Now or Never support materials

Machine Listening is an ongoing artistic collaboration and research investigation instigated by Sean Dockray, James Parker and Joel Stern, beginning in 2020, exploring the politics and aesthetics of sound and listening in the age of big data. The project encompasses a range of different activities such as:

  • the creation of artworks, including installations, sound artworks, videos, experimental interfaces, and instruments
  • the staging of workshops and other pedagogical programs
  • the curation and production of events, performances and talks
  • writing, publishing and sharing of resources

1. Artistic Support Material

The above video is a 5-minute montage of various works created and produced by Machine Listening between 2020-23 for exhibition, broadcast and performance contexts, presented by ACCA, Ian Potter Museum, Unsound, Liquid Architecture, NTU CCA Singapore, and others. .

Artworks referenced include: Machine Listening Songbook (2023), Environments 12 (2023), After Words (2022), Always Learning (2018), Kate Crawford in conversation at (Against) the Coming World of Listening Machines, Word Processor experiments (2021-), Unnatural Language Processing (2021), Improvisation and Control (2021), Ego Trip (2022) Lessons in How (Not) to be Heard (2020), Thao Phan's "Listening to Misrecognition"

2. Artist Biographies

Established in 2020 by artist-researchers Sean Dockray, James Parker and Joel Stern, Machine Listening is a platform for collaborative research and artistic experimentation, focused on the political and aesthetic dimensions of the computation of sound and speech. The collective works across diverse media. In addition to research, writing and sound installation, Machine Listening have produced an online library and an interview series, staged lectures and performance programs, made films, and an 'instrument' for composing with audio and video via text. All of this material has been gathered online as an expanded 'curriculum', conceived as an experiment in collective learning and community formation.


Joel Stern is a artist, curator and researcher living in Naarm/Melbourne whose work focuses on practices of sound and listening and how these shape our contemporary worlds.

Between 2013-2022 Joel was Director of pioneering Australian sonic ats Liquid Architecture, and in this capacity he was responsible for the development and realisation hundreds of programs, exhibitions, performances and other projects in Australia and around the world, including artistic research projects such as Polyphonic Social, Why Listen?, Instrument Builders Project, and Ritual Community Music.

In 2018, with James Parker, Joel curated Eavesdropping, an expansive exhibition, public program, and publication, focussed on the politics, aesthetics, and ethics of listening, staged at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and City Gallery, Wellington. The project has been the subject of numerous reviews, essays, book chapters and other critical and creative reflections. In 2020, with James Parker, and Sean Dockray, Joel founded Machine Listening, an ongoing artistic and scholarly investigation into sound, automation, and algorithmic culture, which takes the form of artworks, writing, performances, workshops, resources and events. Machine Listening projects have since been presented and featured in festivals and programs around the world. In 2023, as part of the Data Relations exhibition at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Joel curated Data Relations Summer School, a four-day program of workshops, conversations and performances examining the contemporary social implications of living in data-driven worlds

In 2023 Joel was awarded the position of Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Media & Communication, RMIT, where he continues to develop curatorial and artistic research projects.


James Parker is an Associate Professor and associate curator with Liquid Architecture, who works across legal scholarship, art criticism, curation, and production. He is a current ARC DECRA fellow and former visiting fellow at the Program for Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School for Government.

James' research explores the relations between law, sound and listening. He has published widely on topics including the weaponization of sound, music torture, the judicial soundscape, and eavesdropping, as well as on the work of many artists whose work explores related themes. In 2017, James' monograph Acoustic Jurisprudence: Listening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi (Oxford University Press 2015) was awarded the Penny Pether Prize for work in law, literature, and the humanities.

Since 2016, James has collaborated regularly with Joel Stern and Liquid Architecture. Their major curatorial outputs together are Acoustic Justice, an experimental performance and lecture program at the Federal Court, and Eavesdropping, an exhibition and extensive public program staged at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in 2018 and City Gallery, Wellington in 2019. Since 2020, James and Joel have been working with Sean Dockray on Machine Listening, a platform for research, sharing, and artistic experimentation, focused on new and emerging forms of listening grounded in artificial intelligence and machine learning. So far, this project has involved collaborating with Unsound festival, NTU Singapore, Sarai, and many artists, as well as the production of newly commissioned works by institutions including Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

James has also provided commentary for the ABC, BBC and CNN, amongst others, on controversies including police use of the Long Range Acoustic Device and the alleged 'sonic attacks' at the US Embassy in Cuba in 2017. His music and art criticism has appeared in publications such as Frieze, Tiny Mix Tapes, Discipline, Sounding Out and Bloomsbury's How to Write About Music (2015). And he has given public lectures and performances at universities and art institutions across the world, including Harvard, Oxford, Goldsmiths, Darmstadt, the Rietveld Academy, Gertrude Contemporary, firstdraft, Westspace and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.


Sean Dockray is an artist and writer whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is a founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and AAAARG.ORG.

Recent exhibitions include Data Relations at ACCA, Melbourne (2022); House of Mirrors: Artificial Intelligence as Phantasm at HKMV, Dortmund, Germany (2022); Don't Be Evil, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane (2021); Eavesdropping at City Gallery, Wellington (2019); OPEN SCORES: How to program the commons at, Berlin (2019); and Part of the Labyrinth, 10th Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (2019). Recent performances and presentations animating algorithmic processes and errors include "Hack Piece" at Logical Conclusions/ Automation Effects (2022); "Listening to the Diagnostic Ear" for the Ian Potter Museum of Art (2020); "Patent Futures" at the Automated Culture Symposium (2019), hosted by Monash's Culture Media Economy group; and "Automation Takes Control" at the University of Melbourne's Data, Systems and Society Research Network conference on unstructured data (2019).

His written essays address topics such as artificial intelligence (Artlink), online education (Frieze), the militarisation of universities (in Contestations: Learning from Critical Experiments in Education), book scanning (Fillip), traffic control (Cabinet), and radio (Volume).