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Sounding Out the Space: An International Conference on the Spatiality of Sound


November 2 (Wednesday) 9:00 am - September 4 (Sunday) 6:00 pm


Dublin School of Creative Arts, DIT Grangegorman Campus

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DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin School of Creative Arts, GradCAM.


Event Information


Keynote Speakers

Brandon LaBelle – artist, writer and theorist (Bergan Academy of Art and Design)
Bill Fontana – American artist and composer

Sound is an inherently spatial phenomenon. No matter what its point of origin, be it a musical instrument, a voice, an audio speaker, or another sound-producing entity, sound must navigate space before reaching our ears. On this journey it enters into a complex relational dynamic with the surrounding environment: it may be amplified, distorted, reverberated, dissipated and subject to a multitude of transformations which modify it in different ways. While this dynamic is an intrinsic part of any sonic event, certain artistic endeavours have sought to exploit this spatial aspect of sound as a distinct parameter in its own right. Though spatial experiments have a long history in western music stretching back centuries, the search for novel means of expression in the twentieth century led to an unprecedented investigation into the spatiality of sound as an integral component of the work. From Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet, such concerns have been at the centre of some of the canonic works of musical modernism. In the discipline of sound art, auditory dialogues with the surrounding space have been the defining feature of sound installations by Max Neuhaus, Bernhard Leitner, Maryanne Amacher and others, who have sought to locate sound in relation to architecture. While such work grew out of developments in the wider field of art installation, increasingly the practices of both sound and art installation have converged in the work of artists such as Janet Cardiff and Zimoun forming multi-sensory experiences. Expanding outwards, the multi-site sound installations of Bill Fontana have developed the notion of spatiality across geographical locations while recent innovations in communication and digital technologies have created virtual networks, redefining our conception of space and presenting new possibilities for music, sound art and visual art.

Although substantial research on the spatiality of sound has been carried out within the disciplines of musicology, sound art, and visual art studies, much of this work has remained separate, enclosed within these specialised fields of research. This conference aims to address this imbalance, acknowledging the fluid exchange of ideas between these spheres in actual practice and fostering an interdisciplinary spirit amongst researchers and practitioners. The conference committee thus invites presentations from sound artists, visual artists, composers, academics, and post-graduate researchers which consider the spatiality of sound in all its diverse forms. While the conference remit is broad, the committee especially encourages contributions which address (but need not be limited by) the following three strands:

Sound and Visual Art

  • Contributions from Sound Artists/Visual Artists
  • Convergences between Sound and Visual Art
  • Historical Perspectives
  • Installation
  • Modes of Listening
  • Sound Architectures


Spatial Music

  • Analytical Accounts
  • Attempts at Definition/Theorisation
  • Composer Perspectives
  • History of Spatial Music
  • Listener Perception
  • Performance Challenges
  • The Role of Sound Technologies


Geographic and Virtual Spaces

  • Digital Networks and Communication Technologies
  • Live Streaming and Web-cast
  • Interactivity and Participation


Proposals are invited in the following formats:

  • Individual Papers (20 mins duration plus 10 mins discussion)
  • Joint Papers (max 2 speakers, same format as above)
  • Themed Sessions (3 papers totalling 90 mins or 4 papers totalling 120 mins)
  • Panel and Roundtable Discussions (90 mins, max 6 speakers)


Proposals for individual and joint papers must be in the form of an abstract not exceeding 250 words. Proposals for themed sessions, panels and roundtable discussions should not be more than 800 words and should indicate the number and title of each individual paper with its abstract. Abstracts may be submitted in either a Microsoft Word document or via a PDF attachment. All proposals should include the name, contact details, institutional affiliation (if any), technical requirements, as well as a short biographical note of not more than 100 words of each speaker. The conference language is English. Proposals should be submitted to

All proposals will be subject to a double blind review process by the conference’s scientific committee which is comprised of specialists from the disciplines of sound art, visual art and musicology. Applicants will receive notification as to whether their proposal has been accepted no later than 30 April 2017.

The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2017


Conference Committee

Dr Adrian Smith (Conference Chair)
Dr Kerry Houston (Head of Academic Studies, DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama)
Dr Mark Fitzgerald (Senior Lecturer, DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama)
Dr Noel Fitzpatrick (Dean of Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, DIT)
Dr Brian Fay (Acting Head of School, Dublin School of Creative Arts, DIT)
Martin McCabe (Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, DIT)
Jonathan Nangle (Composer and Senior Lecturer, Royal Irish Academy of Music)

Scientific Committee

Dr Brian Bridges (Ulster University)
Prof Pedro Rebelo (Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast)
Dr Linda O’Keefe (University of Lancaster)
Dr Victor Lazzarini (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Dr Karen Power (University College Cork)
Dr Kerry Hagan (Digital Media and Arts Research Centre, University of Limerick)
Fiona Kearney (Director, Glucksman Gallery, Cork)
Belinda Quirke (Director, Solstice Arts Gallery, Navan)
Jennie Guy (Independent Curator)
Dr Enda Bates (Composer and founding member of the Spatial Music Collective)

For further details please email:



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