Ella Finer

Forthcoming book: Acoustic Commons and the Wild Life of Sound, Errant Bodies Press

Trustee of Longplayer and member of The IW


Recent writing: London—Mars—Palermo | The Heart in Her Mouth | Burning House / Burning Horse | A Politics of Resonance | Listening in Common in Uncommon Times | Feminism and Sound.

Material Voice in Pitch Black

Material Voice in Pitch Black. Photo: Jem Finer


Skiagraphia. Photo: Ella Finer


Composition in text and sound, with Mercedes Azpilicueta.
For Infrasonica, Audible Matter/Wave 5, September 2021. Published with Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.

PROJECT — Silent Whale Letters.
Launch on Ocean Archive, and Delfina Foundation, 20 September 2021, 18:00 BST / 19:00 CEST. Repeating daily, 20 September – 26 September 2021. Project continues on Ocean Archive until Spring 2022.
Long correspondence with Vibeke Mascini, reflectling on ‘silent whale’ -an inaudible sound recording in the British Library Sound Archive- and other so-called ‘silent’ subjects.

PUBLICATION — Remember the scream: Mikhail Karikis' No Ordinary Protest.
Essay forthcoming in Mikhail Karikis, monograph. Published by Freigeist Verlag, Berlin with Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Edited by Hannes Schumacher and Elinor Morgan.



And everywhere vibrations: A roundtable discussion.

Broadcast of discussion and playback session with Vibeke Mascini and Pamela Jordan on the occasion of The City Talks Back, Assembly II. Broadcast on movement.radio

Departing from the orbital translations of her moon is a captured object, in which a kind of inter-hearing of the earthly, the mythic and the cosmic is proposed as a way of listening to the city, Ella Finer is joined by architect and sensory archeologist Pamela Jordan and visual artist and writer Vibeke Mascini in a discussion about the implicit politics in sonic relationships to site, scientific-mystical sonorous bonds, infrasonic and inaudible frequencies.


her moon is a captured object, radio mix.

Broadcast of two compositions cut to vinyl, mixed live by Yorgos Samantas on the occasion of The City Talks Back, Assembly II. Broadcast on movement.radio.


Bondage of Passions: Ode.

Sited composition in response to Mercedes Azpilicueta’s Bondage of Passions at Gasworks, London, 25 - 27 June 2021.


Burning House / Burning Horse in Governmental Fires curated by Cédric Fauq.

Group exhibition at Futura, Prague. 5 May - 20 June 2021. Watch the work here.

Then, it was manifest that Ella Finer’s video-essay Burning House / Burning Horse (2020), dealing primarily with the burning of the British Parliament from its undergrounds in October 1834, had to find itself in the very guts of Futura. It is somehow – and the analogy is quite risky – like placing a ticking bomb in the depths of the institution.

Extract from Cédric Fauq’s exhibition text, 2021.


Listening Room.

Live listening event with IRC chat. A collaboration with Soundcamp and the Acoustic Commons network as part of Alternatives to Crisis: Campus for Climate Action. 4 June 2021, 6-8pm. For more information see online programme.

We travel far-away by ear, and we hear what’s outside our own window in sharper audibility, the range of our hearing expands. And with this new awareness, is an acoustic attention to the interconnected world. And our place within it. Some place microphones to hear what is around us, beside us, within us — right now. The streamers. By opening sound channels across the globe, these inaudible bodies remind us that listening happens in the present tense that always holds the fragile past and future; they remind us that listening is to witness, and advocate for, the world as it changes; that listening is a practice of action.

Extract from The Streamers. Thoughts for the Listening Room. , Ella Finer, 2021


Conversations: Liquid Junctions.

Talk with Chara Stergiou and Angeliki Tzortzakaki as part of Digital Swamp Expanded Public Program.

For Mediterranea 19: School of Waters, 19 May 2021.

Because, I have been thinking Chara of these two bodies in your work: the DJ and the lecturer…as two bodies intrinsically linked by their love of moving an audience between what we are hearing to what we are hearing about -- knowledge as always on the move between the sound and its description -- we are in the song and then in all the memories and imagined dimensions it calls forth, we are in the theoretical thick of a remix, we are in the space open long enough for us, the audience, to create some of the noise and some of the description of the noise ourselves.

Extract from Notes in response to Chara Stergiou’s DJ Lecture, Ella Finer, 2021


Acoustic Commons Study Group: WIND STUDY.

Online chat-based meeting listening to 8 wind tracks and the live winds of London and Palermo

Curated with Flora Pitrolo for Soundcamp. 1 May 2021.

We invite you to study the acoustic off-grid with us as an atmospheric commons—with the wind that is always off grid, even while harnessed “as an elusive assertive material force” (Finer, 2012) for the electrical grid we rely on to power our connections across distance. For this Acoustic Commons Study Group, on the occasion of Soundcamp #8, we will create a grid across eight cities with a network of composer-respondents and their eight winds: a windrose to help us navigate these times, hyperlocal and interplanetary at the same time.

Essay published on the occasion of WIND STUDY, London—Mars—Palermo.


Acoustic attention, deep affiliation and the work of listening.

Invited talk, FTT Research series, Reading University. 27 January 2021.


The Heart in Her Mouth.

Three sister essays written in collaboration with Sheila Chukwulozie, Vibeke Mascini and Urok Shirhan.

Infrasonica. December 2020.

It sounds an enchanted story to say each of you gave me something to weather this time, but you did. I find it in Deborah Bird Rose’s essay on Shimmer when she describes ‘the waves of ancestral power that shimmer and grab are also exactly the relationships that bring us forth and sustain us’.

We have all met across distance and could say these are meetings in the waves, while in the cross-currents of electric cities with radios on, radiant sun, storm Alex at the window. With Wireless Fidelity as medium, and message.

How does a wave begin? With the wind on the water? A push in a crowd? A switch, a word, a look, a small breath in and out, an idea, a moment of abandon, a moment of care? These obscure and multitudinous beginnings—

Extract from The Heart in Her Mouth introduction, Ella Finer, 2020


in the light of distant stars.

A talk-in-transit.

Invited session with Yorgos Samantas and Urok Shirhan. For Auraldiversities. 10 December 2020.

So when I say I am listening to you now, in the present, the tension inherent in this tense is that my experience of the present is always in relation to what is at distance, what has passed or what may come to pass - acoustic attention (in the form of listening in the present) is a practice of retrieval and anticipation. Details both clearer and obscured, quieter and amplified. We all compose with what we choose to louden to our senses; remixing records pulled from other times as we listen with an ear to the room, the bodies on the floor. You are hearing me speak but may be listening elsewhere, to an elsewhere outside the window, an elsewhere in a daydream, a memory, or your breathing beating body as what is closest, and most audibly, most tenderly, present to yourself.
Extract from in the light of distant stars, Ella Finer, 2020


Acoustic Commons Study Group: Memory Materials.

Online chat-based meeting hosting responses to the subject matter of Burning House / Burning Horse.

Hosted by Bianca Stoppani for Almanac, London and Turin. 29 November 2020.


Composing Feminisms.

Invited talk, Research Works series at Guildhall, London. 23 November 2020.

Composition, as I attend to it here is this never easy practice of faithfully holding bodies in a work one names as their own. And never easy because this is difficult work: to bring your body to the page with responsibility for bringing others’ truths with you, bodies and their truths who don’t even know they are there through the “calling forth” practice of citation. I am talking about a feminist ethics of working with others’ words, about resisting quotation as a form of extraction, about translation as the pluralising of a body of work which is always happening - across languages yes - but also within a work of (never simply) one language. Translation that happens at micro scales: within sentences, within a word, a single letter, the smallest mark.
Extract from Composing Feminisms: a feminist ethics of working with others’ words, Ella Finer, 2020


Salon conversation, Ella Finer and Urok Shirhan.

As part of Aural/Oral Dramaturgies project, Duška Radosavljevic. Curated by Flora Pitrolo. November 2020.


A Politics of Resonance: The Commons and the Square.

Essay in Sonic Urbanism: The Political Voice. Published by Theatrum Mundi and &beyond, London. Launched 18 November 2020.


Burning House / Burning Horse.

An elemental conversation with Marcia Farquhar’s Burning Horse.

Commission for Almanac, London and Turin. Curated by Bianca Stoppani for Almanaccare. 5 November 2020.

Anniversaries hold the time-space of a day - as soon as announced, ushered away. The one day leaves little time to speak with the dead, while the living turn the past to fictions in a flash. So when we need to remember why we are remembering, we need to trust that distance is a dream-space we can find our way back into.
Extract from Burning House / Burning Horse, Ella Finer, 2020

Ella Finer


Acoustic Commons reflective evaluation.

For Acoustic Commons, a Creative Europe project. Published on acousticcommons.net. 22 October 2020.

The relationship of Acoustic Commons to archival practice is of particular interest to me. The commons adjusts in relation to its use. Those who use it, the commoners, come to understand – by tending it – what and where it will produce, and in turn they effect how it produces. While the sound archive, like this project, will always be “intrinsically incomplete”, it is incomplete also because of modes and methods of selection approaching institutional administration, however careful the task of curation is. Acoustic Commons relies on its commoners as curators of the incomplete, care-takers of material that appears to dissolve as soon as it is sounded, of ideas that may grow again a following year, or may not.
Extract from Acoustic Commons reflective evaluation, Ella Finer, 2020


her moon is a captured object.

Commission for Assembly I, The City Talks Back. Produced by Theatrum Mundi and Onassis Stegi. 30 September 2020.

A composition circling a spoken text as it performs an “orbital translation” from English to Greek to English. No simple return to start: in circling, the text comes back changed – co-authored with its translators, over-dubbed by their voices. Considering scales of relation, frequencies and energies of/in/between cities and the people connected to them, the text speaks a series of night thoughts about communicating across distance and difference, about movement and relation, about star-like rocks and language in flight. With Eirini Amanatidou and Gigi Argyropoulou.

Listening in Common in Uncommon Times
Essay in The Kenyon Review Online (May/June) and Free Berlin
See here for KR editor response to the essay.

Free Berlin

Vibeke Mascini: Infra
Conversational letters as part of Vibeke Mascini's residency at Delfina Foundation, contemplating the the British Library's ‘silent’ recording of a blue whale.

As part of Urok Shirhan’s The Ether and Radio Alhara: Ella Finer, Hazem Jamjoum and Reem Shahid.
For BAK Fellowship Intensive session curated by Urok Shirhan, May 14 2020.

Acoustic Commons Study Group – Wave Study: Listening in common in uncommon times
Curator-convenor of the ACSG for Soundcamp 2020, May 2 2020

Artist Talk: Anton Kusters. Conversation chair for final talk in the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize series at The Photographer's Gallery, April 30 2020.

Sound and Feminism.
Chapter in Sound and Literature, ed. Anna Snaith. Cambridge University Press, 15 June 2020.


Acoustic Commons Study Group: the archive and the commons.

ACSG # 3 British Library Sound Archive with Vittoria Butti, Sheila Chukwulozie, Steve Cleary, Harry Cooper, Ella Finer, Vibeke Mascini, Arjuna Neuman, Will Prentice, P. A. Skantze, Grant Smith, Dawn Scarf and Cheryl Tipp, British Library, 2 March 2020.


Mikhail Karikis: For Many Voices, Study Day.

Invited talk, with Mikhail Karikis, Sam Belinfante, Salomé Voeglin and Liam Slevin on the occasion of Mikhail Karikis’ first survey exhibition, For Many Voices at MIMA, Middlesbrough. Feb 15 2020.

Just two months into the Fridays For Future Strikes, initiated by Greta Thunberg – now globally recognised as a force to be reckoned with herself – an iron girl – No Ordinary Protest played to an audience just beginning to comprehend the sheer threat of climate change. Not a new subject, not a sudden cause, but now urgent, catastrophic – the effects of sustained unchecked abuse terrifyingly felt in the air, the water, the land, and even more terrifyingly felt when amplified through a child’s reckoning, through children’s apprehension of scale.
Extract from Wild Wisdom II: Mikhail Karikis's No Ordinary Protest, Ella Finer, 2020


The Tender Interval. Studies in Sound and Motion.

Chair of opening panel Sonic Ecologies with Hannah Catherine Jones, Joseph Morgan Schofield and Arjuna Neuman at ICA, London. February 5 2020. Co-curated by Sara Sassanelli and Sarah Shin.

Because to attend/attune ‘to the the grey gap between black beats; the tender interval’ still places us in relation to someone’s or something’s beat – the artists’ work we will hear about tonight both define and leave blurry these relationships, or offer us as audience, auditors, the space to consider by ear and eye the black keys, the grey gap and the tender interval that is the interrelation of marked and unmarked time.

In part four of Nabakov’s chronicled book the character Ada ends in mid-sentence, her thoughts suspended in mid-air. In attempting to describe time she succumbs to it, she becomes it: "We can know the time. We can know a time. We can never know Time. Our senses are simply not meant to perceive it. It is like --."

As readers we are rhythmically hers, suspended in a tender interval of her own, through Nabakov’s, determining - between words, thoughts, worlds, times, pages. I want to introduce Arjuna, Hannah and Joseph’s work by foregrounding how powerfully they command their own leaps of faith, their own story-telling and how vitally aware they are of what it means to occupy/study timelessness as both privileged and compromised position.

Extract from Introduction to Sonic Ecologies panel, Ella Finer, 2020.


The City Talks Back.

Onassis Stegi with Theatrum Mundi, Athens. 11–19 January 2019

City Talks Back

The City Talks Back, 2019

A project that will bring together architects, anthropologists, and acoustic ecologists to reveal the assemblages of voices in different spaces in the city, through a research residency producing documentation and a critical analysis. Working with this material, performers and architects will collaborate on a production residency to create and record interventions that show how urban space could help transform unheard words into political speech.
Project description from Onassis Foundation website.

With Urok Shirhan, Mercedes Azpilicueta, John Bingham-Hall, Fani Kostourou, Stefania Gyftopolou, Tim Ward, Thom Western and Yorgos Samantas


A politics of resonance: the Commons and the Square.
Contributor at Crafting a Sonic Urbanism: the Political Voice. EHESS École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. 13 December 2019.


Signals: Experiments in Sound.
Tate Modern, on occasion of Takis exhibition. 23 September 2019. Chair, with panellists Jennifer Walshe and Chooc Ly Tan.

The curation of Takis’ work here is then compositional – we listen to a whole body of work at once, we listen to 70 years while standing in place. Takis’s “obsession” (in his words) with energy manifests in material objects whose affect travels farther (literally than the eye can see) because of the forces they emit, whether audible or otherwise. Curating sound, caring for the invisible, is not only tricky because of the leaky acoustics from one exhibit to another, but because there is responsibility to host both the material and the immaterial simultaneously – the object that makes or documents the sound and the sound that is produced. If we are considering on this panel how sound shapes social and political ideas we might well consider the resistance of sound to stay in place, to submit to control. Chooc Ly writes of ‘fusions we have not found names for yet’ in her online list of music genres she DJs – when sound is nameless, catergory-less what kinds of subversion can it perform? And what kinds of control and attempts at ownership does it escape? What spaces can it make moves to decolonise?

Extract from Energies, an introduction, Ella Finer, 2019


Silver Road invites The International Western.
LCC studio, Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. 19 August 2019

Working Lunch

Working Lunch, 2019

Itinerary 13.00–14.00 – Working Lunch: Acoustic Commons Study Group  The IW hosts a public meeting of the ACSG on the topics of sound and the condition of being in common at Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre.

20.00–21.30 – An Evening at the Shopping Centre with The International Western The IW presents a night-time programme of works on the topics of labour, precariousness, cars, demolition, shopping centres, sound and the nocturnal.

Acoustic Commons Study Group (ACSG) at Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre
What is an acoustic commons? What are its boundaries, if any, and who makes/determines them?

Having first met as a closed group (with Emma Bennett, Amy Cutler and Helen Frosi, commissioned by Soundcamp 2019) at the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, the acoustic commons study group was first conceived and convened by Ella Finer as a way of gathering diverse considerations of what a commons is in sonic terms. Provoked by Ella's current project on "the wild life of sound" and feeding back into the writing of her forthcoming book (Errant Bodies, Berlin), this will be one of several meetings of the group she organises in various locations/contexts over the next year. Following the ethos of the project, anyone is welcome and encouraged to gather together an ACSG in contexts that particularly interest them.

For the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, the group opens the conversation to pluralise the way 'acoustic commons' can be used and thought. From its naming of the file sharing platform which relays Reveil, artist Dawn Scarfe's 24 hour Dawn Chorus, each year to a critical term for considering "aural rights" (Alexandra Hui) and "sound commons...sound equity" (Jeff Todd Titon), we will gather thoughts to augment and expand the study, attending to the acoustic commons as a mode or ethos of sharing sound in public, across publics known and unknown, whilst considering how sound travels and of course questions of ownership and property explicitly relating to the specific surroundings we are in at the Shopping Centre awaiting its closure, demolition and contested "regeneration" and development. 

Social Acoustics: Infrastructure, Sound and Public Memory.
With John Bingham-Hall, chaired by Ruth Bernatek for Sound Making Space. Bartlett School of Architecture. 22 May 2019


Improvisation and Experimentation.
Chaired by Richard Sennett, with fellow speaker Jacqueline Springer. Theatrum Mundi at the Biscuit Factory. April 2019.

Falling Outside: Sonic Miscellanies and the Wild Life of Sound
Performance Research Forum, Goldsmiths University. 26 March 2019


B2B. With The IW. Art, Performance and the Sonorous. Roehampton University. 13 December 2018

INTONE. With Laura Cannell and the IMMIX Ensemble. Tate Liverpool. 30 November 2018


Intone, Tate Liverpool, 2018. Courtesy of getintothis.co.uk

INTONE: For Overbow Violin, Voice & IMMIX Ensemble

The sound of languages and ancient fragmented music come together and apart in eight cycles, as Cannell and Finer collaborate for the first time on an experimental new work for Overbowed Violin, Voice and the Immix Ensemble. 

Extended techniques, ancient sounding melodies and drone intertwine with live and recorded voice in this new composition exploring Cannell and Finer’s shared interest in the sound of languages: through tone and intonation, translation and transposition. 

Composed from an instructional text score, translated into eight languages and transcribed for instruments, INTONE takes its starting points from ancient and modern methods of composition: from the 15th century idea of performing vocal music instrumentally to fluxus methods of interpretation and duration. 




Remix, Rewind, Play: Experiments in Narrative.

Tate Modern. 27 November 2018. Chair, with panellists Beatrice Dillon and Adham Faramawy



Wild Wisdom.

Response to Mikhail Karikis’s No Ordinary Protest. Whitechapel Gallery. 3 November 2018


Selector Responder II: Sounding Out the Archives.

British Library Knowledge Centre. 23 October 2018

An evening of inspiring audio, with six quick-fire responses from artists and specialists to the incredible sound materials in the British Library collection and beyond. The second volume of Selector Responder placed emphasis on issues of representation in the sound archive: what sounds get conserved and why? What are the politics of selection and response to the sonic? With contributors Shiva Feshareki, Johanna Linsley, Sarah Sayeed, Jacqueline Springer, Nadia Valman and Future Self.



non-curated (summertime). With The IW. Whitechapel Gallery. 12/13 October 2018

non-curated (summertime) is: (a) a performance and a composition based on the electromagnetic resonances of the Whitechapel Gallery; (b) an experiment in charting the infrastructural sonics of the Whitechapel and in taking them into the Gallery’s archive; (c) a conversation between The International Western and Jackson Pollock on the topics of “energy, motion, and other inner sources”; (d) a museum situation drama.



Longplayer Legacies and Social Acoustics. New Resonances, On Acoustics. Whitechapel Gallery. 13 October 2018

In her 2002 essay 'Time is Dead' Astrophysicist Janna Levin writes that any machine built to maintain and play Jem Finer's 1,000 year-long piece of music Longplayer is also a clock: 'a lighthouse flashing into the future'. She suggests that 'instead of a mechanical object, maybe Longplayer should be passed on by word of mouth as a chant, a myth'. The futurism inherent in Longplayer is of course also compellingly ancient - as Kodwo Eshun writes this composition is 'a 'primaudial machine...assembling its own ancestry before our very ears' (2002). 


Less than two decades into its future, Longplayer has played through multiple mechanical objects and - as Levin pre-empts - through several live performances. Longplayer Legacies, three responses/re-compositions by artist composers Larry Achimapong, Laura Cannell and Vanessa Brown is Longplayer’s most recent live broadcast, one of Longplayer's 'strategies for survival' - not wholly dependent on technologies with life-spans far shorter than the deep time duration of the composition, but on other bodies listening and composing through and within the fabric of Longplayer in the hope of creating a social strategy for sharing, playing with and passing on the sound.




Longplayer Legacies Series: Live at the Lighthouse

Trinity Buoy Wharf. 9/10/11 October 2018

Longplayer Legacies is a concert series hosting three extraordinary composers (Larry Achiampong, Laura Cannell, and Vanessa Brown) re-composing, re- interpreting Longplayer’s score/music over three nights in October 2018. These will be held at the Lighthouse in London’s Trinity Buoy Wharf, (from which Jem Finer’s 1000-year long composition Longplayer plays continuously: longplayer.org) for an intimate audience onsite and a livestream audience hosted by soundandmusic.org.

Curated by Ella Finer as a Sound and Music Composer-Curator 2018, these concerts are a repsonse to Longplayer’s ethos of caring for the long term alongside her own work as a producer and curator interested in re-mix, cross-temporal splicing and the politics of doing so. The idea for these sessions is to ask how sound legacies are produced and who creates them? Further who ensures their "preservation" and how? Who knows where to look for these legacies-who feels entitled to creatively and critically attend to these materials?

Longplayer Legacies

Larry Achiampong. Photo: Debbie Bragg



Women's Voices in Parliament: Representation in the year of Vote 100.

With Maggie Inchley and Emma Bennett. Octagon, Queen Mary University of London. 13 June 2018

River Room

One hundred years since the Representation of the People Act, which first granted women the right to vote in UK parliamentary elections, what kind of space do powerful institutions grant to women’s voices? What progress has been made, and what still needs to be done? Hosted by Queen Mary University of London, this mini-symposium brought together academics from across the fields of Drama, Politics, and Gender and Media Studies, alongside artists and performers, inviting them to tackle urgent and challenging questions of representation. Taking place in the historic space of the Octagon, formally the library of the People’s Palace, speakers included Sarah Childs, Jen Harvie, Rainbow Murray, Lise Olson, Naomi Paxton, Nirmal Purwar, Nephertiti Schandorf and Jemima Hindmarch and Lewis Williams of Occupy the Octagon.

Vote100Click to download program


Far Stretch. Listening as Performance in The Creative Critic: writing as/about practice, eds. Katja Hilevaara and Emily Orley (Routledge). May 2018.

What follows, through my thinking about how we listen in ever-expanding and contracting proximities to sonic material, is my own reckoning with how to write (about) sound. I began above concentrating on the sounds I am surrounded by now (which of course always holds the ‘then’ and the ‘what will be’) to expose a method which is implicit throughout this writing: ways of reading/perceiving the layers of live sound overlapped again with associated sounds, played back in memory. Listening constellates the sound of times, spaces and contexts, marking similarities and significant differences in the act, and this attentive listening to the complexity of correlating times is key to this method I am working with here, a method which relies on keeping faith in the absence of fact, of feeling the trace elements of something in the air, on the air, of listening to the materiality of vibrations and hearing imagination as information.

Extract from Far Stretch, Finer 2018




A Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park SoundCamp 2018. 5 May 2018.


Birds, Hanna Tuulikki, 2018. Photo: Debbie Bragg

An East London SoundCamp curated for International Dawn Chorus Day offering an opportunity to listen to the bird life of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park while walking between three performances interpreting birds through speech, song and instrumentation. Featuring internationally acclaimed artists and musicians Emma Bennett, Laura Cannell and Hanna Tuulikki.




Matthew Herbert: The Politics of Listening

Chair of panel with Matthew Herbert, Frances Morgan and Polly Russell. British Library Knowledge Centre. 23 January 2018.

The Politics of Listening

Event Panel, The Politics of Listening, 23 January 2018. Photo: Jean-Philippe Calvin



Selector Responder: Sounding Out the Archives

British Library Knowledge Centre. 8 December 2017. An evening of inspiring audio, with ten quick-fire responses from artists and specialists to the incredible sound materials in the British Library collection and beyond. The platform reconsiders how and why we archive sound, including at a live event, where it is always in the process of assembling 'its own ancestry before our very ears' (Kodwo Eshun, 2002). Curated by Ella Finer as a response to the recent archiving of Jem Finer's thousand-year-long composition Longplayer. With contributions from Noah Angell, Larry Achiampong, James Bulley, Ben Elliott, Marysia Lewandowska, Holly Pester, Flora Pitrolo, Nina Power, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski and David Toop.




Family Album. A 4-way DJ set. The British Library. 24 November 2017

Family Album

Ella Finer, British Library, November 2018. Photo: Debbie Bragg

A four-way DJ set by Marcia Farquhar and Jem, Ella and Kitty Finer

Family Album is  a 4-way DJ set by Marcia Farquhar and Jem, Ella and Kitty Finer, all of whom work with vinyl in distinct ways. Each member of the family will mix sounds that they have individually contributed to the British Library Sound Archive over the years with other records of their own, and other’s, making. 

Jem Finer DJs with Slowplayer, a turntable operating between 0.2 and 3 rpm. At extreme slow speeds the spin of a record player is reduced to a glacial crawl, the music to a seismic rumble. A beat may last a minute, and the once tiny slices of silence between them become ambient voids. With Slowplayer Jem Finer continues his preoccupation with long-durational processes and extremes of scale. Usually installed in a gallery, playing one LP over the course of a day, for this evening he will be playing short excerpts from a wide range of records, from Ornette Coleman to the Sex Pistols via bird song recordings, popular and classical hits and other selections from his record collection. 

Over the past decade Ella Finer has documented her work on records of varying materials: from acetate dub plates to flexidisks. Exactly ten years on since its making, she plays her Ella Fitzgerald/Ella Mitchell record publicly for the first time – a work composed of a broken Ella Mitchell record made whole again through the addition of a section of an Ella Fitzgerald record. This is mixed with both her own back-catalogue of record installations and an archival recording (in the British Library Sound Archive) of her performance A Play for Offstage Voices (2010).

Kitty Finer performs Lobby Star: A Side / B Side, the continuation of a performance she has staged with her debut EP at The Horse Hospital, Bookartbookshop and most recently on Richard Wilson’s A Slice of Reality on the Thames. When performing without a band she takes a portable record player and a copy of her EP, Lobby Star, with her as a backing track to sing along to. Lobby Star was added to the British Library Sound Archive in 2016 and here she plays it back loud into the lobby of the Library.

Live mixing some hit-and-miss memories with a selection from her record collection, Marcia Farquhar brings up the seventies in voice and music. Interspersed with her old 45s will be brand new spoken word singles of significant others recalling the past. These are selected from her recent work Vox Box, an archival jukebox including interviews with Stuart Brisley, Gina Birch, Mick Jones and Gustav Metzger. Marcia's presentation is as much about the unreliability of memory as about vinyl. As she herself says, ‘Vinyl never forgets!’.



The Aura of the Aural in Performance Research: On Proximity June 2017.

Compelled and confounded by the distance between the speaker and receiver in early telephonic communication, an anonymous reporter of the Scientific American called it ‘an airy nowhere, inhabited by voices and nothing else.’ Conceiving spatial and temporal distances as areas which can host the event of the voice, this article attends to the voice on the record as a particular example of transmission into the airy nowhere. Approaching how reproduction complicates the distance the voice performs in and through; and experimenting with how the material of the record might make the voice more material in its sounding, the research considers how the record of the voice has its own ‘auratic’ presence in the instance of its replaying.


Methodology of Locks (with P.A. Skantze and E. Orley). Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts, edited by Peg Rawes, Timothy Mathews, Stephen Loo (IB Tauris) May 2016.

Methodology of Locks



Starrʼs Sonorous Shadows in & labels, edited by Sophia Hao (The Cooper Gallery, Dundee), February 2016. Following public discussion at A Salon of the Voice (Cooper Gallery, Dundee, 28 November 2013).

& Labels



Record Animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format: 25 Years of Focal Point Gallery, Focal Point Gallery, July – September 2015).



My Mother’s Records and My Father’s Car in ‘Performance as Sculpture’ publication by Ruth Beale and Nicole Bachmann.

My Mother’s Records and My Father’s Car



Strange Objects/Strange Properties: female audibility and the acoustic stage prop in Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience, edited by Ben Macpherson and Konstantinos Thomaidis (Routledge) May 2015.

Seeking strategies for political agency and artistic recognition, art historian Dorothy Rowe has drawn attention to the fact that in recent artistic practice there has been “recourse to an extended sensual field as a means of disrupting the dominance of the visual within Western metaphysics” (2004: 148). This chapter explores the constant negotiation of female audibility and visibility within such an “extended sensual field.” Of particular interest is how the sonic property of voice can be investigated for its “ability to effect surprising forms of subversion,” after Gina Bloom’s provocation in Voice in Motion (2007: 16). How, for example, are the politics of female visibility and audibility implicated together when the voice is staged in specific scenographies/ situations? How does the voice become “visible” when the body is absent?


Scoring Storms: The Chaotic Air That Does Resist in Performance Research, On Turbulence November 2014.

This article considers how British Artist Georgina Starr's scoring of wind in her 1992 work Whistle enables much of her authorial control in composing with turbulent air, in making an object, which draws attention to the task of preserving the air current as ‘exquisitely … intact.’ At the same time instructional and open for interpretation, her notational score made of arrows suspended in mid air materialises a practice of simultaneously holding on and letting go of control. Discussing the methods of Whistle’s making and playing with turbulence as vital for feminist experimentation, the writing attends to how both air and the artist (together and apart) practice resistance. For, in mimicking the whirling wind with her whistling Starr literally re-composes a sensation of movement in turbulent air, capturing ‘an element, a fragment, of chaos in the frame’ (Grosz, Elizabeth (2008) Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the framing of the earth, New York: Columbia University Press:18).


Calling All Performance with the International Western (Primrose Wharf, London, September 2014).



The Composition is Different Web-based commission for Performance as Publishing(performanceaspublishing.com, October 2013.



O Installation, as part of Fig.1, Baltic 39, Newcastle, September 2013.


O explores how a sound work can make itself through unmaking itself: playing a record continuously until it is played out.

Over the five week duration of BALTIC39|FIGURE ONE, an acetate record will play in an act of repeated repetition, gradually transforming its material surface, while the sound of the voice pressed into it distorts, degrades and eventually disappears.

While the record is playing throughout the hours the space is open], the record will play out in its own time. Neither the time it it takes for the record to play out is guaranteed nor is there any model, any previous attempt to draw approximations from. All acetate records are fragile: their “original” pressed sound is finite, and many variables (the turntable, the stylus, the weight of the record player’s arm) determine the lifespan of the acetate. O, then, is an experiment in taking time. Critically, in reception and in the making, this is a [joint] experiment in listening to that time being taken, however subtle, and eventually inaudible the act of sonic transformation might be.


Public Address System. Speech for a Loudspeaker Commission for Art13 art fair (Art13, Olympia, March 2013).


Public Address System is a recorded speech composed for, and played over, loudspeaker. Engaging with forms and scales of "public address" from speech-making to public service announcements, the content refers back to the particular medium through which it is played, and reconfigures the expected loudspeaker broadcasts of “address” and “announcement” to test what we might assume to be the traditional subject matter, volume or intelligibility of the PA system’s transmission.

Played in three parts – at the beginning, middle and end of each day at the fair as entrance, interval and exit “music” - each broadcast will sonically mark the duration of the day, drawing attention to the changing activity of the space and the different “publics” it plays to. Through thinking out loud about what kind of public is being addressed in the context of the art fair, and what kind of past publics haunt this space and its airwaves, Public Address System concentrates on the body of people being addressed, or hearing the sound, as a distinct public – a public whose temporary gathering and dispersal at Olympia is marked by the rhythm and words of the three-part address.


'The composition is different, that is certainʼ – Ophelia Composing Herself in Kenyon Review Online, Winter 2013 [kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2013-winter/selections/ella-finer-656342]. January 2013


Where We Meet, Volumes 1 and 2 Solo exhibition (Galerie8, London, September 2012).


Where We Meet, Volume 1 installation view. Photograph: Kitty Walker

Where We Meet film by Tom Chick and Denna Cartamkhoob

Emily Orley writing about project and link to sound extract: https://site-writing.co.uk/in-the-emptiness-between-them-2012/


A Sound Aside. Composition for a sound of steps of those not here Performance and Installation (Galerie8, London, November, 2011).


Facsimiles: Playing Host Radio Performance on Resonance FM, (Raven Row, London, July 2011).


Voice Scores 2010 – ongoing: A Pitch Black, A play for Offstage Voices, Playing Host, Debate with the Dark, Constellation Piece.


Performances/readings include:

Playing Host (for voice and record)

• Flat Time House, London, December 2010.

• Arnaud Desjardins’ Back Catalogue, Bloomberg Space, London, July 2011

• The Shift: Eight Years of the Flat Time House, Flat Time House, April – May 2016

A Play for Offstage Voices

• Islington Mill, Manchester and Club Row Gallery, Rochelle School, London, April 2010

• Space studios, London, October 2010.

Constellation Piece

• X Marks the Bokship, London, October 2011.