upstream ensemble 

communal field recording and listening gesture
produced during a residency with TBA21–Academy
in collaboration with 35 contributors
cassette & digital — 30:29
published by forms of minutiae and TBA21–Academy

During the 2022/23 digital residency hosted by TBA21–Academy’s, Pablo Diserens launched an open call inviting members of its online platform ocean comm/uni/ty (and external enthusiasts) to venture into the world and record aqueous sonic encounters. The aim of this collective liquid attuning was to gather sound recordings from various wet ecologies while stimulating listening and field recording gestures regardless of any previous experience.

Recordings from 35 contributors were woven into the long-form sound composition "upstream ensemble" which navigates between the multiplicity of the water cycle as a sounding body. The work moves upstream through oceans, rivers, pipe networks, ponds, and glaciers while investigating the continuous flow of water and the environments that surround it. Listeners encounter drifting habitats trickling with the songs of sea lions, dolphins, blue whales, humpback whales, Arctic terns, and algae photosynthesis – as well as with the invasive hums of submarines’ sonars, boats, and human infrastructures. With "upstream ensemble" some of the world’s aqueous fauna, flora, geologies, and technologies mingle into a synchronized motion that documents the sonic articulations of these wet zones.

In resonance with Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening practice and inspired by Rachel Carson’s exploration of the intertidal zone in her book "The Edge of the Sea", this project contributes to an ever-expanding list of works that propose a focus on listening as a way of engaging and existing with the planet’s waters. By stimulating shared listening and attuning practices, Pablo Diserens aims to develop a sense of interconnectedness by blurring the boundaries between species as well as environments. Experiencing aqueous biomes both individually and collectively acts as a way of rethinking our relationships with the world. Despite these being mostly solitary experiences, Pablo believes that field recording and listening are communal and environmental practices that form gateways for earthly synchronicity and world mapping in time and space. Thus listening in turn can become a political act that sparks emotional bonds with the world and its biotic communities.

The piece was inaugurated on TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Archive before being published a few months later as a cassette and digital album on forms of minutiae.

Listen to and view the full project on the Ocean Archive ︎︎︎
Cassette and digital edition available on forms of minutiae ︎︎︎
Interview with Pablo Diserens for TBA21–Academy ︎︎︎

> All proceeds of the release will be donated to the Blue Marine Foundation, an organization working towards the health and the conservation of the oceans by securing marine protected areas, restoring marine habitats, developing models of sustainable fishing, and connecting people with the sea and enhancing ocean understanding across generations →


> concept: Pablo Diserens and Fiona Middleton (TBA21–Academy)

> composition and mixing: Pablo Diserens

> with sound contributions by: Alëna Korolëva, Alexandros Maragkoudakis, Bence Kovács-Vajda, Christopher Dean, Cyane Findji, Damian Pace, Elise Rigot, Eliza Collin, Fiona Middleton, Francesco Previtali, Ilù Seydoux, Irene Mansoldo, Isabel Val, Jakob Köchert, Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, Joana Moher, Katy Lewis Hood, Kosmas Phan Dinh, Kseniya Lushnikova, Leo Maassen, Ludwig Berger, Mat Eric Hart, Mathias Arrignon, Matty Yeomans, Mélia Roger, Moritz Zeisner, Nikos Sotirelis, Nina Blume, Ocean Networks Canada, Pablo Diserens, Sem Zeeman, Slavek Kwi, Surrealich, Thibault Noirot, Varoujan Cheterian.

> cassette mastering by: Mathieu Bonnafou
> graphic design by: Cecilia Murgia
> cassettes pictures by: Camille Blake

duration: 30’29’’ — C60
piece repeats on both sides — limited edition of 100
published by forms of minutiae & TBA21–Academy — fom09 — 2023

Listening with good speakers or headphones is recommended as the piece features a large range of frequencies (notably blue whales' subsonic calls).

Special thanks to all the contributors, Fiona Middleton, Markus Reymann, Michal Kucerak, Petra Linhartova, TBA21, Madelyn Byrd, Diane Barbé, Lou Croff Blake, Thom Lucero, and Mélia Roger.


From melting glaciers to underground pipes, we trace the path of an imaginary water droplet as it traverses the globe. Along the way, we hear sea lions, terns, dolphins, and blue whales along with boats and submarines. The sheer variety astonishes as we are whisked from place to place, each with its own dramatic soundscape. But more important is the reminder that all of these distinct environments are inextricably linked through the medium they share: the health of any one aquatic ecosystem depends on all the others.”  The Best Field Recordings on Bandcamp: January 2024 (Matthew Blackwell)

“Field recording and listening are often posited as individual acts, and recorded works the product of a single perspective on an environment. When you listen to a field recording, so the idea goes, you are listening to someone else’s listening. What happens then when a composition of found sounds is built from a multitude of perspectives? Based on an open call for water-born recordings, sound artist and forms of minutiae co-founder Pablo Diserens makes the case for a kind of dispersed, communal recording, drawing a sonic thread betweens the oceans, rivers, pipe networks, ponds, and glaciers of 35 contributors. With nods to Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening and Rachel Carson’s The Edge of The Sea, what I love most about this work is how clearly it makes the case for the interconnectedness of aquatic environments and water systems.“ Through Sounds (Anton Spice)


contributors’ pictures 

1. Moritz Zeisner, 2. Alëna Korolëva, 3. Alexandros Maragkoudakis, 4. Ilù Seydoux, 5. Thibault Noirot, 6. Christopher Dean, 7. Fiona Middleton, 8. Ludwig Berger, 9+10. Pablo Diserens



~ Briny Listenings: field recording and ecoattuning (happened on january 26th, 2023)
As a complementary happening to support their open call, Pablo Diserens gave a workshop on field recording and ecoattuning methodologies. The workshop presented various microphonic technologies and techniques, as well as ways of rethinking our place in an environment in order to attune to it and its soundscape. They shared influential field recording practitioners' frameworks and how their ideas have informed the discipline. Pablo also discussed their field experiences while sharing some of the sonic encounters they’ve made in marine and aqueous ecosystems. This blossomed into a playground for acoustic discoveries and curiosity as they shared sounds that some had never heard.  


more about the project

Watch an introductory discussion between Pablo Diserens and Fiona Middleton (at the start of the project).

~ TBA21 & the ocean comm/uni/ty
TBA21–Academy is TBA21's research center fostering a deeper relationship with the Ocean and other bodies of water through the lens of art to inspire care and action. Established in 2011, the Academy has since worked as an incubator for collaborative inquiry, artistic production, and environmental advocacy, catalyzing new forms of knowledge emerging from the exchanges between art, science, policy, and conservation. The ocean comm/uni/ty is an online social space developed and hosted by TBA21–Academy for ocean lovers, researchers and practitioners to gather, discover and (un)learn across oceans.


© Pablo Diserens — 2020 →  2024