School of Music and Fine Art

Inspired Teaching Cutting Edge Research

Research Culture


Welcome to the world leading, interdisciplinary, and cutting edge research culture of the School of Music and Fine Art at the University of Kent. We are part of a leading research-intensive university. These pages convey a sense of our intensely dynamic research environment, which, in our School, includes a wide range of specialists involved in practice-based research and scholarship across disciplines, cultures and art forms. We are extremely proud of our international reputations as scholars and practitioners within the fields of Music, Fine Art and Event and Experience Design.

Research Excellence

In the REF 2014 the vast majority of our outputs were judged to be “internationally excellent or world-leading” placing us amongst the UK’s leading arts schools, with Arts at Kent ranked 1st for Research Power. All of our staff are research active and we have a diverse community of research students. We not only work across those research fields within the School, we also collaborate (in teaching and research) with colleagues and research centres across the university, including those within the following nationally acclaimed Schools: Arts (Drama and Theatre, Film, History of Art), Anthropology and Conservation, Architecture, Kent Business School, Computing, English, Sociology and Psychology.

Internationally Acclaimed Artists, Composers and Scholars

Our research environment is fuelled by the work of our celebrated artists, composers and scholars, whose work often overlaps in their use of sound and image. Our research culture is enhanced by the presence of a wide range of visiting colleagues (honorary professors, associate and assistant lecturers), as well as regular seminars and master-classes. Our Graduate Teaching Assistants and PhD students are practicing artists, musicians and technologists, with scholarly pursuits in a wide range of topics from progressive rock to the Memphis music scene, Film, Cretan music to piano reductions, sound art to the philosophy of art, music technology and composition to installations and sound image light connections.

Research Centre

Our dynamic interdisciplinary culture is platformed through the Sound–Image–Space Research Centre (SISRC) and further developed through a rich programme of research seminars and symposia. This center takes ‘sound’ ‘image’ and ‘space’ in the widest senses of the terms, space may be physical, psychic, conceptual or pictorial, an image can be 2d, 3d or of thought and sound, phenomenological or environmental.


Past Events


Sticky Thick: Thinking through Practice - School of Music and Fine Art Annual Practice Research Forum - 7th June 2017, (11:00-17:00)

Location: Galvanising Shop Performance Space, Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Keynote Speakers: Jaime Del Val, transdisciplinary media artist, philosopher, activist, Director of the Metabody Institute:; artists and filmmakers Ruth MacLennan, Sarah Turner, Shona Illingworth, Tim Meacham and Luciano Zubillaga; electroacoustic composer Aki Pasoulas; environmental scientist Joseph Tzanopoulos and Yvonne Salmon,

STICKY THICK, the annual practice as research forum hosted by the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, and the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre (SISRC), brings together artists, writers, filmmakers, philosophers, composers, performers and researchers across disciplines to investigate practice as research as a continuing process of invention, and explores its capacity to generate dynamic and challenging modes of enquiry. Now in its 3rd year this annual event forms a key part of the research culture and programme at SMFA, providing a platform for academics and research students to present and discuss their research with colleagues across the University and CHASE consortium, and with invited speakers.


METABODY 2017 Kent - Ontohacking Workshop conducted by Jaime del Val - 8th June 2017, (10:00-19:00)

Location: Galvanising Shop Performance Space at Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Keynote Speaker: Jaime del Val

Ontopolitics of perception in the Algoricene: Ecologies of indeterminacy in the Big Data Era
International Metabody Forum - IMF 2017

On Thursday 8th June, Jaime del Val, one of the most significant artists/ philosophers in Europe working at the transdisciplinary frontiers of body, subjectivity and the algorecene will present METABODY 2017 Kent - Ontohacking Workshop: Ontopolitics of perception in the Algoricene: Ecologies of indeterminacy in the Big Data Era. In the School of Music and Fine Art’s This workshop would offer participants a unique opportunity to explore some of the key questions driving current trans-disciplinary and practice based research through active participation with a leader in the field. This would enable artists and researchers alike to develop and test their research methods, and gain valuable insight into trans-disciplinary and practice based research processes and collaborative practice based investigation, thus opening up the potential of futurity, navigation and speculation within practice as research.

In the Big Data Era new threats to plurality emerge as strategies of preemption and modulation of behaviour of the human and nonhuman acquire increasing sophistication in algorithmic and Big Data environments. From Trump and the Brexit, whose victories were seemingly modulated through big data analytics, to cyberwar, and affective mass media politics, from ubiquitous surveillance, modulation of consumer's behaviours, capitalization of microgestures,  to the war fronts, a new turn to power is happening (which Brian Massumi calls Ontopower), focusing on capturing potentiality and emergence while operating in affective, not in ideological registers. Which is the underlying perceptual ecology of Ontopower, and most importantly, how to elaborate new modes of resistance to, and reinvention beyond, such modes of power and violence?

The event should interest visual artists, media artists, musicians, dancers, performers, actors, architects, philosophers, historians, anthropologists, technosientists, hackers, social workers and activists, gender hackers, body hackers, and neurodiverse people.

Jaime is the founder of -  a major European research project that questions the homogenisation of expressions induced by current information and control technologies.


Screening of Public House (96 mins), organized and sponsored by Kent’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies (UKC) and the Gulbenkian Cinema - 21st June 2017 ((18.45pm)

Location: Gulbenkian Cinema, University of Kent, Canterbury.

The Grierson Award nominated film Public House, which premiered in October 2015 at the BFI London Film Festival, is directed by award-winning artist Sarah Turner, SMFA’s Reader in Fine Art and Director of Research. The participatory documentary tells the story of the Ivy House Pub in Peckham, which was saved from development by local residents, and became the first asset of community value in the UK. The film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Sarah Turner, chaired by Thanos Zartaloudis (Kent Law School; AA School of Architecture and Co-director of KISS).

More info on other dates and venues for the film tour at

Public House will be distributed in the UK by artists’ moving image agency LUX.


The Sound and Image Research Centre is delighted to be partnering with the forthcoming School of Sound International Symposium: 19 - 22 April 2017

Location: Regent University, Regent Park, London NW1
Keynote Speakers: Catherine Alexander, Honor Beddard, Werner Cee, Mychael Danna, Stephen Deutsch, Mike Gunton, Gideon Koppel, Hans Peter Kuhn, George Home-Cook, Julian Henriques, Peter Middleton, Walter Murch, Annabelle Pangborn, Piers Plowright, Adam Roberts, Patsy Rodenburg, James Spinney, Sarah Turner, Mark Underwood and Hildegard Westerkamp.

The School of Sound is an intensive four day event created to encourage a cross-disciplinary approach to using sound in the arts and media, with a particular interest in the relation between sound and image. We explore what sound does, how we listen, and where that takes us.

Through a series of talks and masterclasses, you’ll be immersed in a world of imagination, invention and innovation. Listening to presentations from a diversity of incredible talents, you will be able to reflect on sound as something that is profoundly complex, entertaining and important.


The Sound of Memory Symposium: Sound-track/Sound-scape: 22 - 24 April 2017

Location: Zilkha Auditorium, Whitechapel High St, London and Goldsmiths, University of London.
Keynote Speakers: Hildegard Westerkamp, Sarah Turner and Lawrence Abu Hamdan

The Sound of Memory Symposium explores creative works and ideas situated at the interface of composers working in acoustic ecologies and artists working within social ecologies, where the primary engagement is a form of sonic ethnography. The overarching thematic is an exploration of how individual and cultural memory resonates in the shaping of social space. The Symposium will explore the broad domain of acoustic ecologies and soundscape’s engagement in place. The symposium is co-hosted by the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre (School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent), the School of Sound, and Goldsmiths University of London.


Listening, Spaces and the Sounding World: 16 June 2016 (11:30-17:30)

Location: Clock Tower Lecture Theatre, Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Aki Pasoulas

As part of Kent’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Spatial Studies (KISS) week-long festival of events, in collaboration with various Schools at both the Canterbury and Medway campuses, from 13th – 17th June 2016, the School of Music and Fine Art will be hosting a SISRC/KISS/CHASE research event in the Clock Tower Lecture Theatre (CT102), The Historic Dockyard Chatham, on Thursday 16 June from 11:30 to 17:30. The event is called Listening, Spaces and the Sounding World.

Sound, and how it functions with space and materials, is essential to our experience of the world around us. Aki Pasoulas, School of Music and Fine Art Senior Lecturer, and Director of MAAST (Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre) will lead a workshop on how sound interacts with space and listening at the innovative Sound-Image-Space Research Centre.


School of Music and Fine Art Annual Practice Research Forum at Whitstable Biennale - Sticky Thick: Thinking through Practice: 07 June 2016

Location: Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable.
Speakers: Shona Illingworth, Adam Chodzko, Sarah Turner, Duncan MacLeod, Amber Priestley, Gretchen Egolf and Sinéad Rushe, Tim Meacham, Jan Hendricks, Steve Klee and others.

THosted by the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, and the Sound-Image-Research Centre (SISRC), this one day symposium will bring together artists, writers, filmmakers, composers, actors, geographers, historians, anthropologists, architects, performers and researchers across disciplines to explore key directions in current research practice, and contemporary discourse around the importance of practice research in art, culture and society.

The day starts at 11:00, meeting for coffee in the Horsebridge Arts Centre to listen to readings from Rebecca Solnit's The Faraway Nearby. Symposium presentations begin in the United Reform Church Hall from 12:00, with breaks at intervals to view Biennale exhibits. The symposium closes with drinks on the beach at 19:00 before the world premiere of Nichola Bruce's new film Gifts.


Denis Smalley’s 70th Birthday Celebration: 21 May 2016 (16:30-18:00)

Location: The event will be held at Colyer-Fregusson Concert Hall, Canterbury.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Simon Emmerson.

Colyer-Fergusson will host the world premiere of Denis Smalley’s newly commissioned work by the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, celebrating his 70th birthday. Professor Denis Smalley is one of the world's leading acousmatic composers and a scholar and pioneer of electroacoustic music. His works have been widely acclaimed, winning a number of international awards. He has made original contributions to thinking about sound, in particular with his investigations into listener's perception and the notion of spectromorphology. In 2013 he became Honorary Professor at the University of Kent.

Professor Simon Emmerson, who worked closely with Denis Smalley, will give a pre-concert talk on the continuing influence of music and theories developed by Smalley; the session will include a QA with both composers and will be broadcast on Resonance FM. The talk and discussion is for anyone who is interested in listening strategies, perception, reception and the sound world in general – not only music. Simon Emmerson is one of the leading figures in the broad area of electroacoustic music and has published and edited seminal books and articles on live electronics. The event is kindly funded by the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre.


New Currents in Ethnomusicology: 14–17 April 2016

British Forum for Ethnomusicology: Annual Conference 2016

Location: The event will be held at venues around the Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Jonathan Stock, University College Cork.

The BFE invites you to attend its 2016 conference, which will be held at the Historic Dockyard on the banks of the River Medway at Chatham. There was no set theme for the conference. We have received proposals on a wide variety of topics under the rubric of ‘new currents’ or ‘current research’ within ethnomusicology. Papers with a nautical theme have been particularly welcome and will help set the scene for our dockyard location.


Spatial Syntax in Binaural Composition: 22 March 2016 (17:00)

Location: The event will be held in the Clocktower Building, Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Keynote Speaker: Dr Matt Barnard (University of Hull).

The binaural method of hearing represents our natural spatial register and employing binaural recording and/or synthesis methods in composition reveals peculiar characteristics of the method. Discussing a compositional practice that is now exploring a syntax of space as primary, the binaural method is explored in its creative manifestations. Can we compose music for human hearing?

Matthew Barnard is a composer and researcher primarily focused upon electronic music, including electronica, acousmatic and soundscape idioms. The field of spatial representation in sound, particularly ambisonics and the binaural method, are of interest.


Liquidity Symposium: Life flows, money flows and artists capture the axiomatics that bind these flows: December 2015

Location: The event will be held at Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), The Mall, London.
Organised by: Andrew Conio

Sponsored by the University of Kent and organised by Dr Andrew Conio, Programmes Director, Fine Art and Event and Experience Design, School of Music and Fine Art, this cross-disciplinary forum creates a provocative encounter between philosophy, geography, psychoanalysis, high finance, film, economics, art and activism. With papers from Professor Philip Goodchild, Professor John Russell, Oliver Ressler, Angus Cameron, Anastasios Gaitanidis, James Buckley, Georgious Papadopoulos and films from Ami Clarke and Hillary Koob-Sassen, the symposium at the Institute of Contemporary Art on 9th December investigates the flows of life, money and art and the axiomatics that bind them together.

Every society in history has created economic, social and political systems to channel flows into things, functional processes and systems. This symposium asks; to what extent do the Quadrillions of dollars channeled through markets every day determine the ontological horizons and conditions of possibility of life. How are the flows of money and life’s imminent flows consiliant or forced into disjunctive relation, how does the artist capture these flows?

The School of Music and Fine Art is proud to be working with the Institute of Contemporary Art, London’s foremost multi-disciplinary arts centre. Founded in 1947 by a group of artists, poets and radicals, the ICA is an essential meeting place for anyone interested in contemporary culture. Designed as a playground for ideas, the ICA has worked with a litany of inspired artists and writers, including T.S. Eliot, Cartier-Bresson, Francis Bacon, Jacques Derrida, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Yoko Ono and Slavoj Žižek.


Acousmatic Transcendence: A Feast of Diffusion: May 2015

The MAAST (Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre) will meet the Acousmonium from The Acousmatic Project / Vienna, for a feast of diffusion with more than 50 loudspeakers.

Location: The event will be held in the Mezzanine of Slip 3 at Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent.
Special guest: Jonty Harrison (will diffuse his own works and compositions by Denis Smalley).
Directors: Aki Pasoulas – Director of MAAST (Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre) and Thomas Gorbach – Director of The Acousmatic Project Vienna.


Realisms and Object Orientation: Art, Politics and the Philosophy of Tristan Garcia: December 2014

Contributors: Tristan Garcia, Dr Iain MacKenzie, Dr Peter Wolfendale, Dr Maria Walsh, Dr Steve Klee, Ben Turner, Annie Davey, Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau.

This multidisciplinary symposium seeks to interrogate philosophical realisms and object orientations within recent thought. The renowned philosopher Tristan Garcia will present, with his philosophical system providing the focus for a number of the papers. Artists’ contributions will explore this philosophical territory through performative practices.


The TÖNE Festival: A Meeting of Sound and Light: June 2014

Location: The event will be held at venues around the Historic Dockyard Chatham, as well off-site.
Artistic Directors: Claudia Molitor and Julie Louise Bacon

The Töne Festival was the first of its kind in Medway, organised and hosted by the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent.

Töne was a festival of sonic and visual arts that explores the spaces, forms and durations that exist within and between these two overlapping fields. The festival took place on the Midsummer weekend as the Sun rises to its zenith in the Northern hemisphere, a fact highlighted in the 2014 theme ‘A Meeting of Sound and Light’. 2014 also marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Töne’s broad range of new commissions invited audiences to explore and reflect on the aesthetic and political resonances of the military and maritime location of Chatham and the surrounding area, and the season.

The three key goals of the festival:

  • To profile challenging work resulting from artists’ experiments and research in the aural, visual, and spatial.
  • To nurture cross-pollination and conversation across the university, regional, and international arts communities.
  • To activate the dockyard campus as a hub for meeting, exchange and creative encounters in the local area and the Swale and Medway region.


Symposium of Acoustic Ecology: November 2013

A new symposium to celebrate the sounds and experiences of Acoustic Ecology took place in Medway.

The Symposium of Acoustic Ecology investigates soundscapes as complex sounding systems that change in space and time, and shape our understanding of the surrounding world. The event is proud to be endorsed by the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE).

The event was held at various locations around the University's Medway campus and the Historic Dockyard, and consist of talks by keynote speakers, including a special guest speaker all experts in their field, 2 concerts, an array of installations and Listening Rooms, culminating in a finale concert held at the stunning Slip 3, Mezzanine building at the Historic Dockyard Chatham.


The Sound of Memory - June 2013

The Sound of Memory symposium brought artists, composers, filmmakers and writers together to explore rich and complex interactions between sound and memory through theoretical debate grounded in creative practice. The presentations and panel discussions traced an arc from investigations into embodied and technological mediation of sound and memory through to a critical exploration of their interconnected spatial and temporal manifestations.

The morning session, "Embodied and Technological Mediation", examined the social, cultural, political and technological shifts that affect how, what and why we remember and how this offers new creative possibilities for the exploration, understanding and articulation of embodied and mediated memory and sound. Composer, sound artist and researcher, Cathy Lane reflected on her exploration of the relationship between sound, history and memory in her site specific multi-channel sound work “The Ties that Bind” and in ‘The Hebrides Suite’, a series of compositions resulting from sonic investigations of the Western Isles of Scotland. This was followed by an examination of the role of the witness in the articulation, mediation and construction of memory in politically charged contexts by curator, artist and filmmaker Sarah Wood. Composer and artist Claudia Molitor’s performance lecture then explored the capacity of music, imagined by the creator, then mediated through performance and space, to reside as a ‘non-sounding’ memory in the listener’s head. A panel discussion with the speakers, chaired by artist and lecturer Shona Illingworth, concluded this session.  

The afternoon session addressed the question “When/Where is the Present?” Each speaker, in their own fashion, interrogated common-sense assumptions about the relationship between past, present and future. Artist Jo Mitchell’s presentation focussed on her performance Concerto for Voice and Machinery II staged at the ICA, London in February 2007. She proposed that the logic of re-enactment, which underpins Concerto, might provoke “a kind of voodoo experience” serving to disrupt our perception that the past is dead and buried, a passive store, rather than an active agent in the construction of present and future.

Artist and writer Salome Voegelin used one of her own compositions as a springboard for theorising temporality and audio experience as both complex and fecund. Artist, writer and curator Julie Louise Bacon created an evocative performance, which combined live presentation and audio recordings made by a series of artist/theorist collaborators. The piece referenced oral culture as a means to explore notions of the archive. Artist Mikhail Karikis presented an overview of a rich body of work developed since 2009, entitled Work Quartet, which explores the relationship between vocal performance and cultural identity.

The session was concluded by a panel discussion with the speakers, chaired by artist and Shool of Music and Fine Art lecturer Steve Klee.


Sarah Turner talks about 'Pubilc House'.



Dr Ben Curry interviewed on Radio Kent about how we experience music.


What is Humanities Research?





School of Music and Fine Art - © University of Kent

The Old Surgery, The University of Kent, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent, ME4 4TZ, T: +44 (0) 1634888980

Last Updated: 30/11/2018