Institute for
non-empirical results


At the Institute for Non-Empirical Results, Thomas Burless and Gail Priest encourage the interactions of sounds and materials to test the creative capacities of cause and effect. In their projects they manifest the materiality of sound through visualised vibration inspired by research into old and sometimes forgotten materials and processes. However, rather than pursuing accurate recreation, their processes are conducted with a sense of instinctive play, creating novel objects and environments that meld the acoustic, the mechanical and the digital, manifesting oddities and invisibilities. Their interest is in re-materialising digital processes, and re-membering the mechanical and technical histories that underpin them. They do this through practice-based research that aims to foster a late-19th and early-20th century naivety and curiosity that is then paired with 21st century digital mediation. In this way they collapse past, present and future through processes that are then displayed as both curious object and elemental demonstration. 


The project is driven by the philosophies of speculative realism, particularly those of Jane Bennett and her ideas around “a materiality that is as much force as entity, as much energy as matter, as much intensity as extension” (2010, p 20). INER's explorations that materialise sound as wave, vibration and energy draw attention to energetic oscillation as a shared phenomenon of the human and non-human, organic and inor-ganic. The installations play within a space of material agencies that ask the viewer to reconsider them-selves not as the pinnacle of natural evolution but as a particular kind of vibrant matter existing within a network of vibrational materials. 


Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press.



Vibrant Membrane in Fisher's Ghost Art Award
Campbelltown Arts Centre
28 October – Friday 8 December 2023

Gail Priest and Thomas Burless, working as the Institute for Non-Empirical Results (INER), are finalists in Campbelltown Art Centre's Fisher's Ghost Award, Contemporary Division. They are exhibiting a piece called Vibrant Membrane, a redux from Five Self-Vibrating Regions of Intensities.