New edition: ‘Acoustic Cities: London & Beirut’


In a city in which noise can often be all-encompassing, how can we find ways to listen to things that are hidden, stories that are unheard, and forms of life at risk of disappearing?

We are excited to launch a new Optophono edition which sounds out the spatial traces of memories, cultures, and bodies ingrained into the physical fabric of cities.

Acoustic Cities: London & Beirut is a collection of works by Joan Baz, John Bingham-Hall, Gerard Gormley, Nathalie Harb, Omaya Malaeb, Nadim Mishlawi, Merijn Royaards, Youmna Saba, Mhamad Safa, and Christabel Stirling.

Each of the works encodes a methodology for listening and making audible things that have otherwise been hidden or silent - whether through activating spaces acoustically, listening technologically beyond the surface of the daily lifeworld, asking for testimonies otherwise unspoken.

The works offer listeners ways of hearing the richness of their acoustic environments, and language to challenge its problems. In doing so they help to frame sound as a shared concern and a shared resource to design and to benefit from.


Please join us for launch events in Beirut and London:

• Thursday 25 April, 6 PM-9 PM, Sursock Museum, Beirut. Free entry. Following an immersive programme of works from the edition, Joan Baz, Merijn Royaards, Mhamad Safa, and Christabel Stirling will discuss their pieces.

• Wednesday 15 May, 5.30-7.30 PM, Bloomsbury Theatre, London. Free entry. BOOK HERE.

Refreshments will be served at these events. All are welcome.


Acoustic Cities: London & Beirut is a collaboration between Institute for Global Prosperity UCL, Recomposing the City, the RELIEF Centre, Theatrum Mundi, and Optophono.

It follows on from Recomposing the City and Theatrum Mundi’s 2017 exploratory workshop ‘Uban sound and the Politics of Memory’. It forms part of the RELIEF Centre’s Cultural Committee programme, which began work on sound in 2018 with ‘Beirut Soundscape’.

Announcing Interactive FLUX Edition: String Quartet by Spencer Topel

Optophono is proud to announce a physical limited-edition album in the form of an HD audio interface allowing listeners to interactively mix between a purely acoustic and live-electronic versions of String Quartet (2016) by artist/composer Spencer Topel. String Quartet is performed by the acclaimed US-based FLUX Quartet and recorded and mastered by Jacobs-Well Mastering Studio. The composition is divided into three movements, each exploring canonical live-electronic techniques for acoustic string instruments. Conceived as an expression of two parallel sonic universes,  the listener is encouraged to navigate and mix these musical spaces in real-time. The effect is one of rich counterpoint, where the line between real/electronic and performer/listener is reimagined. 

Please look out for this very special edition in Summer 2019!

Mockup for  STRING QUARTET  by Spencer Topel. Image by Spencer Topel © 2018

Mockup for STRING QUARTET by Spencer Topel. Image by Spencer Topel © 2018

Launch: Constructing a River


Optophono is thrilled to announce the launch of 'Constructing a River' by Matilde Meireles and Chrysoula Draraki. The project, which is published as a book, a set of postcards, and audio recordings, explores the construction of the River Lagan in Belfast. For the launch event the artists have invited Paul Stapleton to improvise to Matilde Meireles' 'Constructing a River' composition with his custom-made metallic Tromba Marina. The location of the event, the highly resonant Lagan Weir, offers a unique experience.

Please note: the Lagan Weir is normally closed to the public, and tickets are very limited (only 30 seats). We recommend booking early to avoid disappointment. Ticket information in event page.



The Constructing a River project page will be published on Optophono on 29 September.

OAZE in the press

OAZE, an interactive sound map of an imaginary island by Una Lee, has been receiving some well-deserved love in the international press.

Check out these features on: The Island Review (UK), Artwort (Italy), Gooood (China), and Creative Boom (UK). 


What gave you the idea to create OĀZE?

It all began with sound maps. Since I learned of their existence, I always wanted one of my own. They reveal interesting connections between geography and the sound of places, letting us listen in and imagine what it is like to be there. They let us daydream - what a lovely thing.

Yet as the dreamer I am, being tied to one real region – be it a small town or the whole globe – seemed limiting. I also felt that something was missing in the sound maps I was listening to, which after a considerable amount of reflection on my part turned out to be the aspect of time.

Most sound maps hail from one particular time, which could potentially lead to the misunderstanding that the recording should represent that specific place forever. But for me soundscapes are absolutely ephemeral, fluid and evanescent.

For OĀZE I went around the subject by integrating the passage of time within a fixed visual topography, and blending in the life story of a person through the introduction of one fragment or chapter at each time and place.

The island stands for an entity that is whole on its own and self-sufficient; an independent piece of land holding a person’s entire life, like memories are contained within a body, and sound recordings in a sound map. This is also why I wanted the work to be download-based as opposed to an online map, so that it can exist in its own terms as an absolute thing. 


An installation view of OAZE at the ' Territoires Familiers  ?'  exhibit in Paris, April 2018. Photo by Huayra Llanque. ©2018

An installation view of OAZE at the 'Territoires Familiers?' exhibit in Paris, April 2018. Photo by Huayra Llanque. ©2018

Optophono projects exhibited at Espace Niemeyer in Paris

The exhibition 'Territoires Familiers?', curated by Huayra Llanque at Espace Niemeyer in Paris, will feature Optophono projects by the artists Matilde Meireles and Una Lee. The exhibition will run from 10-27 April 2018.

Espace Niemeyer, a National Heritage site designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, holds the distinction of being the Paris HQ of the Parti communiste française.


Llanque writes of the exhibition:

When in 1999 the artist Mona Hatoum created the installation Home, she questioned everyday space, and placed us between intimacy and geopolitical situation. Kitchen utensils made of metal, arranged on a worktop, become the conductive elements of an electrical circuit. This one draws a palpable demarcation line and gives a familiar universe a threatening character. From this everyday image, broader questions are involved.

Today, this installation is the trigger for a conversation imagined between graphic works, or sound, photographs, sculptures, on the occasion of the exhibition Familiar Territories? , at the Espace Niemeyer. Usual objects or familiar images constitute a universe and sometimes structure our places of life. Repeated gestures draw in their own way playgrounds or territories. The exhibition proposes to look at artistic practices that question these familiar terrains, through different media. The works take place inside the Espace Niemeyer, which houses meeting places, spaces for passage and exchange.

Marked by a singular architecture and history, Espace Niemeyer is located at Place du Colonel Fabien, at the junction of several neighborhoods in eastern Paris. Many people rub shoulders daily with the building, known in particular for its white dome that rises from the ground and awakens the imaginary. The exhibition Familiar territories? proposes an exploration inside the building where the curved walls, the inclined planes, the sloping ground jostle our landmarks.