The Second Life Of Recorded Sounds

The Soundscape Research Studio at the Institute of Cultural Studies and the Institute of Musicology at the University of Wrocław extend this invitation to participate in the upcoming international scientific conference. This event will take place as part of the third edition of the CENSE annual conference, following conferences in Budapest (2018) and Ústí nad Labem (2019).

The submission deadline has been extended to 1 July, 2020. Due to Coronavirus we can be forced to postpone the conference. Nevertheless, we are waiting for submissions, and in July together with all participants we will decide if the conference is online, or we can meet in Wrocław. If you have questions connected with the event, please write to us:

The Third International Conference of the CENSE
Place: Wrocław (Poland)
Time: 22-24 October 2020

The history of sound recording and the recording process itself are key concerns for the field of sound studies. In recent years, researchers have discovered increasingly older forms of sound recording and inscription (e.g. research conducted by the First Sounds Group on Scott de Martinville’s phonautograph resulted in moving the date of the beginning of sound recording back to the 1860s.) Meanwhile, the notion of a “second life” of recorded sounds represents an important area for further inquiry. This notion refers to the problem of re-using archival, non-musical recordings in scientific research, as well as in the context of artistic, educational, environmental and political activities. Various types of sound archives offer important resources for historical, cultural, media, anthropological, musicological or sociological studies, as well as valuable material for artists. It is worthwhile to research within not only institutional contexts, but also private sound archives and collections, whether recently established or those with a long tradition. Today, the common practice of recording the sounds of everyday life using smartphones and portable recorders also raises questions about the future fate of these vast repositories of recordings.

We would like to reflect on the techniques and methods of re-using and re-mediating archival recordings of urban sounds, sounds of nature, human voices, and the sound environments of work and domestic spaces. The use of recorded sound for purposes other than those for which it was originally recorded poses questions about its changing status, as well as ethical problems involving the right to use and process recordings, issues related how they are evaluated, and their introduction into new communication contexts. It is also necessary to consider the methods employed for the reconstruction, reading and analysis of sound recordings (including special recordings, such as the sounds of disasters).

Pertinent issues relate to the use of archival recordings in order to promote the idea of ecology. Can sound really be considered a medium capable of suggestively communicating climate change? To what extent do archival recordings of the sounds of nature today allow us to visualize changes taking place in individual ecosystems? Do recordings of destruction (e.g., the disappearance of bird songs) have greater causative and affective force than those showing positive changes as the result of protective measures (e.g., the disappearance of noise)?

The question of “the second life” of problematic sound heritage would also seem an interesting topic for discussion. An example of such problematic heritage would include recordings of surveillance wiretaps (including those conducted by security services), especially their contemporary (legal?) status and the possibility of using them in various contexts. This theme also refers to the broader issue of the “colonial” dimensions of recordings and the “decolonization” of archival resources, which in the case of Central Europe refers to the ongoing tension between those who created the recordings (state institutions with resources and equipment) and what was recorded (various sound environments that include social minorities, police recordings, social workers, radio broadcasts and the work of investigative journalists). The decolonial intervention in these recorded sound collections raises critical questions concerned with the role of the various parties in this communication process.

The themes that we invite proposals to explore, include but are not limited to:
Forms of archiving sound recordings;
Radio archives;
Criteria for selecting audio materials for archiving;
The deletion and destruction of sound archives;
Falsified and fake sound archives;
Copyright of sound recordings
Sound archives in the context of museum exhibitions and education;
Recordings as cultural heritage;
Recorded sound as testimony;
The role of recordings in historical politics;
Cultural practices related to private recordings of everyday life;
Private sound collections;
Recordings in the context of representations of climate change;
Re-use of non-musical recordings in music;
Sound art based on archival sound recordings;
Sound archives and the (re)construction of cultural identity;
Decolonizing approaches to archival resources;
Archiving recordings and media archaeology.

Researchers representing various fields of interest, curators, educators and artists are invited to participate in the conference. The participants can either present a paper or present educational and artistic projects.

Further information
The conference will be held in English.
We will not charge a registration fee for participation in the conference.
We invite abstracts of submissions (up to 2,000 characters, for 20 min. presentations) with a deadline of 1 July 2020
The publication of papers is planned in 2021 in the form of an English-language scientific monograph or an edition of a scientific journal.

Submissions (including abstracts) and any questions related to the conference should be sent to the following e-mail address:

Scientific Board
Dariusz Brzostek (Department of Cultural Studies, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, PL)
Csaba Hajnóczy (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, HU)
Július Fujak (Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra, SK)
Anna Nacher (Institute of Audiovisual Arts of the Jagiellonian University, PL)
Jan Krtička (Faculty of Art and Design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, Ústí nad Labem, CZ)
Renata Tańczuk – chairperson (Institute of Cultural Studies of the University of Wrocław, Soundscape Research Studio, PL)
Miloš Vojtěchovský (Asociace MLOK / Agosto Foundation, Prague CZ)

Renata Tańczuk (Institute of Cultural Studies of the University of Wrocław, Soundscape Research Studio, PL)
Robert Losiak (Institute of Musicology of the University of Wrocław, Soundscape Research Studio, PL)
Sławomir Wieczorek (Institute of Musicology of the University of Wrocław, Soundscape Research Studio, PL)
The Team of Soundscape Research Studio

Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest (HU)
Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra (SK)
Faculty of Art and Design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, Ústí nad Labem (CZ)

Artistic Partners
Canti Spazializzati Sound Lab (Wrocław, PL)
In Situ Contemporary Art Foundation / Sanatorium of Sounds Festival (Sokołowsko, PL)