Auditory Learning

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Auditory Learning is part of Eileen Simpson & Ben White's ongoing project to find and distribute out-of-copyright archvie material. Sourcing vinyl 45 rpm records of chart hits from 1962 - the last year that commercial recordings can be retreived for public use, due to recent copyright revisions - the artists have extracted over 50,000 sounds to produce a 'pubic sonic inventory'.

Within the gallery, modified turntables play a new sound work assembled from the inventory of indidual notes, percussive elements and vocal snippets. The surrounding graphic fragments recall vinyl 7 inch printed paper sleeves.

Auditory Learning will change and develop throughout the exhibition tour. Reassembled as part of a live event during British Art Show in Leeds, in SOuthampton it will form the soundtrack for a new film produced with a group of local teenagers.

All work is copyleft licensed and available to download or cut-on-demand.


Auditory Learning was commissioned for British Art Show 8
Curated by Anna Colin and Lydia Yee

Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds
9 October 2015 – 10 January 2016

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh
13 February – 8 May 2016

St Georges Building, Norwich University of the Arts, Norwich
24 June - 4 September 2016

Bargate Monument, Southampton
9 October - 15 January 2017

Public Sonic Inventory

Sounds extracted from 1962 chart hit vinyl 45s – the last year that commercial recordings can be retrieved for public use until 2034, due to recent copyright revisions – to produce a public sonic inventory

Launch inventory


Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds


Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh

IMG 4149.JPG British-Art-Show-8 12FEB2016-43.jpg

St Georges Building, Norwich


Bargate Monument, Southampton

ESBWAuditoryLearning2.jpg Auditory-learning-still-02.jpg Auditory-learning-still-14.jpg Test


This film, commissioned for British Art Show 8, was shot on location in the anechoic chamber – a completely echo-proof room – at the University of Southampton. It explores archival retrieval triggered by contemporary voice, and features a soundtrack composed entirely of sounds gleaned from out-of-copyright chart hit records from 1962.

The artists worked with a group of local teenagers from Newtown, Southampton skilled in emceeing and spoken word performance. In the anechoic chamber – part recording booth, part performance space, part computer science laboratory – each member of the group was invited to take up the microphone and use their voice to test out and play with beats, melodies and percussive sounds. Their recorded voices were then processed using information retrieval software to match them to the copyright-expired archival sounds, retrieved from the chart hit records.

The film also features archival footage of a local group performing a cover version of ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, and recalls the history of sample culture, where musicians and producers would routinely rip sounds from commercial hits of previous generations.

In the film, the individual and collective voices of the group generate a ‘script’ for archival recall, recorded sounds are stretched and warped to match live sounds, and voices activate the playback of public domain archival fragments to form a multi-layered, polyphonic chorus.


Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival @ British Art Show 8

Thursday 26 November

Leeds Art Gallery - Tiled Hall
The Headrow, Leeds

Free event


This event reanimated both public domain archive material and copyleft recordings generated by the artists and their collaborators. The event brought together for the first time a live remix of a new work produced the British Art Show 8 alongside the presentation of two recent Open Music Archive projects.

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Additional Exhibitions

Auditory Learning was also exhibited as part of:

Eileen Simpson and Ben White (Open Music Archive): Once Heard Before
Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
27th August 2019 – 5th January 2020

Eileen Simpson and Ben White: Open Music Archive
Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, UK
14th June 2019 - 18th August 2019


Short documentary films about Auditory Learning were produced by Hayward Touring: Eileen Simpson and Ben White, Auditory Learning (2015) at BAS8

and Summerhall TV: Ben White : Auditory Learning