The world is in a state of crisis. This acceleration of complexity, together with issues such as climate change and a growing suspicion in regards to the power for change through political or cultural means leave us with the need for concepts that can help us understand these times of turmoil. Noise is such a concept. Therefore, it is not surprising to see an emerging interest in noise in different fields and systems as diverse as information theory; music and sonology; AI and machine learning; capitalism and finance; aesthetics; biophysiopsychosociology; complexity; etc.

Coherence, consistency, predictability and order are well-known and related concepts which have been paramount to the statisticoscientific ethos of the 20th century. As we enter the new millennium it has become more and more apparent that disarray, chaos, unpredictability and, particularly, noise, are not simply the 'disorganized' counterparts to these notions but actually harbor generative conceptual means to move beyond this elusive diametric opposition. The social and technical legacies of those developments are still reverberating, but in the 21st century, amidst a cascade of upheavals and crises in the ecological, economic, social, and aesthetic spheres, and as we move further into a digital, automated, hyperconnected paradigm, the meaning of noise has begun to be radically altered again and urgently demands to be rethought.

Since the seventeenth century, with the development of probability theory, there has been a significant shift in the understanding of order and randomness, not only abstractly but bound up with a new statistical form of social power, colonial expansion, and the onset of capitalism. In the nineteenth century this shift gave rise to statistical mechanics and dynamic systems theory, which paralleled an increasing attainment of fine control over matter and life at the same time as a dawning realization of fundamental uncontrollability. It was in the early twentieth century that the episteme was completely transformed again with the redefinition of the concepts of information and noise in information theory, computability theory, and cybernetics. This had massive scientific, philosophical, political, and artistic consequences, and there was again a simultaneous expansion and intensification of forms of control and resistance in all domains of human activity. As a result, in the 20th century the role of aesthetics as traditionally understood has been put into question, and noise disrupted the way music was practiced and perceived, becoming central to sonic and artistic practices at large as both compositional material and conceptual inspiration.

21st century noise resounds across globalized neoliberal capture, burgeoning AI power, the rise of platform economies and transnational corporate empires and all their implications: neocolonialism, cyberwarfare, sweatshops, predictive policing, etc. If 20th century noise was a centrally broadcast symphonic maelstrom, 21st century noise is a user-generated cacophony that has amplified existing forms of exclusion and exclusivity. Noise in music and sound art both expresses this situation and enacts resistance to it. How can we listen to it with new ears? Is it possible to hear the structural conditions that produce in us psychological pathologies and bring us to the mental states of noise? Is it possible to improvise a non-exclusionary future amongst this noise? Can the scales of its risk asymmetry be altered? Can noise be harnessed not for competitive profit but for collective benefit? Is a new noise possible? Could this noise bring political agency?

As a way to answer these questions we propose diagramming workshops as an open door into noise’s multidisciplinary (re)interpretation. These events bring together (para-)academic transdisciplinary practitioners looking to examine the complexity and vastness of phenomena ranging from cognition to corporeality and culture, through the lens of noise.



UWE Bristol, May 2024

Exact dates and times TBA.


Bidston Observatory, October/November 2023

November 20-26, 2023.

Sonic and Somatic Transdisciplinary Research and Practice Program (SSTRAPP).

SSTRAPP’s second program is dedicated to noise. Each day will begin with a presentation of theory, led by the six members of the Noise Research Union (Cécile Malaspina, Mattin, Miguel Prado, Sonia de Jager, Martina Raponi, and Inigo Wilkins). These sessions will explore a range of topics, including the many senses of noise, computation and cybernetics, and noise in the theories of information; they will explore acoustic and psychoacoustic noise, the noise of technical filters, ancient noisicians and the modern amplification of noise; unsilencing and noise as resistance, diasporic musicking and concurrent noise; sonicliminal affects and noise at the borders of sense; social dissonance, objective phenomenology, and experimental languages and transumweltic variations. Following discussions related to these topics, the afternoons will be devoted to practical projects inspired by the notions of sound capture and fugitive noise, taking a variety of experimental routes, from working with samples and loops to exploring the latent space of the voice. You’ll work in a group to devise an installation or performance inspired by what you’ve learned, with the final day consisting of performances and presentations.

Horror in Philosophy, September 2023

Conference participation (postponed until further notice)

Format: The group would have presented diagram sonifications, noise research as well as conduct a diagramming workshop.

STRP Festival, Eindhoven, April 2023

Saturday May 15th 2023

12:00-13:00 - Online soundscape.

13:00-15:30 - Presentation and Q&A.

Format: The group will present their research as well as conduct a diagramming workshop.

STRP Scenario #22: Silence, (im)possible absences (check website for exact location updates).

We welcome participants of all backgrounds to join the discussion. Please sign up to the workshop by sending a few lines about your interest in participating to noiseresearchunion at protonmail dot com. Given limited capacity we will have to keep the size of the group under 30 people. The main tasks during the workshop will be those of dialogue and diagramming. We will discuss interpretations together, identify some common lines of thought and divide into groups in order to explore these in depth by way of diagrams. We will reconvene and attempt to morph the group diagrams into collective ones. Our approach is nondisciplinary and completely open to questions and challenges, we are united by our interest in noise but not by our individual interpretations. FYI: the workshop process will be filmed, for the most part. Should you want to remain unfilmed/anonymous please indicate this in advance.

Café OTO, London, May 2022

Wednesday May 18th 2022:

10:00-13:00 - Diagram workshop.

20:00-23:00 - Diagramatic Discompositions.

Format: Based on the diagrams produced during the morning workshop, the NRU will improvise a series of explanations and sonic (dis)compositions, worked out collectively through intermittent voiced/sounded steps. Starting off with a description and introduction into a diagram, the group will then move on to produce sounds. Thereafter, another diagram becomes talked about, followed by a sonic improvisation, and so forth. After this series of decompositional movements we move onto a break, and continue with different diagrams and sounds via the same format until the end of the evening. The audience is invited to participate, should they wish to join in interpreting the diagrams as well.

Café OTO, 18-22 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL, United Kingdom

Soopa, Porto, December 2021

Format: The group will present their research as well as conduct a 2-day diagramming workshop.

This event was partly made possible by V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam

SOOPA, 48 Largo da Fontinha, Porto


Cécile Malaspina, Inigo Wilkins, Martina Raponi, Mattin, Miguel Prado, Sonia de Jager

The NRU diagrams are collaborative creations of the workshop participants + NRU, and translated digitally by NRU + Diede van Ommen. Since its inception, NRU has been funded and supported by the NRU members, and depending on the event, also by: SOOPA, v2_ Rotterdam, Collège International de Philosophie, Bidston Observatory, Café OTO, and more.

For any questions please contact us at: noiseresearchunion at protonmail dot com

Still image credit: Abelian Sandpile Model rendered by Colt Browning, CC license.

Moving logo credit: Titus, donated to NRU.

Still logo credit: Adapted moving logo by NRU.