photo by Pheobe riley Law      


Jez riley French (b. 1965)

Using intuitive composition, field recording, improvisation and photography, I have been exploring my enjoyment of and interest in detail, simplicity and an emotive response to places and situations since my early teens and as a full time artist for over 20 years.

Alongside performances, exhibitions, installations I also lecture and run workshops around the world on various aspects of sound culture including located sound / field recording, the act and art of listening and their roles in contemporary explorative sound arts. I develop and build specialist microphones now widely used in all areas of sound culture, curate the ‘engraved glass’ label, the ‘a quiet position’ series of online releases / forums exploring the broad ideas surrounding field recording as a primary art of sound / sound art and the online zine 'verdure engraved'

Areas of work & research include establishing / expanding micro-listening, durational listening, and architectural, plant, soil horizon, aquatic and infrasound recording as key elements of contemporary located sound practices. Working with photographic scores & scores for listening, discussing the gendering of sound cultures and histories, and perception of environments.

My work has included commissions and performances for Tate Modern (UK), The Whitworth (UK), Paradise Air (Japan), MoT - Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (Japan), Spikersuppa Lydgalleri, Oslo (Norway), Baltic (UK), Steklenik (Slovenia), Museo Reina Sofia (Spain), Catalyst Arts (N. Ireland), The Whitworth Gallery (UK) , Artisphere (USA), Harpa (Iceland), Mengi (Iceland), The Wired Lab (Australia), Mullae Art Space (Korea), q-02 (Belgium) and for organisations in numerous other countries around the world. A section of my piece for Tate Modern was also chosen to be part of the ‘500 years of British Art’ exhibition jukebox at Tate Britain.

“Jez is widely regarded as having played a pivotal role in expanding extended field recording techniques and modes of listening in the sound arts, including the use of contact microphones, hydrophones, electromagnetic coils, ultrasonic detectors, geophones and vlf receivers in performance, installation, sound design (for screen, theatre and radio) and music in a wide range of contexts. He is also known for his contributions to efforts to correct historical and contemporary biases in the arts.

In 2017, as part of Hull's City of Culture year, he was commission by Opera North & Hull CoC to be involved in the 'Height of the Reeds' project, turning the Humber Bridge into a sonic experience that was experienced by over 10,000 people. A reworked version of the piece was later released on cd & in February 2019 Jez was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy for his work on the album."

I am currently working in collaboration with my daughter, Pheobe riley Law, including on a new publication focusing on the design and detail of spaces between buildings in Japan, a series of improvised performances and other projects combining sound works and text pieces by Pheobe including new 'scores for listening'.

Works have been exhibited in shows and installations alongside that of Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, Pauline Oliveros, Jana Winderen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Chris Watson, Éliane Radigue, Hildegard Westerkamp, Stars of the Lid, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Lucas, Signe Liden, Alvin Lucier etc. & has been released on labels such as;

engraved glass (UK)
verdure engraved (UK)
Breton Cassette (Norway)
Touch (UK)
Presque Tout (France)
Gruenrekorder (Germany)
Winds Measure (USA)
Compost & Height (UK)
Framework (Estonia)
Kinokophone (USA)
Sound & Music (UK)
Another Timbre (UK), 

I also collaborate with a wide range of artists, musicians and film makers.

In recent years I have been working extensively on recordings of surfaces and spaces (natural and human made) and developing the concept of photographic scores. I am particularly associated with the development of extended recording techniques, including the recording of structural vibrations, contact microphone recording, ultrasonics, infrasonics, internal electronic signals via coil pick-up's and recordings made with hydrophones.

Amongst key recent works are pieces capturing the sound of the dolomites dissolving, ants consuming fallen fruit, the Tate Modern building vibrating, the infrasound of domestic spaces around the world, glaciers melting in Iceland and the tonal resonances of natural and human objects in the landscape.

I build contact microphones, hydrophones and other specialist microphones that are widely used by other artists, universities, film and tv crews, composers, theatres and other institutions. They have been used to capture key audio elements in games, radio & tv programmes and films such as The Green Planet, The Blue Planet,The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Gravity, recent Star Wars franchises and thousands of others.

current series of works include:

'interference of objects' - a series of intuitive collaborations with Pheobe riley Law

 'choreographies of perception' - performative talks 

'audible silence' - recordings of empty architectural spaces and structural vibrations

'ink botanic' - exploring the internal sounds of plants and soil horizons

design and detail of the space between - the sound an imagery of civic infrastructure

 'teleferica' - documenting these sonically fascinating structures across Italy

'movere' - a series of pieces composed of field recordings, both passive and involving interactions with spaces and objects

'salts' - re-scoring of musical fragments as durational works, recorded using the building structures as filters

'dissolves' - hydrophone recordings exploring the hidden sonic structures of minerals

'scores for listening' - photographic scores, visual cues for listening

'instamatic' & 'emplacement' - single point field recordings

During the 1990's, following several years working in the music industry, I set up, along with my then partner, an ethical specialist music distribution service, eventually handling over 1000 labels from numerous countries releasing traditional, classical, jazz and experimental music. I'm currently writing about those years. 


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