Joel Stern, Sean Dockray, and James Parker presenting 'Machine Listening Songbook'
Joel Stern, Sean Dockray, and James Parker presenting 'Machine Listening Songbook'

ADM+S Artists Residency at Unsound Festival, Poland

Author  Natalie Campbell
Date 31 October 2023

On 1-8 October 2023, ADM+S members Dr Joel Stern, Assoc Prof James Parker and collaborator Dr Sean Dockray, presented a series of artworks, workshops and performances as part of their Machine Listening residency at the prestigious Unsound Festival in Kraków, Poland.

Machine Listening was established in 2020, just before the pandemic. The project agenda set out to use collaborative study and resistance to develop strategies for changing how we interact with machine listening. As lockdown ensued and the world moved online, so did the project.

“There were positive elements to this, as we curated Zoom performance programs, commissioned online artworks and lectures, built a Machine Listening Curriculum on our website, conducted interviews, and connected with artists and researchers around the world.”

Unsound, a highly influential music and arts festival based in Kraków, Poland, supported the project from it’s inception, co-presenting several online Machine Listening programs between 2020 and 2022, in partnership with Australian organisation Liquid Architecture.

In early 2023, the Machine Listening team received an invitation to present their works at Unsound, where audiences could experience their artworks and installations in-person, in shared space and time.

“Operating out of an apartment in the historical Kazimierz district in the old city, we spent the week of the festival installing, presenting, discussing, and performing works for enthusiastic and critically engaged audiences and peers from Poland and around the world.”

The teams first presentation was a sound installation, After Words, originally commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in 2022. The work comprises several semi-fictional tales exploring how we speak-to and perform-for listening machines, and what is happening to language as a result.

ADM+S researchers Mark Andrejevic, Thao Phan, and Jake Goldenfein feature as performers in the piece, which was presented in Kraków at the Cricoteka Museum.

The residency concluded with Machine Listening Songbook, a series of performances and audio-visual interventions that deployed experimental software designed by Sean Dockray, and AI-generated voice clones reciting historical works of Dada poetry.

“This trip to Kraków meant that our Machine Listening work was circulated alongside prominent artists and researchers from around the world at the intersection of music, art and AI,” said Dr Stern.

“Having the opportunity to share our own work in this context was incredibly valuable and rewarding and provided a great deal of validation and encouragement to further develop the project, in whatever unforeseen directions it may take.”

Machine Listening (Joel Stern, James Parker, Sean Dockray) were supported by ADM+S to develop and present their work at Unsound Festival.


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