Data Relations Summer School Schedule

Lauren Lee McCarthy: Surrogate, Performance in Progress
Performance and conversation with Jenny Kennedy

Registration is essential, please book here.

Roe v. Wade is overturned while gene editing is opening entirely new reproductive futures. What does kin mean as reproductive technologies shift our relationships? How much control should we have over a birthing person’s body, and over a life before it begins?.

‘The Surrogate project began with a desire to serve as a surrogate. During the pregnancy, the parents would have an app I made that provides 24/7 access to all my biodata, and an interface to control me. So in essence, they could have complete control over my body in which their baby is growing.

The past few years of the pandemic have reshaped our bodily boundaries. We’ve swabbed and spit in tubes and traded ownership of our bodily substances in an attempt to feel safe. But these fluids hold the data of our DNA, our personal information, and our identity.

I’m fascinated by the ways we’re taught to interact with data, and how this shapes the way we interact with each other. Central to my work is a critique of the simultaneous technological and social systems we’re building around ourselves. What are the rules? What happens when we introduce glitches?’


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Lauren Lee McCarthy In Conversation With Jenny Kennedy



Session #2: 12–4pm
RMIT Media Portal (14.02.131), Swanston St, Melbourne

Data Audits, or Why Listen to Datasets?
with Machine Listening (James Parker, Sean Dockray, Joel Stern), Mehak Sawney and Lauren Lee McCarthy

You open a dataset, click on a file, and hear a person coughing three times. You click on another one, and a voice starts counting briskly from one to twenty. You notice an accent but you can’t place it. The next file is labeled ‘oooo.wav’. It sounds like the same voice, only holding the phoneme ‘oh’ (o-e) this time. An online tool tells you the frequency is around 140hZ, a C#, though the tuning starts to wobble as the vocalist runs short of breath. Throughout the file you hear shuffling, and a mouse clicking. The recording sounds clipped, low fidelity, a bit like a Zoom call.

You open another dataset, click on a file entitled ‘YAF_voice_sad.wav’, and hear a voice recite the phrase ‘say the word voice’. Or maybe they are singing. Does the voice sound sad, as promised? Maybe. But mostly you are struck by how musical the performance is, and by the strangeness of the phrase, which is also a command. Say (C#) the (C#) word (G#) voice (F#), the voice sings, with no response. You listen again. Say (C#) the (C#) word (G#) voice (F#). Voice, you say to yourself, as you search for another file.

What are these recordings? Why were they made? What can they tell us about the datasets of which they are a part, and the uses to which they are put? In this experimental workshop we will listen to datasets and other audio archives as sites of both power and possibility, critique and creativity. We will consider how auditory data is stored and processed, and how different modes of listening might reveal a world of social relations – of labour, ownership, and context – embedded within these datasets. Across a series of lectures, conversations, and listening exercises, we will attempt to collectively audit two datasets and one dataset-in-waiting, with and against the technocratic purposes for which they were gathered.

You may like to spend some time with these datasets and related materials in advance of the session.

Reference material:

  1. Sean Dockray, James Parker and Joel Stern, (Against) The Coming World of Listening Machines
  2. Machine Listening, After Words
  3. Sean Dockray, Listening to the Diagnostic Ear
  4. Mehak Sawhney, Data Genesis and Speech Recognition in India
  5. Lauren Lee McCarthy, Live Data
  6. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen, Excavating AI
  7. Cifor, M et al, Feminist Data Manifest-No
  8. Critical Dataset Studies Reading List


  1. AudioSet
  2. The Speech Accent Archive
  3. Sperm Cryo Banks, ‘Hear the Donor’ audio archive 


Public Program #3: 6–7:30pm
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne

Zach Blas: Expositio, Iudicium, Lacrimae, or, Does an AI God Have an Ass
Performance lecture and conversation with Mark Andrejevic

Zach Blas explores the idea of religious-un/conscious thriving in today’s tech industry. Charting his encounters with various artificial intelligence gods, Blas tells of a computational world of divine judgment and devout submission, where artificial intelligence exists alongside mystical glyphs, occult sigils, captured bodies, and corporate transcendence. Through a consideration of religious sermons, offerings of worship, and spiritual iconography, an AI religiosity is traced, in which flesh becomes biometric and emotional crying transmutes into a symbolic language of holy quantification.

Read more and register here.


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Acca Podcast – 3. Zach Blas Performance Lecture



Session #4: 12–4pm
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne

Capture All
with Laura McLean with Mehak Sawhney, Uzma Falak, Suvani Suri, Aasma Tulika, Tom Smith, Shareeka Helaluddin, Joel Sherwood Spring

This is (not) a field trip. Today’s class takes place in the gallery, at ACCA, in closer relation to the works in Data Relations. The session will be run by the collective Capture All, convened by Laura McLean, Suvani Suri, and Mehak Sawhney, and comprising artists, researchers, activists and educators all interested in understanding and intervening in forms of data capture, extraction, and governance in settler- and post-colonial Australia and India. It will comprise screenings, performances and discussions, as well as lectures and experiments by the collective, all concerned with how sound and listening practices can critically analyse, and break, the recursive colonial patterns in data-driven governance that haunt and impact contemporary life in setter- and post-colonial countries. Where and how do such practices relate to histories of migration and forced-migration in the Asia Pacific context? How is audibility understood, stretched and counter-mobilised in relation to settler-colonial extractivism, technological control and capture, and ongoing modes of statist and corporate governance?

Reference materials

  1. Laura McLean and Mehak Sawhney, Capture All: A Sonic Investigation
  2. Joel Spring, Unbalanced Formula(tions)
  3. Tom Smith, Narrative 001: The Things We Like
  4. Shareeka Helaluddin, Echoic Memory Song: Listening for Loss, Grief and Possibility through Keeladi Objects
  5. Aasma Tulika, Listening to Success Stories
  6. Uzma Falak, Echoes from an Anechoic Chamber
  7. Suvani Suri, The Search for Hassaina’s Song and Other Phonophanies

Public Program #4: 5–8pm
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne

Suvani Suri with Aasma Tulika, Uzma Falak, Shareeka Helaluddin, Mehak Sawhney: Loops, Echoes, Phonophanies, and other Détournments
Lecture and musical performance

A drift that begins with the attempts to tune into the inaudible recordings of the Linguistic Survey of India archives, producing short circuits in the process. The slow rummaging opens up ways of listening to co-relationalities, within the archival crackles, echoic memories, archaeological artefacts, earwitness testimonies, computational instructions, and cultural data sets moored in South Asian contexts.

Thao Phan: Listening to Misrecognition
Performance lecture

What is the sound of racialisation? How might we listen to misrecognition? What does machine error tell us about the precision of racism? And how can the tools of a racist system be used to transcribe new forms of resistance?

This experimental presentation is a collaboration between feminist technoscience researcher Thao Phan and Machine Listening, an ongoing investigation and experiment in collective learning, instigated by artist Sean Dockray, legal scholar James Parker, and researcher, curator and artist Joel Stern. Part lecture and part performance, this event brings together critical work on race and algorithmic culture with new techniques for dissecting and analysing automatic speech recognition, applied to personal and public archives drawn from Thao’s life and research. It features a discussion and demonstration of the Word Processor tool, developed in 2021 by the Machine Listening team and Reduct, a US-based tech company co-founded by the artist Robert Ochschorn.

Artist Talk with Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne 

Join exhibiting artists Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne for a talk about their new digital commission Offset.

These performances will be followed by a closing celebration of Data Relations Summer School. Read more and register here.


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Suvani Suri with Aasma Tulika, Uzma Falak, Shareeka Helaluddin, Mehak Sawhney

ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Thao Phan Performance lecture: Listening to Misrecognition


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Tega Brain & Sam Lavigne Launch of ‘Offset’



RMIT University

Media Portal (14.02.131)
Building 14, 414-418 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000 (corner of Swantson St and Franklin St)

Wi-Fi at RMIT is available via the RMIT Guest network. You will be prompted to enter the Conference Code: 162570

ACCA volunteers will be at the site to assist. This room is fully wheelchair accessible. 


ACCA is located at 111 Sturt Street, Southbank, in the Melbourne Arts Precinct. Enter from Sturt Street. There’s a tram stop nearby, and plenty of car parks and bike racks. It’s also a nice walk from Flinders Street train station.

ACCA is fully wheelchair accessible, with two accessible car park spaces just outside the entrance in Sturt Street and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. No need to call ahead – come on in. ACCA also has a wheelchair that is available on request for use by visitors. We also welcome Assistance Dogs in the gallery.

Read more about access and planning your visit here.


  • Aasma Tulika (Capture All artist, India)
  • Ana Tiquia (All Tomorrow’s Futures, Australia)
  • Andrew Brooks (UNSW Sydney, & ADM+S Australia)
  • James Parker (exhibiting artist, Melbourne Law School, Australia)
  • Jenny Kennedy (RMIT University, AMD+S, Australia)
  • Joel Sherwood Spring (Capture All artist, Wiradjuri)
  • Joel Stern (exhibiting artist, RMIT & ADM+S, Australia)
  • Lauren Lee McCarthy (exhibiting artist, UCLA Design Media Arts, USA)
  • Laura McLean (Capture All curator, Liquid Architecture, Monash University & ADM+S, Australia)
  • Machine Listening (Sean Dockray, James Parker, Joel Stern)
  • Machine Vision Reading Group (co-convened by Chris O’Neill and Thao Phan)
  • Mark Andrejevic (Monash University & ADM+S, Australia)
  • Mat Spisbah (Independent Curator)
  • Mehak Sawhney (Capture All curator & artist, Sarai & McGill University, Canada)
  • Michael Richardson (UNSW Sydney, Australia)
  • Mimi Ọnụọha (exhibiting artist, USA)
  • Sam Lavigne (exhibiting artist, University of Texas, USA)
  • Sean Dockray (exhibiting artist, Australian National University, Australia)
  • Shareeka Helaluddin (Capture All artist, Australia)
  • Suvani Suri (Capture All curator & artist, Sarai, India)
  • Tega Brain (exhibiting artist, New York University, USA)
  • Thao Phan (Monash University & ADM+S, Australia)
  • Tom Smith (Capture All artist, RMIT, Australia)
  • Winnie Soon (exhibiting artist, Aarhus University, Denmark)
  • Uzma Falak (Capture All artist, University of Heidelberg, Germany)
  • Victoria Ivanova (R&D Strategic Lead, Serpentine Gallery, London)
  • Chris O’Neill (Monash University & ADM+S, Australia) / Automated Vision Reading Group
  • Zach Blas (exhibiting artist, University of Toronto, Canada)



ACCA acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung people as sovereign custodians of the land on which we work and welcome visitors, along with the neighbouring Boonwurrung, Bunurong, and wider Kulin Nations. We acknowledge their longstanding and continuing care for Country and we recognise First Peoples art and cultural practice has been thriving here for millennia. We extend our respect to ancestors and Elders past and present, and to all First Nations people.

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

Data Relations Summer School is curated by ACCA in collaboration with RMIT Research Fellow Joel Stern, co-convened with James Parker, and presented with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S), RMIT School of Media and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australian Research Council (ARC), Capture All with Liquid Architecture x Sarai, ACMI and UNSW Sydney. Data Relations Summer School is presented as part of ACCA’s exhibition Data Relations.

Michael Richardson and Andrew Brooks’ participation is supported by Australian Research Council DECRA grant DE190100486 “Drone Witnessing: Technologies of Perception in War and Culture”.

James Parker’s participation is supported by Australian Research Council DECRA grant DE200101447 ‘The Laws and Politics of Machine Listening’.


Notice and disclaimer: Facilitators of the Data Relations Summer School are using third-party service providers, Discord and to host conversations, exchange of information and resources. The facilitators and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) have no control over Discord and, and as such, we do not make any guarantees, representations or warranties in respect to these platforms and have no responsibility or liability if you choose to interact with them. Please also note, the information you provide as part of your engagement with these platforms will be subject to the individual platform’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service (not ACCA’s Privacy Policy).


Presenting Partners