Crafting a sonic urbanism: listening to non-human life

18 Mar 2021

Regular hours

Thu, 18 Mar
09:30 – 19:30

Timezone: Europe/Paris

Free admission


Hosted by: TheatrumMundi

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Lifeforms are active communicators and active agents in the production of urban habitat. They however are rarely considered to have ‘voices’ within the public sphere. How can we be in dialogue with these lifeforms, and how being so can transform our own city-making processes?


For the 2nd year we are collaborating with the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur des enjeux sociaux (IRIS, EHESS) to ask how a focus on sound can open up new questions within city-making, and new ways of addressing those questions. Looking beyond soundscape itself as a product of urban life, we aim to map out contemporary practices that think through sonic concerns to reveal other urban phenomena, and work through sonic methodologies to intervene in them.

Listening to non-human life

For this new edition taking place on Gaîté Lyrique‘s new online platform Plein Écran, we’ve selected 28 participants that will present work and research projects, showing what can be learned by listening beyond human voices to the ways that animals, plants, and indeed other forms of non-human life make themselves heard. In line with the aims of Crafting a Sonic Urbanism, we are interested less in the soundscapes produced by non-human lifeforms as end points in themselves, than we are in how design and research approaches informed by acoustic methodologies might help understand and stimulate interspecies cohabitation in cities.

In an urbanising world, urbanism becomes the study of reality itself, and requires therefore the greatest possible range of means and collaborators for imagining and enacting situations that can sustain both human and non-human life. Buildings and physical infrastructures are not enough – we also need new imaginative and cultural infrastructures to transform cities and the ways we live in them into sustainable habitats for a multitude of species. Currently, the value of ‘nature’ to human life in cities is mostly framed in terms of psychological impact, disaster mitigation (green infrastructures against flooding or overheating, for example), and the creation of spaces for leisure or aesthetic consumption – parks and gardens.

However, the lifeforms used in these ways are not usually considered constituents: non-human lifeforms are rarely considered to have ‘voices’ within the public sphere. They are however active communicators – through sounds, chemical signals, electromagnetic waves and active agents in the production of urban habitat. How can we be in dialogue with these modes of communication and production, and how being so transform our (humans) own city-making processes?

Times shown at CET (Paris)

09.30 – 10.00 — Welcome and opening remarks

John Bingham-Hall
Theatrum Mundi

Arnaud Esquerre

10.00 – 11.30 — NON-HUMAN VOICES

Nuno da Luz 
 Echopolitics for interspecies resistance

Ahmed bin Shabib, Rashid bin Shabib
 Magnetic Reception

Sepideh Karami & Elahe Karimnia 
ESALA, Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture & Theatrum Mundi
 When Parrots of Tehran Confess

Chaired by Lou-Atessa Marcellin


Matt Parker
Oxford Brookes University
 Radiant infrastructure: vibrational tools for communities of electromagnetic resistance

Juan-Guillermo Dumay & Ruth Oldham  
→ Listening to transformer substations: Background noise, fiction, and music

Ms Tsouknida Eirini, Dr Tasos Varoudis, Mr Roberto Botazzi
 Curvilinear Soundscapes

Chaired by Arnaud Esquerre

14.30 – 16.00 — BRIDGING WORLDS 

Nicola Di Croce
Università Iuav di Venezia
 Towards a multi-species sonic ecology

Melissa Van Drie
University of Copenhagen / nxt
 How ‘singing’ bees draw urban humans into an everyday world of interspecies communication

Gascia Ouzounian
University of Oxford
The Sonic rewilding of cities: Listening after Lockdown

Chaired by Justinien Tribillon 

16.15 – 17.45 — DISCUSSION: A trans-species urban society?

Sara Rodrigues

Nastassja Simensky
Slade, UCL

Maria Dominguez, Anjali Nair, Hannah Rose Fox, Miriam Young
Parsons School of Design

Natasha Nicholson
SWCTN and charlick+nicholson architects

Chaired by John Bingham-Hall 

17.45 – 18.00 — Closing remarks 

18.15 – 19.30 — PERFORMANCES

Matilde Meireles (University of Oxford)

Radio gardening in Lagos
Seetal Solanki, Monai de Paula Antunes, Plant Wave, Streetlights Collective, Tushar Hathiramani

Hosted by Gascia Ouzounian

11-18 March — Online exhibition

The State of Things – Porto, 2018
Sara Rodrigues (artist)

Critical Disturbance
Nastassja Simensky (Slade, UCL)

Your Mating Call Is Important To Us: A Sonic Apothecary for Synanthropes
Maria Dominguez, Anjali Nair, Hannah Rose Fox, Miriam Young (Parsons School of Design)

Interspecies intersections: listening in and sounding out new urban narratives
Natasha Nicholson (SWCTN and charlick+nicholson architects)

More-than-human publics
John Bingham-Hall (Theatrum Mundi)


Justinien Tribillon

Gascia Ouzounian

Arnaud Esquerre

Océane Ragoucy

Lou-Atessa Marcellin

John Bingham-Hall

Exhibiting artists

Juan-Guillermo Dumay

Sepideh Karami

Tasos Varoudis

Streetlights Collective

Anjali Nair

Nastassja Simensky

Matt Parker

Nuno da Luz

Ruth Oldham

Sara Rodrigues

John Bingham-Hall

Monai de Paula


Nicola Di Croce

Tsouknida Eirini

Natasha Nicholson

Plant Wave

Hannah Rose Fox

Tushar Hathiramani

Elahe Karimnia

Roberto Botazzi

Ahmed bin Shabib

Melissa Van Drie

Matilde Meireles

Seetal Solanki

Rashid bin Shabib

Miriam Young

Maria Dominguez

Taking part


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