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