Atmosphere of Sound

The Sound of Clouds and other Sonic Memories

Joel Ong

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Since 2015, Joel Ong has been collecting sonic memories through interviews and casual conversations. As part of his Residency with UCLA this summer, Ong turned his attention to sonic memories in the environment, and is collecting these in order to draw attention to fluctuations in the climate observed and remembered through the inter-subjectivities of a diverse group of interviewees. The archive of memories is then audiated/imagined as a musical composition through binaural recordings and electroacoustic processing of field sounds. Where appropriate, each interviewee also provides an image of his/her ears that are then sculpted as closely as possible in clay and included in a binaural recording system. Through this, his project asks – how do we hear through someone else’s ears the same way we may imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes? Might we develop a deeper responsibility to the environment through the conservation of sounds that may be lost, or never again heard because of noisy anthropogenic changes to our soundscapes? How might we attend to the affect within each instance of listening, and create transformative politics of listening?


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Joel Ong: Joel Ong (PhD, MSc.Bioart) is a media artist whose works connect scientific and artistic approaches to the environment. His recent works explore the visibility and audibility of ambient phenomena with a particular focus on the wind and the atmospheric microbiome. His individual and collaborative works have been shown at festivals and galleries internationally such as the Currents New Media Festival, Nuit Blanche Toronto, ISEA, the Seattle Art Museum, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, the Penny Stamps Gallery and the Ontario Science Centre. Joel is an alumni of SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts in Perth, Western Australia, and holds a PhD from DXARTS at the University of Washington. He was a recipient of the Petro-Canada Young Innovators Award in 2020 and is currently an artist with the Biofrictions Creative Europe transdisciplinary research project. He is Assistant Professor in Computational Arts and Director of Sensorium:The Centre for Digital Arts and Technology at York University.


UCLA Art Sci Center’s garden is organized around the themes of our 2024 Getty Pacific Standard Time: Art x Science x LA exhibition, Atmosphere of Sound: Sonic Art in Times of Climate Disruption. Getty Pacific Standard Time Art x Science x LA UCLA Art Sci Center California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center Leonardo ISAST