Machine Listening Event Legal Otologies | Hear Law Sound Westminster Law & Theory Lab 5 December 2023

Legal Otologies | Hear Law Sound is a series of residencies at the Westminster Law & Theory Lab, Westminster Law School, University of Westminster, hosted by Julia Chryssostalis and Dr Danilo Mandic. The residencies provide a platform through which to examine the ear in law – its structures, functions, practices, lexicons and locations – and more generally the legal register of the aural and the auditory in its relation to sound.


Established in 2020 by artist-researchers Sean Dockray, James Parker, and Joel Stern, Machine Listening is a platform for collaborative research and artistic experimentation, focused on the political and aesthetic dimensions of the computation of sound and speech. The collective works across diverse media and modes of production. In addition to research, writing, and artworks, Machine Listening have produced an expanded curriculum, conceived as an experiment in collective learning and community formation; an online library and interview series; numerous on-and-offline events, lectures, performances; and, a browser-based instrument for composing with audio and video via text.

This evening program will be in two parts: a workshop and a listening session, both led by James Parker of the Machine Listening collective. All are welcome, for one or both sessions.

See ticket link here.

Note: we will be using the entrance on 4-12 Little Titchfield Street W1W 7BY for this event!

Why listen to datasets? (4-5.30pm)

You open a dataset, click on a file and hear a person cough three times. You click on another one, hear a voice counting from one to twenty. You notice an accent but you can’t place it. The next file is labelled ‘oooo.wav’, and the one after that ‘YAF_voice_sad.wav’ What are these recordings? Why were they made? What can they tell us about the datasets of which they are a part, and their uses? In this experimental workshop, participants will listen to datasets as sites of both power and possibility, critique and creativity. Moving between conversation and a series of listening tests, we will consider how auditory datasets are compiled, stored, and processed, and how different modes of listening might reveal a world of social relations embedded within.

Environments 12 (6-7pm)

Commissioned for the exhibition WILD HOPE: Conversations for a Planetary Commons (RMIT Design Hub), Environments 12 is a new, speculative addition to the once-popular Environments series: a sequence of 11 records released between 1969 and 1979 that anticipated a mass-market in mood-altering nature recordings. The work takes the form of a multi-channel audio installation, presenting a world in which the environment itself has been updated. In this world, the reproduction, synthesis and management of soundscapes has become ubiquitous and planetised. Loudspeakers and microphones are laced through the biosphere, all in the name of a cybernetic ecology.

Unfolding across a series of historical, contemporary, and speculative scenes, the work is narrated by an ensemble of vocal performers and their generative voice clones. Together, this more-than-human chorus tells and retells stories of ‘psychologically ultimate seashores’, reef lullabies, natural symphonies designed for zoo enclosures, and large language models for whales and crows. A collection of songs and fables recovered from the ruins of a future history.

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