[ISEA2014] Paper: Jessica Thompson — Mobile Sound and (Re)Making Place


Since the invention of the transistor radio, people have used mobile technologies to create privacy within the public spaces of urban environments. Devices such as iPods and mobile phones enable us to control social interactions in shared spaces – ear buds signal to others that we are listening to music, even when nothing is playing, and moments of social awkwardness can be alleviated by text messages, games and social networks. While it is easy to blame our devices for disconnecting us from the sights and sounds of everyday life, the connections and interactions made possible through pervasive computing enable us to transform our experience of urban life by creating new modes of engagement in, with and through the places where we live, work and play. As we increasingly use our mobile devices to filter, augment and curate everyday interactions, our understanding of ‘place’ has moved from geographic specificity to spatial indeterminacy. Through a discussion of my own practice and other related artworks, I will examine how mobile sound artworks that rely on the body for context can shift the parameters of spatial practice from the body’s position within physical space to the liminal space articulated by the moving body; how broadcasting sound through the body can facilitate new modes of sociality in public spaces; and how these temporary conditions and connections may be explored though networked performance. Video: Audio Mobility

  • Jessica Thompson, CA, is an Assistant Professor in Hybrid Practice in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo. Her practice investigates spatial and social conditions within urban environments through interactive art‑works situated at the intersection of sound, performance and mobile technologies.

Full text (PDF) p. 425-429