Nonhuman Stereo Network

In February 2017, I took part in a residency at Testing Grounds, Melbourne, with the art collective While the Hour. Testing Grounds is in the middle of the city, on a busy road. The loudness of the environment made it difficult for me to work there, because I was in sensory overload from the moment I arrived on site each day until long after I’d returned home to safety each evening.

Because I couldn’t filter out the environmental noise, I decided to make it the focus of my project. I attempted to notate the noises I heard – the sounds of car engines, construction work, aircraft, squealing tyres, etc. – and compile them into a glossary.

I searched for ways to introduce this mode of sensory experience to human social life. In the end, I settled on creating a kind of un-meeting: an appointed time and place at which people could gather in order to avoid interacting with humans, and focus on nonhumans instead. I created an offline web server, hosted on a Raspberry Pi. People could disconnect from the human web and reconnect to the sensory-social network.

You can download the glossary with introductory essay here.

A hand-drawn Venn diagram depicting a sound at the intersection of two noises.
The flyer I created to advertise the event. The text of the flyer reads:
"You are invited to attend a meeting of the Nonhuman Stereo Network. The meeting will provide you with tools for increasing the density of your present moment, without the usual hassle of having to also increase your moment’s meaning.

The meeting’s speakers are the human-made, non-human noises that you habitually deprioritise in pursuit of life as a normal human being.

There is no need to RSVP. To join the meeting, come to Testing Grounds at the appointed time and look for the instructions posted there.

It is imperative that you do not communicate with any other humans who are attending the meeting."
An image of the webpage hosted on the server, as seen on the screen of a phone. The text on the webpage reads:
"You are invited to join this meeting of the Nonhuman Stereo Network. You are currently connected to the NSN via Wifi. This network is not connected to the internet. This network is accessible solely at this hour and from this geographical location.

The purpose of this meeting is to listen to the human-made nonhuman sounds you usually filter out of your attention in your day to day life. Testing Grounds, with its close proximity to City Road, is rich with these noises - the passing traffic, the low-flying aircraft, and the beeps of reversing trucks and machinery.

The exercises that follow are suggestions to help you step out of your normal human mode and into a different key. Feel free to try some, or all, or even none of them, in any order - whatever works best for you. If you..."