The Sound of Seeing – sonic experiment in Aotearoa Artists' Film and Video 1973-2020

The Pyramid Club
Oct 30, 2020

The Sound of Seeing is a series of three film screenings which present an alternative history of Aotearoa experimental music, seen through the prism of artists film and video 1973-2020.

Presented by CIRCUIT and Epic Sweep Records in association with The Pyramid Club, all of the films demonstrate an instrumental relationship between sound and image.

We begin with a work by Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka entitled Come for a walk (2020). Shot during Covid 19 lockdown, the video features a dawn karakia performed by the artist's mother, who asks Tāwhirimatea and Tangaroa to carry her prayer “to help those in need”. As the karakia performed by Ruka’s mother rolls out from shore to sea, the dawn rises into view.

In Lissa Mitchell’s animated 16mm film Bowl Me Over (1995), Fever Hospital accompany the artists hand-drawn road trip with a  soundtrack of raucous clamour, evoking highway acceleration and sudden vistas of tingling lakes. Onscreen, the artist presents a Sound Island of endless roads, noting forgotten histories of New Zealand art inscribed in the passing landscape, and the looming presence of modern economic development.

Gavin Hipkins' City of Tomorrow (2017) explores the architecture of Indian city Chandigarh through Le Corbusier's early writings on repetition and order. Like the utopian ideal of the images onscreen, nothing in Torben Tilly’s soundtrack suggest the spoiling influence of human presence; the quiet electronic score unfurls and accompanies the images in a state of independent synthesis.  

Several films use sound to bring historical materials into the present. Janet Lilo's Untitled (2019) features a Haka originally written in 1915 by Waimarama Puhara. Eli Jenkins' Prayer (2016) features an audio recording of the New Zealand Male Choir made in 2010 which was later reworked by artist Aliyah Winter into a performative video which embodies the continuity of queerness through time and space.

Curated by Mark Williams and Epic Sweep records, The Sound of Seeing series was programmed not by watching the films, but by extracting the audio, and sequencing the screening like a record. The first two evenings have been imagined as a double vinyl album using existing films, and are divided into Side 1, Side 2, Side 3, Side 4.

Nights One and Two conclude with a live performance. The third night on Friday 13 October - The Sound of Seeing Live! - new live audio commissions and a major new sound and visual work by Jamie Berry. CIRCUIT is also proud to partner with The Pyramid Club to include two soundtracks commissioned by The Pyramid Club and supported by Creative New Zealand as part of their project Unmaking the Near Future.

The Sound of Seeing takes it's name from a 1963 film set in Wellington which synchronised images of the city with an experimental score by Robin Maconie. The Sound of Seeing series is not only a new way of imagining the history of experimental music in Aotearoa, it is also the first time some of these films have been shown in public for many years.

Our thanks to the many artists who have contributed to this project. Thanks also to our major sponsor, Wellington City Council, and The Pyramid Club, not only for their hosting of this programme but their ongoing support of the experimental sound community in Aotearoa.

Participating artists:

Night 1 (30 October)


1. Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka, Come for a Walk (2020) 5.30 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Karakia performed by Jane Mihingarangi Ruka (Ngati Pakau, Ngapuhi, Waitaha)

2. Lissa Mitchell, Bowl Me Over (1995) 5.12 minutes, 16mm film transferred to Digital Video
Soundtrack by Fever Hospital

3. Terry Urbahn, sPEECHless (1998) 5.30 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Original song by The Stranglers (1977). Re-recorded and performed by Andrew Thomas

4. Gavin Hipkins, City of Tomorrow (2017) 11 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack by Torben Tilly

5. Rachel Shearer, North Head (2003) 3.48 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack by Rachel Shearer


1. Christopher Ulutupu, Manaonao (2011) 3.51 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack ‘Mana'ona'o Fa'aele'ele Naumati (trad)’ performed by Josephine Chadwick, Katie Uilaau Chadwick, Isitolo Alesana

2. Bryce Galloway, Dirty Dirt (2019) 3.47 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack by Wendyhouse

3. Richard Von Sturmer, Charlotte Wrightson, Derek Ward, The Search for Otto (1986) 15 minutes, 8mm film transferred to digital video
Soundtrack by Jed Town

4. Aliyah Winter, Eli Jenkins Prayer (2016) 2.16 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack by Ieuan Evans with the New Zealand Male Choir, Queen's St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle (UK) (2010). Audience recording by Nancy Evans with a Sony Cassette Recorder.

New Commissions

Jill Kennedy, Investigations 101 (2020) 3.03 minutes, Digital Video, Sound
Soundtrack (recorded) by Emma Bernard (Ludus)

Lissa Mitchell, Rain (1998) 8.40 minutes, 16mm film transferred to digital video
Soundtrack (live) by Emma Bernard (Ludus)

Night 2 (6 November)

Nova Paul, Bic Runga
David Downes
Nathan Thompson, Expansion Bay and Del
Popular Productions, Tone Cornaga, George Hubbard
Sean Grattan, James Duncan, Mireya Lucio
Kim Pieters, William Henry Meung
Janet Lilo, Harry Lilo, Owairaka District School, Waimarama Puhara
The Parasitic Fantasy Band
Clinton Watkins, Seung Yul Oh, Erika Grant

Night 3 (13 November)

Laura Duffy, Erika Grant, Isaac Smith, Rosie Langabeer
Jamie Berry
Chrissie Butler
Thomas Carroll
Simon Cuming