locus sonus > audio in art
Lab 2007/2009: Julien Clauss, Alejandro Duque, Scott Fitzgerald, Jérôme Joy, Anne Roquigny, Peter Sinclair.
 contact: info (at)


October 17, 2008


edited by JÉRÔME JOY, Locus Sonus – audio in art, Sonic Research Lab

(in progress - May'08 / ...)

(temporary introduction before english corrections)

This timeline aims to provide an overview of the principal events and projects in the realm of networked music and networked sonic performances since the beginning of the XX° century. The overview covers various domains and types of events : technologies and softwares, forward thinking literature, musicology & ethnomusicology, sound anthropology and history of communication, contemporary music to soundart. Most of the entries, such as events, works and technologies, have a short description. The historical timeline is complemented with an alphabetical list of scientific papers and publications. In order to ensure that this timeline and list are continuously updated, the document is available as a contributive file and resource for researchers and artists.

This timeline stems from previous research. It began seven years ago concerning itself with the ‘organology of netmusic’ and theorical frameworks of in-progress projects on the Internet. The current iteration has been launched at the occasion of the 2008 Locus Sonus research report and now takes part in the research of the lab by opening a documentary and critic corpus for projects and for the community of searchers, students and artists. It has been fed too by parallel studies developed in recent years within Locus Sonus concerning remote sound recording and playing, open mikes of the Locustream project, and ‘geotagged’ sound projects.

If networked music is historically locatable, we must probe its definition in front of the modifications it implies with regard to interpretation, organology, listening practices, and composition compared with the investigations led with technologies. Secondly we must clarify and distinguish the characteristics of networked systems in the frameworks of instrumental and electronic/electroacoustic music interpretation and music composition. This investigation could open new studies and analysis around these topics and offer to explore recent and today nodes of research and artistic practices. We certainly are at the beginning of an era for music with the development of live music collaborations over the Internet, and at the same time we must continue to question historical concepts and to elucidate new problems that progressively occur within the artists’ and audiences’ practices, implied in the relations between music and technologies, as well as sociological changes.

The general idea is to study the built and in-progress environments and fields of inter-connected and correlated sonic spaces and temporalities, like living “eco-milieus” which enhance group creativity. Historically constituted by various and intersected sources, the fields of networked sound exhibits a continuous art fabric directly connected to social environments via the exploration of technics and technologies, and the site-specific and time-specific experiences of perception and action at a distance. The specifity of networks permits realtime interactions and connections between locations, and modifies the perceptions and practices of spaces and times. The concepts of ‘distance’ and ‘remote/local’ - as well as ‘permanence’, ‘audiences’, ‘acousmatic’, ‘co-op systems’, etc. - are paramount in this specificity that explores the soniferous and musical state of networks.

2002 Golo Föllmer “Making Music on the Net, social and aesthetic structures in participative music”; 2002 Nathan Schuett “The Effects of Latency on Ensemble Performance”; 2003 Jörg Stelkens “Network Synthesizer”; 2003 Gil Weinberg “Interconnected Musical Networks: Bringing Expression and Thoughtfulness to Collaborative Music”; 2006 Álvaro Barbosa “Displaced Soundscapes”; 2007 Alain Renaud & Pedro Rebelo “Networked Music Performance - State of the Art”.

Since 2000, some relevant papers and texts have been released related to the Networked Music topic (note1), and at the same time various approaches of a definition of Networked Music were developed :

“KromoZone : a platform for networked multimedia Performance”, Stephan Moore & Timothy A. Place, Proceedings of the International Conference “Music without Walls? Music Without Instruments?”, De Montfort University, Leicester, 2001

  • networked performance occurs whenever a performer’s instrument receives input from a source other than the performer himself or herself, or the performer’s instrument behavior is modified by an outside influence. (Stephan Moore & Timothy A. Place) (note2)

“In one sense, almost all music is networked music: whenever musicians play together, their eyes and ears are connected by a complex, real-time network of aural and visual signals that have a tremendous impact on what they play and how they play it. And musicians are usually part of a second network as well, which connects them back to the composer who created the score and the listeners who hear the performance (or a recording of it). That formulation, of course, is too broad to be particularly useful. So here is a more restricted version: networked music is music in which we consciously manipulate, transform, or mediate the connections between performing musicians and/or between the composer, performers, and listeners.” (Jason Freeman)

  • music practice situations where traditional aural and visual connections between participants are augmented, mediated or replaced by electronically-controlled connections. (Jason Freeman) (note3)

“Networked Sonic Spaces”, Jérôme Joy, Peter Sinclair, Locus Sonus, ICMC’08, SARC Belfast, 2008.

  • the expression “networked” commonly implies a multi-site distribution of permanent points of transmission and of reception and realtime simultaneous interactions between sites : remote sonic captations and remote acoustics, interconnections between physical and virtual places, and a distributed collective of players. (Locus Sonus) (note4)

“Network Performance: Strategies and Applications”, Alain Renaud, Pedro Rebelo, SARC Belfast, NIME’06.

  • in the same vein, distributed ensembles : a distributed ensemble consists of a group of musicians that is distributed between two or more locations. Whereas standard ensemble performance relies on a common acoustic space between performer and audience, distributed ensemble performances need to take into account the superimposition of acoustic spaces : remote acoustics, remote soundscapes, networked laptop improvisation (Alain Renaud & Pedro Rebelo) (note5)

This could involved a palette of other aspects :

- Public, shared and distributed audiences, and practices of listening
(“Media without an audience” by Eric Kluitenberg, “Singing without Being Together - juxtaposed music for an invisible public” by Dana Rappoport.).

- Networks as an instrument and a musical resource
(“The Internet, a musical instrument in perpetual flux” by Netochka Nezvanova, the concept of net-organology we try to develop on our side, “The Environment as a Musical Resource” by Bill Fontana, “The World as an Instrument” by Francisco Lopez.).

- Interconnections of spaces
(“The use of remote acoustics and the idea of exchanging acoustic spaces suggests the network acting as an extension of a closed acoustic space. The combination of several geographically displaced acoustic spaces is only possible in a networked situation.” “Network Performance : Strategies and Applications” by Alain Renaud and Pedro Rebelo.).

- Internal technical conditions and constraints of networks : realtime, synchronicity, latency, delays, bandwiths, sound quality, echo feedbacks, ...
(“Telematic Music - restrictions and Advantages Compared to Traditional One-Site Music Events”, Jonas Braasch, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ICMC’08, SARC Belfast, 2008.).

- Social creativity, interactions, collaborations and facilitators involved in collective systems of attention
(“Facilitating Collective Musical Creativity”Atau Tanaka, CultureLab, University of Newcastle.).

- Live collaborations over the Internet and telepresence.

The first part of this study gathers references in literature, philosophy, history of telecommunications and early visions by composers in Music and artists. This offers a comparison, by going back and forth between the experiments and realizations in technology and the utopias described in literature or imagined in musical composition and in arts. This includes some references to science fiction literature.

In order to give important marks in the historical, societal and technological contexts, the second part concerns a chronological list of works, festivals, public events in music and soundart, and some main references in theoretical studies (aesthetics, philosophy, art criticism) and in other artistic practices such as digital arts. Each entry is classified with the work’s title, the name(s) of the author(s), elements relating to the context of realization, urls of related websites, and a description of the work. This covers various domains beyond the scope of the primary ones, networked music and sound art on networks, to encompass areas of intersect between networks (net communities, social networking), communication (broad- and narrow-casting), sound (field recording, audio and sonic geotag systems and processes), performance and technologies.

This part will probe and reference art movements throughout the XX° century, pointing out practical and theoretical aspects involved in notions like Conceptual Art (location, duration), Minimal Art and AntiForm (extra-visual and new perceptions), LandArt and site-specific art, Performance Art and Process Art, Contextual Art and Relational Aesthetics, etc. This will insert essential concepts issued from theoretical and philosophical reflections, questioning our relation to technologies and socio-technical environments, approaching fundamental nodes such as hybridization, machinism, device/apparatus, and so on. The intention is to start the questioning of the networking culture within a controversy related to the culture of representation, existing since the beginning of the 60s. The (hyper-)mediatization, changeability and multiplication of technical prothesis are coming from a slow and progressive shift within our life and culture. Today, the remarkable delicacy of our relationship to technology wavers between euphoria and fatalism, from blind faith to neo-luddism, a continuous negative mistrust. We should continue to build communal networks (social circuits) and encourage a pliable social fabric, in a deliberate and aware manner out of this orthodoxy of proselytism and terror, passiveness and fickleness. These controversies show the vitality of this debate and the necessity to be involved in these questions. Our initiative is to take hold of these debates and perspectives, and to help to shift questions and viewpoints through this timeline by illustrating convergences, meetings and crossings in a wider view in art and theoretical practices, social contexts, and technological developments.

The third part contains a list of reference papers, proceedings of international conferences and books.

Entry descriptions span out of quotes belonging to original sources (websites, books, papers, conferences, comments, etc.). Credits to authors and researchers are associated each description. One can browse the Timeline in the style of a linear reading of a text file or via a search feature through keywords. The Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline will grow step by step thanks to its shared, open and dynamic structure, it will evolve from a text file (pdf file download) to conform a fruitful resource accessible to an even wider community.

(The development of this Timeline has began within the Locus Sonus lab and was initiated in the framework of research collaborations and projects : Eu-phonic (with SARC Belfast, CRiSAP University of Arts of London, CultureLab University of Newcastle, IRCAM Paris, STEIM Amsterdam), School of the Art Institute of Chicago SAIC (PUF franco-american program), and with a pool of contributors - researchers and artists - in order to complete this first version of the Timeline.)

The Timeline is currently in-progress. A beta version will release at the end of October'08. The structure of this next release will be a blog associated to a graphical chronological feature. Before being a publicly contributive resource, a pool of artists and experts will be gathered to improve, correct and complete the inputs of the Timeline.

Description of the project's development

The development of this Timeline has began within the Locus Sonus lab and was initiated in the framework of research collaborations and projects : Eu-phonic (with SARC Belfast, CRiSAP University of Arts of London, CultureLab University of Newcastle, IRCAM Paris, STEIM Amsterdam, etc.), School of the Art Institute of Chicago SAIC (PUF franco-american program), and with a pool of contributors - researchers and artists - in order to complete this first version of the Timeline.
Contributing additions (preview list) : Alvaro Barbosa, John Bischoff, Samuel Bordreuil, Angus Carlyle, Andrea Cera, Chris Chafe, AnnMarie Chandler, Nicolas Collins, Jean Cristofol, Paul DeMarinis, William Duckworth, Alejo Duque, Golo Föllmer, Bastien Gallet, Peter Gena, Andrew Gerszo, Manuel Gottschieg, JoAnne Green, Ralf Homann, GH Hovagymian, Christophe Kihm, Tetsuo Kogawa, Brandon Labelle, Pauline Oliveros, Pedro Rebelo, Alain Renaud, Jocelyn Robert, Atau Tanaka, Dante Tanzi, Helen Thorington, Peter Traub, Mark Trayle.
And the members of Locus Sonus collaborative projects : PUF SAIC-Aix-Nice TransatLab project (Brett Ian Balogh, Robb Drinkwater, Ben Chang, Eric Leonardson, ...), members of the european EU-PHONIC program, members of ArtistsMeeting Group NYC, members of Locus Sonus Lab / Sonotorium / DropBox, ...

The development of this Timeline has began past May with successive versions of a text file by gathering and organizing entries with 3 chapters :
- 3. REFERENCES PAPERS (in alphabetical order)

The entries were grabbed on the Internet by using searchbots and within various books & scientific papers. Each item was presented and indexed with the year, the name of the author(s), the description and quotes, the resource (url, bibliography). The full text is currently circa 370 pages.
In order to offer a readable and useful resource, various steps are previewed :
- 1. to transfer the database on a blog
- 2. opening of a international board with invited researchers and artists (preview list)
- 3. development of board collaborative tools (mailing-lists, ...)
- 4. corrections, additional entries, etc., by the board
- 5. development of search tools and graphical interface (timeline interface) in order to facilitate search and navigation within the database
- 6. timeline features : printing, media insertions, etc.
- 7. opening of the public on-line database & timeline
- 8. contributive additional feature by public and readers : new entries, annotations, footnotes, etc.

The first beta version will release in October 08, with the help of the Locus Sonus lab (Alejo Duque).

Here are some samples of the current text file (20080831 version) :