Sound art


Gillian Lever's art practice explores sound and memory, the voice and narrative, and sound spatiality. She makes finely detailed, meticulously constructed works that engage with personal histories and resonate with the embodied listener. Her nuanced approach to creating immersive sound extends the intimate into the universal.

Click to skip to specific projects:

2018 --- Sustain and release --- bird heart --- formication

2017 --- Queen of the Should --- With Love, Janey-E --- Only the only ---                                        ---  nostalgia cloud 1 --- proprioception --- Linear path

2016 --- transmit a signal --- bird piece --- surgical organism

2015 --- Dissipate --- cell

2018 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sustain and release

Sustain and release is a work designed to be reiterated over time into successive sites, in order to investigate the effect of composed sound on a listening space.

Sustain and release has been presented at:

The Resident’s Gallery, Montsalvat, as a 10 day solo exhibition, presented as an 8 channel, site responsive sound installation, 9th to 20th January, 2019.

Murmurations Spatial Sound Festival, Sunday 7th October 2018, as a live diffusion.

bird heart

16 channel sound work

bird heart is a multichannel sound work examining feelings of arrhythmia, imbalance and anxiety in miniature and in flocks.

bird heart was first presented as part of a performance by Starlings Spatial Sound Collective on 3rd May 2018 at New Order, an Art Party at RMIT First Site Gallery, in conjunction with SIAL and RMIT Galleries.

New Order showcased new multichannel sound works by members of Starlings Spatial Sound Collective, Melbourne’s newest explorers of immersive sound in space, in conjunction with RMIT’s SIAL Sound Studios.
The performance utilised a mixture of live diffusion and automated spatial sound strategies to murmurate throughout the inverted city-soundscape of the 16-channel sound system installed at First Site Gallery.
New Order invited the listener on a journey to redefine their understanding of the acoustic environment, creating a surreal and sonorous sonic terrain sparking the imagination to the possibilities that lie beneath the world of everyday sound.


Allowing the private anxiety of creeping time to spread into the public, formication examines unsettled feelings and small, niggling irritations.

Pictured: installation view at CLIP presents MATTER, 1-15 April 2018 at Open Space Galleries, Collingwood.


2017 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Queen of the Should

Stereo recording

A story about loneliness and/or solitude.
Listen with headphones.

Available for streaming / purchase on Bandcamp.

Queen of the Should (2017) installation at RMIT Graduation Show, Nov 2017.

Performance setup for SIAL SSCAD concert, October 2017

Performance setup for SIAL SSCAD concert, October 2017

With Love, Janey-E

stereo recording for multichannel sound diffusion

Performed at SIAL SSCAD concert, 5th October 2017 at Design Hub, RMIT, Melbourne; and at CLIP presents Soundings, Bus Projects, Collingwood, Melbourne, 29th October 2017.

Live recording made with binaural dummy head microphones during SSCAD concert performance. Listen using headphones only.

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Only the only

sound installation; stereo sound with physical interface

How do you feel when you are alone?
What influences a person’s response to solitude?
Are you lonely? Or do you enjoy being alone? Are you introverted or extroverted?
Investigating the continuum that disagrees with these dichotomous states, Only the Only allows and/or fixes your solitary state.

Exhibited at CLIP presents Soundings, Bus Projects, Collingwood, Melbourne, 29th October 2017.

Installation view, Bus Projects, October 2017

Installation view, Bus Projects, October 2017

nostalgia cloud 1

publication and soundtrack

The self is an illusory aggregate of filtered memories. Nostalgia allows us to feel that our identity is continuous and concrete, and informs ideas of community and place. My project aims to both foster and question this sense of continuity in self.

How can the self be varyingly constructed from memory fragments? Which of these variants is created during each passing moment of a person’s life, and why?
Nostalgia cloud uses sound and text to form, then contest the idea of a sublimated self, constructed from memories.


Multiple versions of personal identity are presented, assembled from fragments of my recorded memories.


5.1 surround recording

This project incorporates ideas around proprioception and body mapping, and causes a listener to physically feel a kind of resonance with the work within their own body. The use of multichannel technology in this work creates an immersive environment for an audience, enabling a feeling of enclosure within the work and dissolving boundaries of self / self perception.


Linear path

stereo recording

Linear path is a soundscape composition developed from recordings made over several weeks along a pathway running between two residential streets near my house. I recorded several walks along the linear path, as well as making a number of recordings while standing still at various points along the pathway.

This is a path I have walked hundreds of times. I have walked along this path hurriedly, stressed at times, but at other times slowly and with conscious focus on my audible and visual surroundings. By juxtaposing walking versions with recordings from a still position, I am contrasting the tendency to travel through a place unthinkingly, with that of engaged concentration. I am interested in how multiple impressions or memories build up a perceived sense of place.

Visually, this is a very still place. There are tall gums and fallen logs, and a concrete path leading through the grass. Fences bordering backyards line both sides for the whole length of the path. In the absence of path-travellers, and aside from the ubiquitous birds above, the visual landscape is static unless there is a strong wind. But during many of my visits, there are people constantly moving back and forth, and the surrounding suburban activity - cars, trucks, planes, lawnmowers - makes the place aurally dynamic. The sound of my own footsteps, or another person, animal or vehicle, moving from one place to another, is an almost constant aural presence.

The piece also comments on the nebulousness of place built up through multiple visits - this path exists in my memory as hundreds of different fragments, all layered and filtered through each other to build up an overall image or soundworld. By tuning into this created world, sometimes moving and sometimes still, the listener can feel as if it is moving through their consciousness, as they seem to move through its aural spatiality. By constructing this piece as a soundscape in the way that Hildegard Westerkamp might do, editing multiple takes into a single ‘walk’, I am combining these multiple impressions into a constructed, imaginary whole. As Westerkamp herself says; “the essence of soundscape composition is the artistic, sonic transmission of meanings about place, time, environment and listening perception” (Westerkamp 1999).

The meanings created through presenting a composed soundworld in this way are necessarily filtered through the artist’s perspectives and thoughts. LaBelle comments on how the artist’s listening “... stitch(es) subjectivity into the world” (LaBelle 2006, p. 209). LaBelle argues that removing sound from its source causes displacement; “just as much placelessness as place” (p.211), but that this dislocation may allow the finding of a new place, one that is poetically created by the artist. The new place I intend to construct is a composite of the experiences I have collected in my memory of this place over time, one which is made to shift and move in the listener’s mind as if walking through it, and allegorical to the brain’s workings as it recalls multiple memories of being present there.


2016 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

transmit a signal, resounding the edifice, that contained leaked out

sound installation

transmit a signal, resounding the edifice, that contained leaked out was a site-specific sound installation, created in collaboration with Mino Peric for (no) signal’s EDIFICE, 26th June 2016, a site-specific accelerated residency at a family home in Brunswick, Melbourne.



Bird piece

5.1 surround recording

A shifting, multichannel work created using recordings made at Healesville Sanctuary’s aviaries. Birdsong and distant dingoes transform into an otherwordly environment surrounding the listener.


surgical organism

Live performance on built instrument

surgical organism explores extension and expansion, and how objects and ideas can become disordered, broken and unable to fit back into their original place or space. It is at once biological and mechanical, cold and reminiscent of the body’s skeleton. Its sound and the shadows it throws grow like an expanding cell clump, and evoke the transformation of bodies, objects and materials that can never go back to how they began.


2015 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


sound installation

This work was created in response to dissipation of the perceived space of a heard sound when vision is impaired. Sound source is more difficult to locate precisely when vision is not sharp. The fabric sound-objects are suspended in the exhibition space, and emit sound which interacts physically with a fog of external sound played back via room speakers. Beating effects blur the boundaries of the sound-objects, and walking around the installed work allows these blurred boundaries to shift in time and space.



“Composers are thinking now of a timeless kind of depth; that is, of going into a sound-space, rather than moving horizontally along it.” - Alvin Lucier


[Source: Lucier A & Margolin A 1981-2, ‘Conversation with Alvin Lucier‘, Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 20, No. ½ (Autumn, 1981 - Summer, 1982), pp. 50-58].


stereo recording

cell explores dream memory, narrative gaps and the night-mare. ‘Cell’ has multiple meanings, each relevant to the brain’s way of dealing with unpleasant thoughts, memories and situations.