Between 2002 and 2005 David Cunningham was AHRB Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts in the Department of Fine Art, Newcastle University. The Fellowships scheme sought to bring leading artists from the world of professional practice into the HE environment. David’s background was in Sonic Installation and Music, an area in which he has an international reputation, having exhibited his work throughout the world. Encouraging ‘Active Listening’ and exploring the ‘sound of a room’ his Fellowship addressed interdisciplinary themes, researching areas of interest both to staff and students in Fine Art and Music.

For full documentation of this project, the project proposal and technical information please visit:



'It is impossible to consider sound apart from the space in which it is heard.'(1
(Minoru Hatanaka - Sounding Spaces, ICC Gallery, Tokyo 2003 ISBN4-7571-7022-X)


Primary Research Questions:
  • How can active listening be encouraged?
  • How does our awareness of acoustic surroundings influence our perceptions?
  • What happens if you magnify the sound of a room?
Secondary Research Questions:
  • Why is the role of sound increasingly coming to the fore within the Fine Arts?
  • How does technological change cause perceptual shifts which generate new potentials for awareness both inside an art/music context and generally?

The key aim of this three year Research Fellowship was to foreground and reveal how the spatial elements of sound contribute to the conditioning of human activity.  I investigated this broad theme by exploring what happens if you magnify the sound of the room and, by doing this, attempted to expose information about the nature of hearing and how, to a very precise degree, we are subconsciously constantly aware of our immediate acoustic environment.'

My methodology was to create a series of installations in a range of public spaces, amplifying the sound of those spaces in accordance with their inherent acoustic properties of reflections, reverberation and standing waves – ‘magnifying the sound of a room’.  Over the Fellowship I made seven installations in Britain and Japan with another two immediately following the end of the period of the Fellowship at Newcastle University.

All the work involves the spectator – the intention being that the installation qualitatively alters the experience of listening.  A key aspect of the primary research questions is the real time nature of the installation works and their relationship to the viewer/listener/participant. In practice, the real time element requires that development of this core work and dissemination are inseparable.