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Researcher Spotlight: Laura McLean

Laura McLean is a Melbourne-based curator and researcher. She is Associate Curator at Liquid Architecture; a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S); and is currently completing a PhD in Curatorial Practice at MADA, Monash University. Laura's doctoral project Capture AII, in collaboration with Liquid Architecture (Melbourne) and Sarai-CSDS (Delhi), investigates how sound and listening practices can critically analyse and disrupt colonial patterns in data-driven governance that affect contemporary life in settler- and post-colonial Australia and India. As a recipient of a Maitri Cultural Partnerships grant, Laura also co-leads another upcoming collaboration between Liquid Architecture and Sarai-CSDS scheduled for 2024/25. 

What are you working on right now?
I’m in the midst of preparations for the ‘Modulating Realities’ symposium, co-organised by Liquid Architecture and Sarai-CSDS, which will take place in Delhi this December. The symposium will foreground and critically examine sites and forms of sonic research and artistic practice in India and Australia. It will be the last event of the Capture All program, which I have curated with artists and scholars Mehak Sawhney and Suvani Suri for the past three years.

What gets you excited about work?
Working with brilliant people! Developing Capture All has been a fantastic way to engage with and learn from some incredible artists, curators, and researchers working in Australia, India, and beyond. I was really thrilled when we found out earlier this year that Liquid Architecture's and Sarai-CSDS’ joint application for a Maitri Cultural Partnerships grant was successful. This will allow us to continue working together on a new project in 2024, with events in Melbourne on the horizon in 2025. 

What sparked your interest in your field?
I have long been interested in contemporary art exploring the possibilities and politics of media technologies.

As a curator for the Maldives Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013 developing a project called the 'Contingent Movements Archive' I spent a lot of time researching South Asian media ecologies, and grew fascinated with how the evolution of media technologies impacts different regions in different ways. 

Working with Liquid Architecture (a sound art organisation) has prompted me to listen to, as well as look at, these impacts.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve always got a few books on the go. Among them at the moment, Sonic Fiction by Holger Schulze; Overload, Creep, Excess: An Internet from India by Nishant Shah, Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Nafis Hasan; The Eye of the Master: A Social History of Artificial Intelligence by Matteo Pasquinelli; and Delhi-based artist Mochu’s first book Nervous Fossils: Syndromes of the Synthetic Nether, which is a wild ride!

What is your favourite place to visit in India?
Although Delhi feels like a second home now, I do love it when work takes me to the south of India. I’m looking forward to visiting Goa again for the Serendipity Arts Festival in December and doing some more exploring there and in Kerala!

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