John Hughes

Listening To Machines

I am undertaking a series of audio field recordings of subterranean machinery. Collected during London Underground’s night turn engineering hours these recordings reveal the inner workings of the city’s sub-surface; a deep level microcosm with its own rules, behaviours and hierarchies that runs parallel with the city it serves. My approach is to use these mechanical underground sounds as a metaphor for the invisible worker. This also questions the rise of automation and the normalisation and acceptance of the ever-increasing levels of surveillance and control in everyday life. By doing so I aim to link the surface of technological consumer society with the dehumanisation and mechanisation of the sub-surface worker.


I am asking the following questions: How does the texture of mechanical sound connect the surface and sub-surface of technological consumer society? What are the global-political and cultural implications of the anthropomorphism of machines? How does this relate to the 21st Century commodification of labour?