David Toop (born 1949) plays bone conduction, resonators and buzzers, strings, paper, magnetism, archival memories, flutes, electricity and other materials. He has been developing a practice that crosses boundaries of sound, listening, music and materials since 1970. This encompasses improvised music performance, writing, electronic sound, field recording, exhibition curating, sound art installations and opera. It includes eight acclaimed books, including Rap Attack (1984), Ocean of Sound (1995), Sinister Resonance (2010), Into the Maelstrom (2016), Flutter Echo, a memoir first published in Japan in 2017 (2019) and Inflamed Invisible: Writing On Art and Sound 1976-2018 (2019). Briefly a member of David Cunningham’s pop project The Flying Lizards in 1979, he has released fourteen solo albums, from New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Sound Body on David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label (2006) to Entities Inertias Faint Beings (2016) and Apparition Paintings (2021) on ROOM40. His 1978 Amazonas recordings of Yanomami shamanism and ritual were released on Sub Rosa as Lost Shadows (2016). In recent years his collaborations include Rie Nakajima, Akio Suzuki, Tania Caroline Chen, John Butcher, Ken Ikeda, Elaine Mitchener, Henry Grimes, Sharon Gal, Camille Norment, Sidsel Endresen, Alasdair Roberts, Lucie Stepankova, Fred Frith, Thurston Moore, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a revived Alterations, the iconoclastic improvising quartet with Steve Beresford, Peter Cusack and Terry Day first formed in 1977. Curator of sound art exhibitions including Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery (2000), his opera – Star-shaped Biscuit – was performed as an Aldeburgh Faster Than Sound project in 2012. His most recent record releases include Garden of Shadows and Light, a duo with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Breathing Spirit Forms with Akio Suzuki and Lawrence English and Until the Night Melts Away with John Butcher and Sharon Gal.
Seeing Through Flames is a series of auditory assemblages that turn listening into a collective channel of exchange. These sessions open out the ideas and themes of our research strand, Emergency & Emergence, and survey different possibilities of forming solidarity through sound and music. By looking at politics of spiritual transformation and collective imagination, these study-as-listening sessions explore the potential for the poetic and vibrational undoing of the knowledge that underpins concepts of the dominant modes of being, as well as the oppression those modes create to make ourselves and our planet anew.