Speaker Series: Jessica Thompson, Friday February 12, 2021

Speaker Series: Jessica Thompson 

Friday February 12, 2021

FREE & Open to the PUBLIC 

The Guest Speaker 

Jessica Thompson is an Associate Professor of Hybrid Media at the University of Waterloo, where she teaches in the Department of Fine Arts and the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, is an affiliate researcher at the Games Institute, and is a founding member of UW’s Black Faculty Collective. Her artistic practice investigates the ways that sound reveals spatial and social conditions within cities, and how the creative use of urban data can generate new modes of citizen engagement.

The Talk 

Borderline is a mobile research-creation tool that uses sound, critical mapmaking and data analysis to create new understandings of place. Using algorithms trained to identify ~100 common sounds, the project enables users to map sounds in their urban environment, which can be played back whenever they return to the same location, creating a generative soundtrack of past sounds that fade in and out as you move through them. The data generated from these mobile soundscapes can be exported in an open format combined with other forms of urban data and mapped using any mapmaking software. In her talk, Thompson will discuss the research behind the project, including how urban data can be used to identify ‘borderlines’ of socioeconomic inequality, the delights and limitations of using neural nets to listen for you and how our understandings of sound closely align with systems of power.