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Energies Consciousness Workshop in OZ with Douglas Kahn

Thursday, March 2, 2023, from 10:00 to 16:00 on-site at the Sydney College of the Arts (AUS) & online

This workshop focuses on alternative notions of energies and their relevance in times of climate change. They are primarily addressed by artists and activists and easily overlooked by others. However, they are at least equally important as renewable energies for an encompassing discourse on Energies Humanities and the deep societal transformation needed in our times.

It is our great honor that renowned researcher and writer Dr Douglas Kahn, Honorary Professor at the Sydney College of the Arts of the University of Sydney, will present at this workshop his latest research on the energies addressed in Jack Kerouac's famous novel On the Road. After Patricia Smith Yaeger's groundbreaking take on this novel for establishing the new field of Energies Humanities,

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Kahn's close reading will give insight into different notions of energies addressed by Kerouac than fossil fuel.

After this opening, Ania Mauruschat and Jenny Gräf Sheppard, both members of the Sound Studies Lab of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, will present their current research projects, which have been deeply inspired and informed by Kahn's research and his current project Energies Artists Say, which he develops and pursuits together with sound artist, scholar and researcher Dr Pia van Gelder (Australian National University, Canberra). The workshop is the final on-site event of the transcontinental online reading group on Energies Consciousness.

The day before, Ania Mauruschat will also give a public lecture on her field research in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) at the Sydney College of the Arts. For more information see here.

The workshop will take place on Thursday, March 2, 2023, from 10:00 to 16:00

Enter via the main entrance at Science Road, and turn right. On this corridor, the Rogers room is the last room on the right.

All are welcome. Due to limited space capacity, please register in advance under

For the program, zoom link, abstracts, and bios see below.


10:00 - 10:10 Acknowledgement to Country & Welcome by Joyce Hinterding,

Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney

10:10 - 11:40 Douglas Kahn (Katoomba, AUS):

"An Energy Reading of Jack Kerouac's On the Road"

11:40 - 12:00 Coffee Break

12:00 - 13:30 Ania Mauruschat (Copenhagen, DK/Berlin, GER):

"Sounding Crisis. Sounds & Energies within Climate Change"

13:30 - 14:30 Lunch Break

14:30 - 16:00 ​​Jenny Gräf Sheppard (Copenhagen, DK):

"Communicating Vessels: Re-defining Agency through Sounding"

16:00 Informal reception (nibbles & drinks) (open end)

Water, drinks, and nibbles will be provided. Coffee and lunch are byo. There any many places for coffee and lunch around within the walking distance. Directions will be provided.

Abstracts & bios:

Douglas Kahn:

An Energy Reading of Jack Kerouac's On the Road

The academic field of Energy Humanities was constituted presuming an equation of energy with sources and systems of fuel and power generation, and, in this way, it could be more properly called Energy Resource Humanities. Dr. Pia van Gelder (ANU) and I have questioned this presumption, given that artistic discourse otherwise rich in references to energies, did not make this equation, like the general populace, until the 1970s with the advent of the so-called energy crisis following the OPEC oil embargo. Patricia Smith Yaeger's foundational essay in Energy Humanities proposed an energy unconscious reading of literary texts, following Fredric Jameson's political unconscious, using Jack Kerouac's gas-guzzling On the Road (1957) as the prime example. This talk introduces what occurs when the novel is read through all of its energies.

Douglas Kahn, writer, historian and theorist of the arts, Honorary Professor, Sydney College of the Arts. Author of Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013) and Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999), and editor of Energies in the Arts (MIT Press, 2019), Mainframe: Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art, with Hannah Higgins (UC Press, 2012), Source: Music of the Avant-garde, 1966-1973, with Larry Austin (University of California Press, 2011), and Wireless Imagination:Sound, Radio and the Avant-garde, coeditor (MIT Press, 1992). Recent essays include "Birds: Memories and Meditations on Alvin Lucier" (Disclaimer, December 2021), and "What is an Ecopath" (Sydney Review of Books, 2020). Current project with Pia van Gelder is The Energies Artists Say.

Ania Mauruschat:

Sounding Crisis. Sounds & Energies within Climate Change

In the face of the climate crisis, this project researches the concept of ‘sonic agency’ within climate change discourse as an alternative knowledge of ‘energies’. Therefore it focuses on sound practices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists and artists in Denmark, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), and Australia. In contrast to the Western concept of ‘energy’ in sources and systems of fuel and power generation, it understands energies with the sound and energies' scholar Douglas Kahn as ‘multi-faceted and interrelated phenomena that emit sound and can be listened to in productive ways.' Sonic agency is defined in the context of this research project as ‘acoustic as well as electronically amplified and transmitted sounds as levers to the senses and creators of potential change’. This anthropological notion of sound encompasses both the sound practices of Indigenous peoples addressing environmental and relational issues as well as urban climate activism and its sound practices across all the sites in which it may be present, such as classical media reports, the a/v in social media, music, and street protests, artistic expressions and new techniques and practices. In her presentation, Ania Mauruschat will present examples from her field research in Denmark, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), and Australia and discuss the core questions and challenges of her research project Sounding Crisis.

Ania Mauruschat is a German media studies scholar and lecturer, focussing on sound and radio, currently based in Copenhagen (DK). Trained as a journalist and as an editor and educated in the humanities and social sciences at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (Germany), she worked from 2002 to 2012 full-time for public radio stations. From 2012 to 2014 she worked as a scientific assistant, lecturer, and project manager in media aesthetics at the University of Basel (Switzerland). 2018 to 2023 she was a member of the interdisciplinary Ph.D. lab (doctoral program) “Epistemologies of Artistic Practices” at the Collegium Helveticum in Zurich (Switzerland). The title of her Ph.D. is „Radiophonics, Noise & Understanding. Towards an Epistemology of Radio Art“ (University of Basel / Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland). From September 2021 to 2023 she is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Postdoc Fellow within the Horizon Europe program of the European Commission. Her research project “Sounding Crisis. Sounds and Energies within Climate Change” is hosted at the Sound Studies Lab of the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).

Jenny Gräf Sheppard:

Communicating Vessels: Re-defining Agency through Sounding

Sound and sonic practices offer us particular insights into how humans know and live planetary relations. How might we expand the sensorium to apprehend the various energies within sound? Sheppard will discuss her recent works, sounding objects called speaker-instruments, that transduce sound noisily in various ways. Her performances with these create conditions for encounters that provoke and extend the range of sensibilities for apprehending sound. Working with sensory experiences through performative sonic practice contributes to her attempt to re-orientating the self and our vocabularies around the art of noticing our more-than-human ecologies. Through a discussion of practices of sounding and a presentation of her artistic work, Jenny Gräf Sheppard opens up a discussion around the transformative potential for attending to both heard and unheard aspects of sound.

Jenny Gräf Sheppard is a Copenhagen-based musician and artist who works in the multi-sensory aspects of sound in performance and tactile sculptural instruments. She earned a BA from Hampshire College, Amherst/MA, and an MFA in Time Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her Ph.D. project »Communicating Vessels: Re-defining Agency through Sounding« (2020-2023) contains theoretical and practice-based research in which she explores agency from different perspectives using the concept of 'Sounding'. Sounding proposes a porosity in distinctions between listening and producing sound, re-framing sonic relationships and agencies. 2016- 2020 she worked as an associate professor at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi and served as head of the Laboratory for Sound. She has received two ministry of culture grants for multi-year artistic research projects: Sounding Bodies: Researching Sound in and Between Bodies, and Sonic Orientations Ambisonics Project.


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