Earlid is simultaneously haunting and magical. Get lost in the sound of skin, dreams, and hometowns.
—Public Media Scan, Association of Independents in Radio (AIR)


Listen. Index finger to lips. Shush.

Earlid is an invitation. It’s an online gallery of evolving exhibits of sound art. It’s like a museum. It’s also like a radio program with occasional practitioner interviews transformed by Earlid’s radiophilic curator. There’s a striving to educate and inform rather than criticize or interpret. 

Why sounds?
In visual culture there’s a choice to turn away or, conversely, to open eyes widely towards mediated beauty. But physically, we have no ear lids. We hear everything. Our ears are not always open to recognize the potential for metaphor and meaning. Sounds are stories, full of doubt. They shift perceptual experiences; they undo media structures. They ooze like honey, or rain down vertically around us.

Why sound art?
Contemporary practitioners of sound art have spider-webbed a century’s legacy to audiences seeking a visual and perceptual experience. Media artistry today finds its way towards emergent radio spaces, sound-texts, re-mixes, gallery installations, noise tracks, narrowcasting, internet operas, live performance, narratives in sound. Often all this is transmitted to personalized portable devices (gazed at), or the fairly sedentary laptop (distraction-laden) or eventually nests within a virtual archive (stumbled upon). Sound risks being sublimated to other artistic disciplines; but practitioners are invigorating ever-deeper relationships to what the ears do best. The virtual medium is a place to dwell in such aurality. Each Earlid quarterly is mapped around a theme, featuring artists whose work speaks to this assemblage or convergence of ideas, of sounds, of presentation spaces.

Why sound online?
It was one of those Modernists back in the early 20th century who coined the moniker, “Cinema for the Ear.” To further this culture, Earlid seems to be a virtual museum for the ear. Think upon it as a sonic version of the salon or atelier. Follow a cartography, though never ‘be’ anywhere. You “tell” someone about it, and they tell another, excitedly. A kind of private listening experience takes place upon arrival. It’s littered with the anticipated, infectious need to search rather than the necessity to land someplace. Linger and perhaps you’ll discover. Earlid’s thematic divisions force a structure amidst the ephemeral quality of sound itself in a space that is nowhere.

How to listen.
Listen for exhibits periodically with occasional recorded conversations between artists and curator. Sometimes there’s a kind of wishful listening—here’s a sound, is there a practitioner focused on such sonic curiosity? Those are housed in Liminal Sounds, once annually, when Earlid opens to submissions.

Earlid then is an enfoldment of sounds upon stories upon bodies and imagined gallery rooms. And ears, naturally.


Organizer-Founder: Joan Schuman

Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator and also interviewer, reminds us about the etymology of curating. It comes from the Latin word curare, meaning to take care. Across the ages, there was initially care-taking of bath houses and souls; only later it has come to mean looking after collections of art and artifacts.

My own engagement with practitioners include Listening as a Form of Activism and The WHY: Conversations (Trickhouse); Lo-fi: Radio (NEXUS/Foundation for Art, Philadelphia); The Sound Lounge (Dinnerware Gallery, Tucson); Acoustic Mining and Right Ear Dominant (KUSP-FM, Santa Cruz). I serve as a mentor for the Radio Artist Fellowship, established 2019 at Wave Farm.

As a practicing sound artist since the early 1990s, my audio interviews fragment into documentary art-narratives designed for radioesque spaces. Work has aired in the ether, online and in physical spaces including Dream Talker, Melbourne; This Curious Ear, RTE/Ireland; Radiophrenia, Glasgow; Datscha Radio: A Garden in the Air, Berlin; Wayback Sound Machine, Sonic Field; Trickhouse Live at Casa Libre, Tucson; Third Coast International Audio Festival, Chicago; ResonanceFM, London; Radiolab, WNYC-FM; The Night Air/Radio Eye, ABC Australia; Deep Wireless Festival, Toronto; online at Public Radio Remix; art@radio; SoundLAB. Visit and listen at HyperAcousia.

Since the late 1990s, I’ve been mentoring students through courses in sound culture and radio narrative experiments, and since 2004, in the Media Studies masters program and undergraduate students in Liberal Arts through The New School for Public Engagement (online distributed education). I live along the far northwest California coast, always within earshot of the sound-full edge of the Pacific Ocean.

For questions, comments, submissions, please contact Joan Schuman:

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