Call for Participants

Make an effort to exhaust the subject, even if that seems grotesque, or pointless, or stupid. You still haven’t looked at anything, you’ve merely picked out what you’ve long ago picked out. (Georges Perec; Species of Spaces; 1974)


In 2008 Felicity Ford and Paul Whitty set up a project with the aim of recording everyday life in sound – to resist the overwhelming tide of visual images of the everyday and to meet it with the abundant soundings of vending machines, luggage carousels, toasters, escalators, boilers, garden sheds and wheeled luggage. They followed the writer Georges Perec’s instruction to exhaust the subject, not to be satisfied with a cursory glance, not to be satisifed to have identified what you already know – what you have already heard – but to look again or in our case to listen, to keep listening, to listen long after it would probably have been more sensible to stop. That project was Sound Diaries. The premise has been that the sound made by a dishwasher cycle is likely to reveal more to us about our society and culture than the sound of the extraordinary, of the organised sound of music.

Sound Diaries expands awareness of the roles of sound and listening in daily life. Exploring the cultural and communal significance of sounds, and hasformed a research basis for projects executed both locally and Internationally, in Beijing, Brussels, Tallinn, rural Estonia and Cumbria; within local institutions in Oxford including Schools; and within cultural organisations such as Sound and Music and BBC Radio.

Call for participants:

Sound Diaries are looking for participants to document the sounds of everyday life and to contribute to a public event and publication marking ten years of the project.

We are interested in everyday sounds and sounding contexts from cutlery drawers to bus stops to self-service checkouts. Potential participants will need to submit:

  • A proposal (500 words maximum). The proposal should outline the work you hope to make during your time working with sound diaries. If you are at an early stage of your career you may like to explain why this project would be of particular benefit to your practise and current development. It is likely that the proposal will include detail of the context in which you intend to work, the nature of the sound material that you will collect and the methods you will use for collection.
  • A brief CV (maximum one side of A4, 11pt type)
  • Links (maximum 5) to relevant creative and documentary projects or sound files.

Projects can take many forms but should focus on documentary recording of everyday sound. This could be sound from your own everyday or from another context that you want to investigate. It might help to look at some existing Sound Diaries projects. For example Get Rid! An investigation of the everyday sounding culture of grassroots football; the Berlin Sound Diary a document of the everyday sounds of travel; or the UK Soundmap Sonic Time Capsule.

The deadline for application is February 28th 2019 at 23.00. Successful applicants will be invited to attend a seminar at the audiograft festival in Oxford on March 16th to discuss their project ideas.

Project Support:

  • Materials and Expenses budget £250ea
  • Travel expenses and accommodation to attend the seminar at audiograft festival (March 16th).
  • Travel and expenses to attend project publication launch event (July 2019).
  • Project Publication (3 x copies per participant).
  • Mentoring from the Sound Diaries team if appropriate.

What Sound Diaries will expect from you:

  • Sound files for publication on sound-diaries.co.uk
  • A text or images as appropriate to your work investigating the context of your project and the methods used in collecting the sound material (Maximum 750 words/ten research images, sketches, diagrams).
  • A presentation of your project at the final event in July 2019.

If you have any questions please get in touch with pwhitty@brookes.ac.uk and patrickwilliamfarmer@googlemail.com. Final submissions should be emailed to pwhitty@brookes.ac.uk by 23.00 on February 28th 2019.