Dr John Wynne

Profile image of Reader in Sound Arts & Member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice)

Reader in Sound Arts & Member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice)

London College of Communication


Dr John Wynne’s diverse, research-led practice includes large-scale sound installations in galleries and public spaces, delicate sculptural works, photographs that reproduce sound, flying radios and award-winning ‘composed documentaries’ that hover on the borders between documentation and abstraction.

His Installation for 300 speakers, Pianola and vacuum cleaner, developed during an AHRC-funded research residency, became the first piece of sound art in the Saatchi collection and won him the 2010 British Composer Award for Sonic Art. His work with endangered languages includes a project with click languages in the Kalahari Desert and another with one of Canada’s indigenous languages, Gitxsanimaax.

A year-long ACE-funded residency with heart and lung transplant patients alongside photographer Tim Wainwright led to a book, a 24-channel installation and a half-hour commission for BBC Radio 3. I Am Not the Cancer, an installation based on women with metastatic breast cancer, has shown in 9 European capitals, including inside the European Parliament in Brussels.

John’s work for Scottish director Graham McClaren’s edgy and critically acclaimed production of Andromache was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Sound Design and Composition. This work led directly to a series of site-specific installations and to Nocturnal, a collaborative installation with filmmaker Atom Egoyan. 

Research interests

Sound art, sound installation, radio, multi-channel sound diffusion, sonic portrait, voice, auditory warnings, endangered languages.

Research statement

John Wynne's work, which is most often research-based, is made for museums, galleries and public spaces, as well as for radio. In 2009 he became the first sound artist to be represented in the Saatchi collection: his untitled installation for 300 recycled speakers, player piano and vacuum cleaner was developed with assistance from the AHRC and will be shown for the second time at the Saatchi Gallery in 2010.

John recently undertook a project co-funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project to work with members of the indigenous Gitxsan community in northern British Columbia, whose language is threatened with extinction. The resulting installation will premiere at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver before showing at the 'Ksan gallery in Gitxsan territory. He is also compiling an archive of the materials he recorded with linguist Tyler Peterson which will be kept at 'Ksan for community use.

His work with endangered click-languages in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in collaboration with linguist Dr Andy Chebanne and photographer Denise Hawrysio, resulted in an award-winning "composed documentary" for BBC Radio 3 as well as a photographic sound installation which showed at the Botswana National Museum, the National Art Gallery of Namibia and the Brunei Gallery in London: "Impressive sound sculpture," according to the 'Wire' magazine.

John was artist-in-residence, along with photographer Tim Wainwright, for one year at the Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, one of the world's leading centres for heart and lung transplants. He recorded patients, the devices attached to or implanted in them, and the hospital environment itself. The project resulted in a collaborative 24-channel installation shown at the Nunnery in London and at the Beldam Gallery, Brunel University. Other outcomes include an award-winning radio piece for the BBC, a book and DVD publication and a surround sound video piece which premiered at Tate Britain.

John has created large-scale multi-speaker installations in public squares in Copenhagen and Toronto: one was banned by the City Council of Copenhagen for allegedly "frightening and confusing the public" and the other was described in MusicWorks magazine as "an ambient, ghost-like presence". He has also created large-scale installations using discarded but working hi-fi speakers in Berlin (Fallender ton für 207 lautsprecher boxen) and Hull (230 Unwanted Speakers): according to one writer, the Berlin piece "sounded like heaven . and hell."

He has had articles published in 'Autumn Leaves: Sound and the environment in artistic practice', 'Playing with Words: The spoken word in artistic practice', 'Sonic Geography: Imagined and Remembered', 'Leonardo Music Journal' and 'Organised Sound'. Upcoming publications include contributions to 'Between Art and Anthropology', 'The Art of Immersive Soundscapes' and 'Beyond Text'.

He has created soundtracks for films selected for the London Film Festival, the BBC Short Film Festival, the Whitechapel Open, the European Media Art Festival and the Rotterdam International Film Festival.


Current students & thesis titles

Gerard ChoySounding Chinese: Tracing the Voice of Early 20th-Century to Present-Day Transnational Chinese.

John Kannenberg, Listening to Museums: Curating the Ephemeral Sonic Object.


Selected research outputs

  • Grave

    Wynne, John (2015) Grave. [Art/Design Item]

  • Installation no 3 for high and low frequencies

    Wynne, John (2014) Installation no 3 for high and low frequencies. [Show/Exhibition]

  • Outside In: Re-framing urban noise

    Wynne, John (2014) Outside In: Re-framing urban noise. In: Urban Traces – Wahrnehmung im öffentlichen Raum Künstlerische Transformationen im urbanen Kontext [Perception in Public Space: Artistic transformations in the urban context].

  • Anspayaxw

    Wynne, John (2013) Anspayaxw. In: Hlysnan: The Notion and Politics of Listening. Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, pp. 62-67. ISBN 978-99959-30-23-3

  • Untitled installation

    Wynne, John (2015) Untitled installation. [Show/Exhibition]

  • I Am Not the Cancer

    Wynne, John and Wainwright, Tim (2014) I Am Not the Cancer. [Art/Design Item]

  • Hearing Loss / Cold Atlantic

    Wynne, John (2013) Hearing Loss / Cold Atlantic. [Art/Design Item]

  • Andromache

    Wynne, John (2011) Andromache.

  • Nocturnal

    Wynne, John and Egoyan, Atom (2013) Nocturnal. [Art/Design Item]

  • ITU: the din of recovery

    Wynne, John (2013) ITU: the din of recovery. In: The Art of Immersive Soundscapes. University of Regina Press, Regina. ISBN 978-0-88977-258-8