CAVE was initiated by Dr Sam Belinfante in 2016, in collaboration with staff and students from across the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures at University of Leeds. Even though CAVE finds its natural home in the School of Fine Art's Project Space, the centre initiates and supports projects across Yorkshire, and nationally though collaborations with a range of practioners and institutions.
It is the ambition of CAVE to become the foremost centre for investigations into the ‘audio-visual’ within contemporary art theory and practice. In the year since its launch CAVE has already worked with a wide range of leading academics and practitioners, including composer/performers David Toop and Juliet Fraser as well as the Turner Prize winning artist Susan Philipsz.
CAVE as an acronym, playfully conjures the memory of ancient spaces, environments that have been both carved into the rock and have manifested entirely by chance. Like the enigmatic sites that lay before it, the formation of CAVE is as much the product of existing research structures as it is the carving out of new spaces and methodologies. Vitally however, these enigmatic sites are often cited as both the birthplace of art and of ‘the human’. The radical work of CAVE will necessarily incorporate an archelogy of media and its interconnected modes of thought.
In recent years ‘cave’ has become synonymous with virtual environments that are at the vanguard of technological innovations. CAVE is similarly a site for innovation, experimentation and play within the university: bringing new media and technology to the fore, whilst constantly reassessing and revitalising nominally ‘archaic’ technologies of the past. For Deleuze, existence is a kind of test, an experiment, ‘like that whereby workman test the quality of some material’. it is CAVE’s primary mission to bring this tactile, haptic experimentalism to the forefront of our research, not at the expense of theoretical investigations, but alongside and in tandem with them.
CAVE is not a School of Sound, it merely recognises the necessity for thinking with sound and through sonic experience. The experiments of CAVE are as much indebted to literature, science and the visual arts, as they are to experimental music and sound practices. Though ‘sound studies’ is widely recognized as a field of inquiry within the Humanities, certain analytical assumptions about the sonic have in fact, further isolated sound and aural experience. By striking audio technologies with and against their visual counterparts (including the modes of thought provoked by such striking) CAVE is focused on the task of unpicking the relationships between the ambient sounds, visuals, languages and technologies of an art school such as this one.
In the last few years the University has made great strides in its partnerships with regional and national cultural partners. With its strong relationships with institutions such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Tetley and The Hepworth Wakefield, CAVE is a natural way of engaging these partnerships; sharing knowledges, experiences and our various audiences and spaces. But also, it is CAVE’s job to ask questions of these mechanisms; what is culture, who is it for, and vitally where should it exist? Where and how should it be experienced? Rather than merely joining together with organisations to unlock pots of money or out of reach resources it is time to truly reflect on interdisciplinarity and collaboration within the arts and humanities.