Young Scholars in New Music | Tim Shaw /// Sound art

di Giulia Sarno

[Young Scholars in New Music è una rubrica dedicata a giovani studiosi e studiose e alle loro ricerche in corso o appena concluse. Per segnalare le proprie ricerche mandare un mail con oggetto “Young Scholars” a con una brevissima biografia e un abstract del lavoro che si intende presentare]

[Young Scholars in New Music is a column dedicated to young scholars and their current or recent researches. To submit your research, please send an email (subject line: “Young Scholars”) to with a short biography and an abstract of the work you wish to present]


Tim Shaw is both a researcher and an artist working with sound, light and communication media. Presenting work through musical performances, installations and sound walks, Tim is interested in how listening environments can be constructed or explored using a diverse range of techniques and technologies. He currently works as a Lecturer in Digital Media at Culture Lab and Fine Art, Newcastle University, where he completed his PhD thesis in 2018. 

Tim Shaw considers digital and analogue media to be an artistic material. Sometimes, with artworks that involve digital technology, digital media is preferenced as a medium for presentation and not necessarily engaged with as part of the artistic process. Shaw is drawn to artistic methods involving digital technology which value process over production, a process which has included collaborating and communicating with ecological systems, infrastructures, animals, earth minerals and other human and non-human actors. In particular he is interested in developing work which explores the relationship between digital technologies, networked topologies and urban spaces and how human and non-human entities can interact with one another within this space.

© I Hate Flash

For the past 10 years Shaw has developed a number of techniques and technologies to collaborate and communicate with non-human entities. For example he has built mechanisms to listen into the sound-worlds of insects, broadcast radio through trees, listened to network latency through time stretching bells, extracted musical material from rocks, collaborated with animals, tracked gestures from plants and sensed minute phenomenological changes in a diversity of environments. By building instruments to communicate with these participants, through extending his own perceptual reach, he is able to make artwork in response to their activity and open up channels of communication between plants, animals, minerals and the ecosystems they co-inhabit. Collaboration with humans is also central to his approach, Tim has made artistic work with Phill Niblock, Chris Watson, Dirty Electronics, Tetsuya Umeda and John Bowers. He has also collaborated with Medieval Musicologists, Geologists, Geographers and Astrophysicists on various artistic projects.

Shaw’s doctoral thesis examined, through creative practice, the role of recording technology in the presentation of sound art. To support his research he drew on three pieces of self-made work, a sound walk (Ambulation) , a musical performance (Murmurate) and a sound installation (Ring Network) . Through multiple presentations of these works he practically explored how the making and presentation of sound art can coexist. In field recording practice, for example, the act of making the recording is often separated from the presentation event. A recordist goes to an environment, makes a recording and then takes it back to their studio to edit or process it. In Ambulation, a sound walk he made as part of his doctoral study, he worked with the act of field recording as a live, procedural event, inviting audiences into the making process. The composition was built using the environmental sounds they moved through, a live improvisation with the immediate environment. The making and presentation of this work are folded into one another, they can occur at the same time. Shaw’s research is conducted by being an active performer and maker, to him making is thinking, and he draws on Tim Ingold’s idea of thinking through making as a research methodology

Shaw continues to present work internationally. You can keep up to date with his current research-practice here:

© Bruno Mello

Further reading:

Tim Shaw, Listening Through Making: Artistic approaches to sound, technology and field recording, PhD thesis (supervisors: John Bowers and Pete Wright), School of Arts and Cultures, University of Newcastle, 2019.

Young Scholars in New Music | Tim Shaw /// Sound art ultima modifica: 2020-10-13T09:17:00+02:00 da Giulia Sarno

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