Current Projects

Listening as Intervention; Livable Soundscapes
Researcher: Milena Droumeva

Funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant in 2018 (Dr. Milena Droumeva, PI), Soundscapes of Livability is a project aimed at exploring urban spaces through the perspective of sound. Whether intentional or unintentional, city soundcsapes are byproducts of design, policy and discoures of livability. By listening to the city reflexively, relationally and historically this work updates soundscape conservationist approaches by focusing on unfolding discoures of design innovation and livability and their intersections with contested narratives of inhabitance, indigeneity, adn cultural coexistence in urban space. This project partners with SFU's Vancity Office of Engagement, and New Westminister's urban planning department.

Pedagogies of Listening
Researchers: David Murphy, Milena Droumeva

Simon Fraser University's School of Communication has a long-standing history of sound-based instruction and pedagogy, dating back to R. Murray Schafer's (1977/1994) work with the World Soundscape Project in the 1970s and Barry Truax's (2001) subsequent work in the area of acoustic communication through the 1980s and 1990s. Engagement with sound has included both listening activities, such as soundwalks, sound maps, various "ear cleaning" exercises and written reflections (sound journals); as well as audio production assignments that connect to modes of communication and media problematics, including recording interviews, creating public service announcements, podcasts, audio-based narratives and soundscape compositions. This project is an ongoing effort to develop concepts that underlie our listening-oriented audio-based curriculum, as well as design (and disseminate) practical examples of media production assignments. Our courses incorporate a range of listening exercises to familiarize students with a variety of formats and possibilities in using sound production and soundwriting as a form of communication alongside traditional writing work. 

Sound, Women and Gender in Games (SWAGG)

Researchers: Milena Droumeva | RAs: Kaeleigh Evans, Nesan Fertado, Maggie MacAulay, Renita Bangert | Funded by: SFU Small SSHRC grant

Media tropes such as the horror movie scream, the "valley girl" up-speak, and most recently the vocal fry have established themselves both as gendered archetypes of female voices and as forms of policing the inclusion of women in public media. A marked absence in this emergent conversation are female voices and "feminized" sounds in games: by virtue of being sound "effects" they draw on and solidify some of the most deeply entrenched gendered norms of sound design and voicing. Is it any surprise then that female public voices in the culture of video games garner some of the most vitriolic and misogynist responses? The bigger question that this project asks is, how are the power dynamics of voice, including silencing and speaking out reflective of and constituted by the actual media representations of women’s voices, "feminized" sound effects and soundscapes that are part of game texts and the gaming experience. In other words, what can attention to game sound illuminate about the replication of gendered representations across different media and media ecologies? Following a case study project on the battle cry in fighting games, this work is an ongoing exploration of the female voice in games as a model for critical multisensory analysis of interactive narrative media. 

Sonification for Public Engagement

Researchers: Milena Droumeva | RAs: Marc St Pierre, Brady Marks | Funded by: SFU Small SSHRC

This project explores the use of sound to communicate socially and environmentally significant data in ways that both complement and critique the increasingly popular role that infographics and data visualization have in disseminating information to the wider public. Sonification involves the conversion of data to sound, a practice that has so far been deployed in fairly specific scientific and professional contexts with a specialized listener in mind. Emergent and especially artistic work, however, suggests that sound may afford unique ways of representing large-scale data in ways suitable for raising public awareness of important current issues. The first iteration of this work focused on issues surrounding climate in cities across Canada. Future and ongoing work with sound/code artist Brady Marks is focused on developing live sonification of social media trends, and specifically, a sonic information display of the #metoo movement.