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person dancing through laser lights

The Shape of Sound


Coventry University Group City of Culture Grant

Value to Coventry University


PI and Project Team Members

Petra Johnson (PhD) - independent artist-researcher based in Stourbridge, UK; affiliated with Making Lab, Tongji University, China

Lily Hayward-Smith - Research Assistant, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University

Vipavinee Artpradid (PhD) - former Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University

Karen Wood - Assistant Professor, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University

Louisa Petts - PhD researcher, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University

Duration of Project

February - June 2022

Project Overview

The Shape of Sound, is an interdisciplinary exploration into the relationship between movement, touch and sound. Creatively interpreting the anatomy of the inner ear, collaborators are developing performances and workshops in the Coventry community to bring awareness to this embodied technology.

The reason we are able to hear is because of movement and touch. Through movement and making we creatively amplify the physical process that takes place within our bodies. The sound waves enter the ear and a series of movements occur within the inner ear that in turn allows us to hear that sound. Drawing from weaving, a socio-economic practice that shaped Coventry, the dance artists interpret that process and explore movement and touch with an artist’s interpretation of the inner hair cells in the form of a hanging warp of silk threads. Our research exploration goes further into how sound connects us to the external world around us, we are interested in deepening that connection and exploring how sound is experienced in different places and by different people now and in the past and also what role silence plays in this part of our senses.

The collective has recently been awarded a Coventry University City of Culture grant to support public engagement activities. The collaborators, Karen Wood, Lily Hayward-Smith, Louisa Petts (C-DaRE), Petra Johnson and Vip Artpradid (Independent) are developing workshops and performances to take into local schools and community groups. We are very pleased to be working with the Historic Coventry Trust to further develop the project and explore bringing the work into the Anglican Church and the Applestore at Charter House.

We are developing a number of workshops for the different groups we are interacting with. Broadly, participants will be working with moving and making to (re)discover the embodied intelligence. They will explore materials that made Coventry a centre of the textile industry - wool and silk –  and experience a movement session, that will involve deep listening to the body and using movement to explore dynamics and interact with the installation.

For the performances in the Anglican Church we will invite audience members to first join a meditative walk to the performances spaces and ask them to pay attention to listening to what’s around them and their own internal landscape. After the performances and discussion, they will have the opportunity to interact with the installation of threads.

Project Objectives

  • The haptic/tactile experience of sound through embodied technologies within our hearing mechanism and their transition through the states of vibrations, pressure, and touch.
  • The experience of research through haptic/tactile experiences and embodied technologies (such as our hearing mechanism and hands via sculpting)
  • Developing a criticality (asking questions) around the distancing created through reliance on technology and how corporeal and embodied experiences can help to bring us closer to our inherent nature of being connected to ourselves and others through vibrations, rhythms, and mimesis.
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