Chris Wenn completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hon's) at The University of Melbourne in 2001 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Production (Sound Design) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2008. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University.

His research project, “Sound Design: A Phenomenarchaeology” argues that sound design in theatre exists between audience and sound designer in a complex relation to time, a relation that is recoverable through a metaphor of archaeological investigation. The thesis interrogates sound as voice, as music, as sound effect, as texture, and as noise, finding a shared resonance that emerges from an interaction of designer and audience unbounded by the time of a single showing of a work. This interaction exists in a complex temporal landscape of training, development, rehearsal, performance, witnessing and understanding that is made recoverable by its archaeological trace. I examine the relationship between sound designer, performance and audience using the metaphorical construct ‘Phenomenarchaeology’ — a portmanteau of ‘phenomenology’ and ‘archaeology’ that uncovers sound in performance through the traces of sound itself in imagination and memory, in site, space, body and text.

Chris's research interests are in the phenomenology of sound design for theatre and performance, particularly in the relationship between designer and audience, as viewed through the lens of professional practice. He plans future research in multi-channel and spatialized audio systems for performance, and how sound disrupts temporal and spatial relationships within the frame of performance itself.

Publications

Headphone listening in live performance: a phenomenology of sound design

Theatre and Performance Design Volume 1 Issue 3 (January 2015)

What is it to wear headphones as Audience? In recent years the availability of relatively low-cost wireless headphone technology has meant an increase in performances that use the phenomenological potential of intimate, ‘secret’ listening as a theatrical element. However, the very mode of headphone listening - personal, private, ‘interior’ is at odds with the plural sharedness of Audience. In this essay, I propose that headphones fundamentally disrupt the act of listening as Audience, by enclosing individual audience members in their own acoustic space. However, I argue that headphones can also fundamentally change the way that private, personal and public spaces can bleed into each other, and that different technical modes of listening (amplified, unamplified, public-address, personal-stereo, monophonic, spatialized…) produce differing phenomenologies of performance.

How I Heard: The 'phenomenarchaeology' of performance

Australasian Drama Studies 64 (April 2014)

This article is a meditation on the phenomenological potential of Mike Pearson's Theatre/Archaeology in the practice and experience of sound design for performance. Performance, like sound, is 'the capture of that which is lost' - a recompense of understanding, a knowledge brought and a knowledge earned -simultaneously, sound and performance are 'a pyrrhic victory: … forever elsewhere: it has always already escaped'. In recomposing the left-behind traces of sound, through my score for I Am the Wind by Jon Fosse (directed in 2012 by Sapidah Kian for Turtle Lab, Melbourne), is there an insight into the experience of performance as theatre-goer and theatre-maker?