Critical Waves launches at the ICA

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Critical Waves event at the ICA last week. It was great to hear such a variety of takes on the issues of radio, sound and the voice.

Voice as Material panel

After receiving a warm welcome from Astrid Korporaal, the ICA’s Associate Curator of Education Partnerships, and Dr Ben Cranfield from Birkbeck College, we started the morning session, ‘Radio Play: Voice As Material’. First up, sound and radio artist, Magz Hall offered us a glimpse into the politics of the voice, encouraging the audience to consider which voices are often excluded from the airwaves, before showcasing a range of DIY and creative approaches towards radio, which move away from what she referred to as “good voice syndrome”. We heard from sound artist and composer Iris Garrelfs, who shared an insight into her practice with the audience. Explaining her process of producing micro-collages from tiny slithers of audio recordings, Iris encouraged us to consider how literature and other research material might be mapped in an experimental and non-verbal way using sound. The final speaker of the morning, artist and curator, Sam Belinfante explored the voice as a form of contact – something transmitted and received, connected and disconnected – which plays with ideas of interiority and exteriority. After we’d heard from all three speakers, Elizabeth Cetin, PhD candidate at Birkbeck College, fielded questions from the audience, and a lively debate ensued about the ethics of working with the voices of others through sampling and appropriation.

After a well-earned break for lunch, and a chance to meet and chat with our fellow researchers, we returned for the afternoon session, ‘Disembodied Voices: Speaking and Authorship’. Artist and activist Marc Herbst kicked off the presentations, infecting the audience with his enthusiasm through a lively discussion of the bodies that are disembodied by the state. Marc played clips from radio programmes as a way to explore the power relationships enacted by the state through its voice. Next up, artist Aura Satz talked us through some of the ways in which her practice has used audio to displace authorship, allowing for a more mobile idea of where a voice might come from. Sound artist and radio producer, Lance Dann was our final speaker of the day, and he teased out some of the differences between analogue and digital listening, discussing the communal and serendipitous ways that we might tune into the wireless, as well as the podcast’s intimate and direct address. Finally, we rounded off the day with some questions for the speakers, fielded by Claudia Firth, PhD candidate at Birkbeck College. Discussion ranged from podcasts and the runaway success of ‘Serial’; to how audio is affected when it is presented via different technologies and platforms; to the social production of radio stations versus the podcast as an individual pursuit.

Thank you to all our speakers, and to our audience for making it such an engaging and insightful event. We hope that the conversations that were started at the ICA will continue when we reconvene at Birkbeck College in a few weeks time for the next instalment of Critical Waves.

We look forward to seeing you all there!



Critical Waves at the ICA, Thursday 26 March, 10.45 – 16.00

We’re looking forward to welcoming participants in Critical Waves to the ICA next week. In the meantime, here is a timetable of the day’s events…

Cinema 2, Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH

This one-day conference will hear leading artists, academics and curators consider a variety of different approaches to working with and thinking about the voice and radio.

10.45am – 11am         Registration

 11am – 1pm                Session 1, Radio Play: Voice as Material’

This session is aimed at showcasing how the voice can be used as a creative material. Voices can be edited, manipulated, cut up, overlaid or juxtaposed. What they express is inflected by pauses, stutters, pitch and volume. How do different methods of working with voices enhance or disrupt the content that they communicate? How can technology shape voices and affect their messages? Presentations from: Sam Belinfante, artist and curator; Iris Garrelfs, artist; Magz Hall, artist and senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. Followed by a panel discussion and questions from the floor.

1 – 2pm                       Lunch              A light lunch will be provided for participants

2 – 4pm                       Session 2, ‘Disembodied Voices: Speaking and Authorship’

This session considers authorship in relation to the disembodied voices that we encounter through radio. What are the ethics of speaking with someone else’s voice or representing the voices of others, which are encountered when using ‘found’ audio material and interviews? How are meaning and authority affected by fictional as opposed to documentary voices? What does it mean to have a voice without a body? And does a sense of invisibility alter what we’re prepared to say? Presentations from: Lance Dann, Commissioning Editor for Resonance FM; Marc Herbst, artist and co-editor of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest; Aura Satz, artist. Followed by a panel discussion and questions from the floor.

See you there!

Welcome to Critical Waves

Having put out our call for participants, we were thrilled that so many of you applied to take part in the Critical Waves events at the ICA and Birkbeck College. We could have filled the places more than twice over, with applicants hailing from almost forty universities. This left us with some tough decisions as we tried to whittle down the applications to the final selection.

The events now look set to bring together a dynamic group of researchers working in a wide variety of disciplines. Participants’ research topics range from science fiction to Morris dancers, punks to the police, archives to anger, to name but a few.

The speakers for the ICA event are now confirmed, and we are delighted to welcome such a great line up. The first panel ‘Radio Play: The Voice as Material’ will feature presentations from: Sam Belinfante, artist and curator; Iris Garrelfs, artist; Magz Hall, artist and senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. The second panel, ‘Disembodied Voices: Speaking and Authorship’ will hear from: Lance Dann, Commissioning Editor for Resonance FM; Marc Herbst, artist and co-editor of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest; Aura Satz, artist.

We are in the process of finalising the schedule for the day at the ICA and hope to get that out to everyone next week. In the meantime, we look forward to meeting you all on Thursday 26th March.

Call for Participants

Are you a postgraduate research student or early career researcher interested in exploring the experimental potential of radio in academic research?

Critical Waves aims to inspire creative approaches to academic research through an innovative series of talks and events, in person and on air, delivered by Birkbeck College in partnership with the ICA and Resonance 104.FM.

The internet and streaming technology have propelled us into a new era of radio. Recording devices on laptops and phones, free online audio-editing software, podcasts and internet-radio mean that producing and broadcasting radio content has never been easier. Drawing upon radio’s legacy as a forum for radical thought and experimentation, Critical Waves explores the potential of radio in academic research today.

There are 35 places available for current post-graduate research students and early career researchers to attend two days of talks and workshops taking place at the ICA and Birkbeck College in March and April 2015, which will offer inspiration and advice on radio production. Both events are free to attend and a light lunch will be provided.

In response to the events participants will be expected to independently produce their own short radio programmes based on elements of their research. The programmes will be archived here on the Critical Waves blog and a selection will be showcased on air on Resonance 104.4FM.

Critical Waves at the ICA, Thursday 26th March 2015 11am – 4pm

This conference aims to inspire researchers to consider strategies for presenting their research that are more innovative than simply reading conference papers aloud. Artists and academics will discuss how they use the voice as a creative material in their work, touching on how the voice can enhance or disrupt content, the politics of the voice and authorship, and what it might mean to speak with someone else’s voice.

Speakers include artists Sam Belinfante, Iris Garrelfs, Magz Hall, Marc Herbst and Aura Satz, amongst others.

Critical Waves at Birkbeck College, Monday 20th April 2015 10am – 4pm

Following the more theoretical day of presentations at the ICA, this day of workshops and discussions considers radio’s importance today and offers practical advice on how to translate research into exciting radio content. Speakers will describe their experiences of transforming academic research into radio shows, and workshops and technical advice will help get participants ready to independently produce their own short programmes.

Speakers include: Tim Markham, Head of Media and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College;  Juliette Kristensen, academic and producer of Paperweight Radio; Emily Candela design historian and producer of Atomic Radio; amongst others.

Critical Waves on Resonance 104.4FM, May- June 2015 (date tbc)

In response to the events at Birkbeck and the ICA participants will be encouraged to independently produce their own ten-minute radio programmes based on elements of their research. All the programmes will be made available online, and a curated selection will be showcased on Resonance 104.4FM during two live radio conversations led by conference participants.

 Join us!                                                                                                                             

By attending Critical Waves applicants will have the opportunity to consider how radio can benefit their research, and how they can communicate their work engagingly to non-specialist audiences. They will be supported through the process of developing an idea for a radio programme out of their own research and introduced to the basic skills that they will need to produce it. All participants will be strongly encouraged to independently produce a short radio programme; those who do so will be given the opportunity to showcase their research on Resonance 104.4FM, as well as having a new resource to promote their research.

To apply please submit a 100-word statement explaining why you are interested in attending Critical Waves, detailing your institution (if any, for early career researchers) and if you are in receipt of an AHRC-funded studentship.

A limited number of places will be prioritised for students funded by AHRC studentships.

Send applications to

Deadline for applications is Monday 2nd March 2015

N.B. Successful applicants are expected to commit to attending the events at both the ICA and Birkbeck, and to independently producing a 10-minute podcast on an element of their research.