John Kannenberg

John Kannenberg

Completed PhD Student

2014 - 2020

John Kannenberg is a multidisciplinary artist and curator whose work investigates the sonic geography of museums, the psychology of collection, the processes of making and observing art, and the human experience of time.

John's work has been presented worldwide, including appearances at Tate Modern and the White Cube in London; the Sound Art: Sound As A Medium Of Art exhibition at the ZKM Medienmuseum, Karlsruhe; the Notations.NL festival in Amsterdam; the 100 LIVE festival in Cairo; and the Switch ON Festival in Kuala Lumpur. As a composer, John's graphic notation work has been published in Theresa Sauer's comprehensive survey of post-Cageian graphic scores Notations 21 and performed by Manchester's Chiasmus Ensemble, while his site-specific video score Collections: UMMA has been performed at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

As a curator, John has completed projects for institutions including the ZKM Medienmuseum in Karlsruhe, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, and the Herskovits Library of African Studies in Chicago. He has lectured about the sonic experience of museums at The National Gallery, London; the University of Leicester Department of Museum Studies; the College Art Association conference in New York; the Ecrea Media & the City conference in Zagreb; the Sound Art Matters conference in Aarhus; the University of Brighton; Art Arcana, London; and the University of Michigan Museum Studies Department.

John has served as the Director and Chief Curator of The Museum of Portable Sound since November 2014. He blogs about sound, time, memory, collection, and museums at

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The Museum of Portable Sound: curating and re-defining the sound object within experimental museology

This practice-based research project investigates the sonic experience of museums while laying the foundation for a more sonically inclusive museology. Beginning with fieldwork involving mapping and field recording contemporary museum soundscapes, this project has produced an experimental curatorial project, The Museum of Portable Sound, an institution dedicated to collecting, preserving, and displaying sound as an object of human culture. The Museum itself is also portable, with its sonic collections existing as digital audio files on a non-networked mobile phone. Visitors to the Museum make an appointment to meet the Museum’s Director one-on-one for a private guided tour, similar to visits to the 17th Century cabinets of curiosity that eventually evolved into the modern museum.

As an artist’s museum, The Museum of Portable Sound exists as primarily one person’s experience of the culture of sound, presenting field recordings from around the world in its permanent collection galleries to tell stories related to sound’s connections with human culture. A series of temporary solo exhibitions of sound art are guest curated, with shows so far spotlighting artists from the US, UK, and Mexico.

Alongside the establishment of the experimental museum as part of the creative practice, the research also has produced a Derridean paleonomy, or re-definition from one discipline to another, of the term sound art – breaking it free of its previous context within electroacoustic music to reclaim it as a museological term accessible to collectors, curators, and exhibition designers eager to explore the multisensory within their own practice.