Invisible Places 2017 Poster

Invisible Places 2017

Sound, Urbanism and Sense of Place

7, 8 & 9 April 2017

São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Many studies engaged with acoustic ecology have focused on urban environments, motivated by increasing concerns about the sensory impoverishment related to the dominance of anthropogenic sound associated with traffic and other types of transport, machinery from industry or construction, alarm signals and other sounding activities, which often mask and interfere with our living environment. These anthropogenic sounds have tended to be linked to a lack of environmental quality, as they inhibit the perception of other natural sounds. The sounds of the wind, the water, the voicing of certain animals originating from natural landscapes often contrast with human sounds in urban landscapes. They often share the same physical characteristics as measured by volume, duration, frequency or tone, but are experienced by humans differently. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder, we could say.

Soundscapes are part of any ecosystem and a fundamental manifestation of life. Every individual and species contributes and responds differently to a given sonic context with its own perceptual mechanism and will use diverse communication strategies. Development processes and urbanization have directly influenced the environment, often in negative ways that eliminate or diminish unique sounds, causing loss of social identity and cultural diversity.

Processes that occur in a landscape create patterns of sounds that can be identified. In turn, the entire phenomenon that inhibits or prevents effective acoustic communication can have consequences for the survival of individuals, species and ultimately, entire ecosystems. As our natural soundscapes morph and shrink, threats of extinction increase.

The future of cities is often related to the idea of city as a living environment dependent on and enriched by technology. A city should be seen as a sustainable community, where living organisms coexist and interact with man-made technologies integrated in our everyday life. Landscape therefore reflects the way humans interact with their natural world while organizing space and time. In this sense, landscape ecology should be expanded conceptually and imaginatively to encompass all the possible dimensions of human relations with and within the environment, including its living components.

The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars, artists and theoreticians on soundscape art and ecology and encourage them to present new perspectives that will further interdisciplinary research and practice. We still know little about the complex relationships between landscapes and soundscapes or the significance of acoustic ecology for all living organisms including ourselves. Focused study and intentional stewardship of our sound heritage for the holistic evaluation of landscapes is fundamental to the evolution of all species, and will have a great impact on the survival of many. This will be a central topic to be discussed.


Hildegard Westerkamp

Hildegard Westerkamp

Hildegard Westerkamp is a composer, radio artist and sound ecologist. She presents soundscape workshops and lectures internationally, performs and writes.

Sam Auinger

Sam Auinger

Sam Auinger is a sonic thinker, composer and sound-artist, who collaborates with city planers and architects regularly. He works together with the composer Bruce Odland as O+A, exploring the central theme of hearing perspective. Auinger has received numerous prizes and awards for his work.

Call for Papers

We are looking for works that reflect (but are not limited to) the following topics:

Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words; selection will be made by double-blind peer review.

Call for Artistic Residencies

The international symposium Invisible Places is pleased to announce a call to artists from around the world who work with sound and field recordings for this unique residency program.

Between 3-5 artists will be selected to live and work in the island of São Miguel for up to 4 weeks prior to the symposium. During the residency, artists will have the opportunity to develop their artistic project in conjunction with the acoustic environment that the island offers. The projects may be presented in the form of performances, concerts or sound installations. Applicants must demonstrate an environmental approach and focus their work on the island as a rich system of endemic and ecological information.

The residency offers accommodation for up to one month. Candidates will have to provide their own travel costs and food expenses.

The selection process may require videoconference meetings with candidates to discuss and define the details of their proposals. The projects will need to give Invisible Places authorization to document the working processes by audio and video for documentary purposes, assuming that it might be used later under Creative Commons licenses.

Call for Workshops & Soundwalks

Candidates who wish to experiment with new research methodologies and approaches to soundscapes, and would like to perform in the form of workshops and soundwalks open to the local community will be selected to participate as part of Invisible Places’s programming. Proposals that focus on the importance of listening to the preservation of memory and cultural heritage will be favored.


All proposals should be submitted via EasyChair;

Submissions must be original and will be rigorously reviewed by the scientific committee;

Reviewing will be double-blind for abstracts, please omit all information about authors in these submissions;

Reviewing for Artistic Residencies, Workshops and Soundwalks will be single-blind, please include links to previous works or an artistic portfolio in your application;

At least one of the authors of each selected submission must register to Invisible Places before the registration deadline in order for the work to be accepted for presentation and published in the proceedings;

Invisible Places's working language is English;

Invisible Places's proceedings (with ISBN) will be published online;

Important Dates


Registration to Invisible Places 2017 will be of 65€, reduced fee of 30€ for students.

Organising Committee

Scientific Committee

Invisible Places was first organized in Viseu in 2014.