Rob Mullender

Completed PhD Student


Dr Rob Mullender teaches sound, construction for film & television and critical/contextual studies on the Live Events and Television and Sound Arts and Design BAs at London College of Communication. He received his PhD in 2011, which looked at how light could be used to synthesise sound. Rob occasionally records, designs and mixes sound for film, and produces sculpture, sound, 2D, performance and moving image works when he can. Most recently he has performed Minor Conspiracy for adapted reed organ and eight breathing participants, and Happy Ending - a site specific intervention for improvising musicians and massage parlour.

‘I produce sounding objects. Typically these take the form of sculptures which contain different analogue (as distinct from digital) or acoustic sound production techniques, which are readably and structurally part of the objects themselves. They are often then used to make a video or sound work, disrupting or colluding with the camera or recorder, articulating or modifying the surrounding space, be it physical and sensual, social and performed. Often, a performative aspect to my practice comes to the fore; pieces may require activation, or are contextually bound by relations with bodies and places.  
    I think of these sculptural works as passing points, pieces of territory through which ideas and energy are changed and exchanged, or synthesizers which require the spectator’s attention for them to operate through his or her engagement as watcher, listener or even operator.’


Silent Light, Luminous Noise: Photophonics, Machines and the Senses.


This research takes the basic physical premise that sound can be synthesized using light, explores how this has historically been, and still is achieved, and how it can still be a fertile area for creative, theoretical and critical exploration in sound and the arts. Through the author’s own artistic practice, different techniques of generating sound using the sonification of light are explored, and these techniques are then contextualised by their historical and theoretical setting in the time­-based arts. Specifically, this text draws together diverse strands of scholarship on experimental sound and film practices, cultural histories, the senses, media theory and engineering to address effects and outcomes specific to photophonic sound and its relation to the moving image, and the sculptural and media works devised to produce it. The sonifier, or device engendering the transformations discussed is specifically addressed in its many forms, and a model proposed, whereby these devices and systems are an integral, readably inscribed component – both materially and culturally – in both the works they produce, and via our reflexive understanding of the processes involved, of the images or light signals used to produce them. Other practitioners’ works are critically engaged to demonstrate how a sense of touch, or the haptic, can be thought of as an emergent property of moving image works which readably and structurally make use of photophonic sound (including the author’s), and sound’s essential role in this is examined. In developing, through an integration of theory and practice, a new approach in this under­ researched field of sound studies, the author hopes to show how photophonic sound can act as both a metaphorical and material interface between experimental sound and image, and hopefully point the way towards a more comprehensive study of both. 



Completed September 2011