Sonic Arts of Place Laboratory (SAPLab)

An image of headphones on the forest floorAn image of headphones on the forest floor


1.     associated with “sapience”: meaning wisdom, i.e. “the kind of sapience practiced by Homo sapiens that comes from listening”

2.     “sap” noun, slang – a naive person: “the kind of sapience that comes not just from listening, but from not knowing what listening is.”*

3.     “sap” noun – the juice of the plant: “a creative and sweet fluidity with healing properties”

4.     but also, “sap” noun – “the extension of a trench to a point beneath an adversary's fortifications"

5.     and “sap” verb – to weaken or to undermine: “a creative and sweet fluidity with healing properties, accountable for its power to undermine foundations surreptitiously and steadily”

To be used with care.

In contrast to the aural, the visual realm arguably provides poor descriptors of the local resonances and "density of interconnections" (Dunn 1999, 13) from which our rapidly changing worlds are made. A focus on sound allows interrogation of key issues in current geographical research, such as (1) the politics of sound and nature (what is natural? for whom?) (2) the importance of place in the making of science (3) the connection between fieldwork, natural science and gendered subjectivity, (4) the linkages between aurality, migratory species and geographical imagination, and (5) the reconstruction of past soundscapes.

Geographers have begun to critique and address their own historic privileging of visual ways of understanding.  The SAP Lab’s sonic and ecological attention to the world’s diverse ecosystems can inform our understanding of past relations with 'nature' and may also provide critical and aesthetic tools to help us tackle today's complex environmental concerns.

To know more about Dr. Laura Jean Cameron please follow this link.

Dunn, David (1999) Why Do Whales and Children Sing?  A Guide to Listening in Nature.  Santa Fe, New Mexico: Earth Ear.

*See Robinson, Dylan (2020) Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, p. 47


In A Nature Region (2002/2011)

Into the Middle of Things (2017)


2012-05-01 Co-creator. In a Nature Region (2002/2011). Centre for Art Tapes.

Contributors: Cameron L, Rogalsky M

Matt: This is a recording without edits made during the 'artists and experts' field trip around the Norfolk Broads on August 23 2002. I managed to find half an hour between 1 and 2 PM to sit undisturbed on a deteriorated pier close to the Broadland Conservation Centre at Ranworth Broad, by a channel where pleasure boats made long, slow entrances and exits from left and right. The title of the piece is borrowed from an unpublished essay by David Matless, "Sonic Geography in a Nature Region" which reflects on the place of sound in the Broads. My recording sometimes seems comical to me in its documentation of the almost incessant roaring of boat motors which pass from one speaker to the other in broad stereo (pun intended), in their occupants' quest to enjoy the "natural."

Laura: And what is "natural"? Matt's introduction to the Norfolk Broads was through my ongoing research (in collaboration with David Matless) on the historical geography of the concept of "nature" in this region, focusing on the work and life of the early British/Greek ecologist Marietta Pallis, who lived near Hickling. On her marsh, she dug a 3/4 acre swimming pool (1953) into the peat, outlining the shape of a double-headed Byzantine eagle. It is still extant.The digging prompted Pallis to reengage with local ecological debate, related in The Status of Fen and the Origin of the Norfolk Broads (1961), giving support to the theory of Joyce Lambert and others concerning the origin of the Broads as a medieval peat diggings. Matt and I initially made an overly ambitious plan for the Broads field trip to design and fly a kite in a similar shape, equipped with a small video camera which would look down on the pool, and Pallis' grave, which is at the heart of the eagle. When we considered the cost and logistics of the kite project, we realized it would have to wait. Unlike this unfinished piece which explores the visual and the "bird's eye view", Matt's recording privileges the aural and the "bird's ear view".