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Tim Shaw - Ambulation

Tim Shaw - Ambulation

A research project exploring listening technologies for an extended Sound Walking practice.

Ambulation is a headphone-based sound walk that adapts field recording equipment and listening technologies to explore the sonic quality of different environments through an expanded performance practice. As the performer of the piece, I collect acoustic and electromagnetic signals from the immediate environment and transmit them to audience members each of whom are wearing wireless headphones. By doing this, Ambulation configures field recording as a live, performative act.  

Using the portable hardware and software system developed especially for Ambulation, the soundscapes encountered along the route are recorded, re-sampled and manipulated in real time. No pre-recorded material is used in Ambulation, and the audience and performer hear a mixture of source and ‘performed’ sounds during a performance event. This differs from a conventional field recording practice, instead of moving sound material from one environment to another, Ambulation uses recording technologies and digital signal processing to create a direct response to the immediate soundscape. A variety of self-built technologies and artistic strategies have been developed in this work where the collection of sound material is enacted as a live, participatory performance.  

Ambulation at CAMP, Aulus-les-Bains, France (2019). Image: Bruno Mello.


Within the field of walking as an artistic practice and medium, sound walks emerged as a way of encountering environments through the act of listening to the audio environment. Each performance is specific to its geographical and temporal context. The technologies and sound processing systems employed are revised in each performance in order to respond to the environment of each performance.  

Whilst Ambulation continues to be performed in different locations internationally, I present, in the NIME paper included in this submission, a comprehensive description and critical discussion of the work as a continually responsive yet complete research project and artwork. 

This project has been in continuous development since August 2015. Since then Ambulation has been presented at 17 different events, festivals and conferences all around the world including at FACT Liverpool and Sonica Festival in Slovenia.  

Ambulation at BALTIC with Google Design, Gateshead, UK (2018). Image: It