguous sound and mapping projects, too, such as “51° 32 ‘ 6.954” N / 0° 00 ‘ 47.0808” W,” my unforgivingly-titled contribution to the Sound Proof group show at the E:vent Gallery, London in 2008, which addressed the transformation of what had been a canal-side pocket of light industry and open green space for the 2012 Olympics. For 2012’s Viso Come Territorio (“Face as Territory”), another group show, I made a soundmap of the Italian commune San Cipriano Picentino in Campania.

Here are two responses to my sound-mapping activities, the first from Sound Proof’s curator Monica Biagioli, the second from Salome Voegelin’s Sonic Possible Worlds:

“Carlyle’s contribution to a sense of social and spatial orientation is asserted through finely noted observation of activity and ephemera encountered during his visits to the site. These seemingly inconsequential events and objects are plotted diagrammatically on his map as key markers of the site, giving prominence to the vernacular components of this site in transition. His approach echoes the notion that whoever maps the space gives that landscape and location its territorial characteristics”.

(Biagioli 2018: 102)

“This geography is not that of San Cipriano Picentino and not of my living room either but that of their possibilities generated in my recentred listening, exploring the material that sounds there and bringing it back into the actuality of my present listening that is every thicker and pluralized for it. These sonic narratives do not share in the generality of the visual map, nor in the image we might have of an area […] I am not following the map but mapping my own while listening.”

(Voegelin 2014:34)

From my own perspective, a lot of my creative practice inhabits a space that is proximate to maps, map-making and the devices of cartography –  and this applies not just to the more explicitly sound-related works, as might be visible above on the cover of my Makina Books poetry collection Night Blooms and an inside page from the self-published work Mirrors.

Alongside these creative projects, I’ve written a little on maps and map making. In 1999 I wrote “Below This Level There is None,” a chapter for City Levels that riffed on Virilio, Dostoyevsky and Ralph Ellison about the underground as an architectural space and how the vertical projection that is common (and pretty much ubiquitous in its adoption on online soundmaps) occludes what lies below. In 2022, I contributed an article to the Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies which, to an extent, takes some of the thinking in the 1999 article and adapts it for the sonic realm.

I’ve put both these articles on my very sparse medium account for you to read.

“Dropping Down Low: Soundmaps: Critique, Genealogy, Alternatives,” (2022) read here:

The ideas of maps and layers of sound knowledge has been a recurrent idea in Arctic Auditories. You might remember that when it was Za Barron’s turn to post to our Instagram account, she talked about sound maps: “maps can take many forms and tell many truths, but some might argue (me, for example) that they have to be visual to be maps. I just can’t get my head around the idea that a sound is a map. This is not my ontology of maps, but this project is pushing on it…”

Alongside the recordings of our conductors telling us how they have designed their soundwalks, the recordings of the walks themselves and recordings of post-walk discussions, I have been looking at Paula Ryggvik Mikalsen’s and Britta Sweers’ analyses of the transcripts of soundwalks to guide me to make new recordings of the soundwalk locations that capture a balance between what the conductor intended and what the participants experienced. This is not at all an easy task, but the inspiration is to create an online soundmap that seeks to represent this process.

I’ve been using Udo Noll’s astonishing Radio Aporee as a platform to disseminate this developing soundmap. Radio Aporee has been running online since 2000, has been hosting its maps since 2006, backs its files to the Internet Archive, has many very useful resources and, at the moment I am writing, would take me 225 days, 4 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds to listen to all its content. Radio Aporee is a firm feature of my soundmap teaching, it appears in the Bloomsbury chapter and it is certainly a good example of one of those soundmaps I mentioned right at the start of this blog post: one that I respond to as a listener. Radio Aporee has its own rules, such as the injunction to avoid ‘composition’ by editing or layering recordings. I have imposed further restrictions, too, but I am slowly building this Arctic Auditories layer. The quality of existing Aporee contributions sets the bar dauntingly high.

The current distribution of my recordings for the Arctic Auditories map looks like this.

If we zoom in you can see that there is a cluster in Tromsdalen / Romssavággi, reflecting the three soundwalks that took place there, each with quite rich details.

One of these recordings seeks to capture the sounds of the water that two soundwalk conductors told us had special meaning for them in this area.

The best way to get a sense of what I am doing with this online map is to dial into Radio Aporee yourselves (something I highly recommend you do anyway). To navigate to our Arctic Auditories project map within Radio Aporee and explore, head to this link:

-Angus Carlyle

Notes from the Tiny Conference

Section I

In the opening session, Thinking with Water – Thoughts on the Theory and Discussion, Katrin Losleben reflected on the project’s genesis and the insufficiencies that became obvious during it. Katrin explained the project’s current understanding of two of its most salient concepts, place and water, and highlighted their embeddedness in queer theory. Focusing on the feminist new materialist theoretical foundation of hydrofeminism as established by Astrida Neimanis, Katrin showed that this framework is insufficient when doing research in the unceded land of Sápmi. As the project’s central aim is to amplify local and Indigenous knowledges, she zoomed in on the specifics of the sea Sámi history – the similarities and differences of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ population, Norwegianization, German occupation, and its scorched Earth policy. The questions of how the research can proceed in collaboration with these local agents, how not to essentialize identities and experiences, and how potentially gained insights can be integrated into policymaking were discussed following the presentation. 

Section II

In the section Soundwalks 2.0, Britta Sweers presented the development of the sound walk and sound sitting methodology, which is the main activity in work package I. Sweers clarified the strategy for gathering conductors and participants, the development and implementation of the preceding Workshops for Conductors, the implementation of eight sound walks and one sound sitting, and the postwalk interviews. The question of how to work with more diverse groups and positionalities parallelled the information of what had been done so far. She also presented the Manual for Conductors and the Journal for Conductors, which the Arctic Auditories team had developed and handed to the conductors in the initial workshops. Those are also available on issuu for public download. In the second part of the session, Britta and Inga Bardsen Tøllefsen, one of the conductors, discussed the experience of developing and guiding a sound walk. Questions of the walking methodology in a Sámi context/place, ableism, intergenerational listening, human-/non-human relations, Nature with capital N, relations of multiple senses, listening as an “ecology of attention,” and, finally, the role of trouble and pleasure in research were topics of the following conversation.

Section III

“In the first section of the afternoon, Notes from the Field, Angus Carlyle opened the presentation on Notes from the Field with the genesis of sound mapping, including both visual and sounding maps that refer to bodies of water. Angus showed how visual sound maps often restrict the depiction of sound to its source but also presented some exemptions (e.g., Athanasius Kircher’s Phonurgia Nova, 1673). From these maps, water bodies are often left out and remain blanks. Examples of ‘sounding’ soundmaps included Sung Tieu’s Cold Print (2020), Andrea Polli’s Sonic Antarctica (2008), and Jananne Al-Ani’s Sounds of War II (2023). Converging on bodies of water, Angus discussed Annea Lockwood’s The River Archive (1964–) and other works, Hildegard Westerkamp’s Inside the Soundscape #5 / Harbour Symphony (1986), and finally, Mere Nailatikau’s and A.M. Kanngieser’s 2024 contribution to the CTM X Intermediale, Oceanic Refraction. With the latter, Angus pointed to the role of feminist theory in the cultural turn and, with this, to sensory and embodied approaches that, in a feminist tradition, disrupt dualisms. Also, he referred to Kanngieser’s publication on “Sonic colonialities” (2023) and its call to refrain from the idea that listening is a benign activity. Angus emphasized one prominent mode of listening that explains the project’s approach and its familiar challenges: Listening to books, artworks, and films, and listening to listeners, all modes of listening to the project’s approach to listen to ‘expert listeners,’ sound artists, listening authors and beings who have worked to listen to those silences that Western scholarship in the Arctic had left unnoticed.

Angus hosted a listening session, deploying recordings made at fieldwork sites as a focus and framed in terms of the kinds of questions that we have seen emerging in the post-soundwalk discussions. In breakout groups the participants discussed their listening experiences and noted them on framapad. You can listen to the recordings here.  

Section IV

In the fourth and final presentation, Arctic Futurisms: Writing Water, Paula R. Mikalsen, who leads WP 3 together with Elizabeth S. Barron, talked about the work being done, including the creation of an Online Writing League (OWL), a literary database of fiction, grey texts and academic works concerned with climate change, futurism, resource management and hope, and finally the creation of an aqueous glossary of local words related to water. The premise of the work package is part creative co-creation and part archival constitution and will consist of written materials from different genres and styles. Paula considered the merits of a diffractive approach inspired by Donna Haraway, Trinh T. Minhha, and Karen Barad, which “maps where the effects of differences appear” (Haraway 1992). Diffractive reading enables the researchers to work with different materials from different disciplines, each with their own canon and jargon, as they will attempt to map some spaces, fictional and perhaps some academic, that envision the future in the Arctic or the North, differently.  

Thanks to

We want to give a big thank you to the many participants from the advisory board, the conductors, colleagues, and friends. You stayed in an online meeting for 7 hours, frequently took the microphone to offer your perspectives in a critical and supportive way. We look forward to the next gathering in October.  

Katrin Losleben and Paula R. Mikalsen with Britta Sweers, Angus Carlyle, Elizabeth S. Barron and Silje Gaupseth

Arctic Auditories Tiny Conference

We’re entering the new year with intention and reflection, and on Feb 1-2, we are gathering all our participants, guides, friends, and colleagues to join us for our Tiny Conference. 

Each project member will give a short presentation on their contribution to Arctic Auditories in their respective fields and disciplines, and share some works in progress.

While this full-day event is for our consortium (all the folks from the community involved in the project) only, this blog is dedicated to documenting and informing the public of our activities. So, for those who can’t attend: among our acticities, we’ll delve into methodological discussions on the evolution of soundwalks with one of our guides, we’ll take a look at some field notes, pictures and of course, some audio-materials.  

The first day will conclude with a talk from artist Margrethe Pettersen on her ongoing “Remembering with Rivers” project. The event is open to the public, free and streams on Zoom. Tickets available here.