This website archives the work and creative practice of Jon Tjhia (that’s me).
The violence of colonisation and its institutions is interconnected and ongoing. My priority is in working with other people interested in untangling this mess and actively contributing to a world that has a future for more-than-human living.
I work as a radio maker, musician, artist and writer. I’m interested in complications of what’s ‘pop’ and ‘experimental’; what’s overt and what’s covert. I’m interested in people, bodies, situations and voices, and how we experience time, money, rules, language and relation. It seems silly, though, to limit yourself like that. Like you, my thinking concerns many things – sometimes in contradiction.
My radio making is strongly influenced by popular music, narrative features, abstract sound work and communications technology. Since 2018, it has bled into installation, video and multimedia essays.
Work I’ve made has been heard on ABC Radio National, Radio Australia, WBEZ (USA), CBC (Canada), BBC Radio 4 (UK) and WFMU (USA); at Manchester Literature Festival and the Barbican (UK); and on the podcasts Constellations and The Truth. I’ve performed it at Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House. I devised and produced a radio karaoke night for Melbourne Writers’ Festival once, and in 2022 produced a 13-hour streaming radio event with Snack Syndicate as part of Open House Melbourne.
One of my longest running collaborations has been with Jessie Borrelle. In 2008, we undertook an artist residency in Wiluna, working with school-aged children to create audio stories. In 2010, we created Paper Radio – a podcast bringing high production values and ambitious sound design to stories (both tall and true) from Australia and New Zealand. You can read more about the podcast in The New Yorker, Overland and The Age.
As part of my former job as the Wheeler Centre’s senior digital editor, I published and produced original podcasts including Better Off Dead (with Andrew Denton) and The Messenger (with Behind the Wire). You can read more about work I’ve made as an independent and freelance radiomaker below.
I’ve been a New York Festivals International Radio Awards Grand Jury member and a judge for the Walkley Awards, Australian Podcast Awards, Fringe Awards. Am I quick to judge? Probably just the average pace, to be honest.
My stories, articles and essays have been published in LIMINAL, Un Magazine, the Big Issue, Performance Review, Guardian Australia, The Lifted Brow, Going Down Swinging and the Institute of Modern Art’s Making Art Work series.
I’ve also contributed to books including Eavesdropping: A Reader, Soundhouse: The Listening Body and Making Art Work. ‘Present and accounted for’, long-listed for the 2021 LIMINAL Non-Fiction Essay Prize, will be published in Against Disappearance (LIMINAL/Pantera Press) in August 2022.
At the Wheeler Centre, I co-founded and co-edited (2016–2020) the Australian Audio Guide, in collaboration with Kate Montague. I also co-founded and co-edited Notes, a digital publication, with Sophie Quick. In 2013, I co-wrote the audio guide script for NGV’s Monet’s Garden exhibition with Jessie Borrelle and Toby Fehily.
ArtMy sound, video and installation work has been shown with Toronto Media Arts Centre (CA), Avantwhatever, Liquid Architecture, Darebin Arts, Next Wave, International Science and Art Symposium, This Is Not Art and so on.
I’m a member of the Manus Recording Project Collective, a collaboration producing recordings of time in Australia’s immigration detention system. The collective has produced two archives: how are you today and where are you today. In 2018, as part of Eavesdropping, I undertook the Te Whare Hēra International Artists’ Residency in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington with Michael Green. If I’m honest, I have complicated feelings about art seen separately from other things, so consider this subheading suspect and negotiable.
I’ve played and produced music with Speed Painters, Scissors for Sparrow, ii, Aleks and the Ramps and Tailor Made for a Small Room, touring several countries and festivals as well as at Judith Wright Centre, FELTspace, Serial Space, ACCA, NGV and a lot of backyards.
Job to do? Maybe you’ll enjoy one of my mixes – I love making these. I also like recomposing other people’s themes. A while ago I was invited to remix the theme of my favourite podcast, Soundproof. I’ve often composed and produced music for the narrative audio projects I work on. Feel free to pay me to do that for you.
Learning and teaching
I love to learn and teach through publicly and privately through workshops, mentorships and courses. In 2022, I’m teaching RMIT University School of Design’s studio called Composing Sound Spatially, in which students learn to work with ideas of ‘space’ as a dimension of meaning-making in audio works from mono to multi-channel contexts (using the amazing Black Box studio).
With Bethany Atkinson-Quinton, Sophie Black and Veronica Sullivan, I developed two years of workshop programmes for Signal Boost. I’ve previously held workshops, tutorials, presentations or listening sessions at Audiocraft, OzPod, Podcast Garage (USA), Victoria University (NZ), City Gallery (NZ), University of Melbourne, RMIT, CBAA, Institute of Modern Art, Monash University and Emerging Writers’ Festival. In 2021, I joined Lea Redfern to co-teach the Advanced Media Project unit at the University of Sydney.
You can hire me for short-term or long-term work involving writing and editing, visual/audio/digital production, podcast recording and editing, sound design, spatial audio composition and diffusion, streaming radio, music composition, concept and curatorial development, illustration, mentorship, audio tours and a few other things.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of incredibly skilful people to make outstanding work – whether it’s to report news, enhance an experience or make culture more accessible. A lot of these projects have been recognised by awards, but
I’ve recently worked on projects with and for:
- Arts Access Victoria
- Guardian Australia
- Liquid Architecture
- National Gallery of Australia
- Melbourne Fringe
- State Library Victoria
- Australian Poetry and First Nations Australia Writers Network
- Artful Dodgers Studios
- The Substation
- The Circular
- Jewish Museum of Australia
- Emerging Writers’ Festival
- Birthing and Justice with Dr Ruth De Souza
- Victorian National Parks Association
- Judith Neilson Institute
- Winrock International
Right now, I’m working with Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Debris Magazine, LIMINAL, State Library Victoria and Melbourne Fringe, and others.
I have extensive experience working in-house, primarily as a digital producer, writer-editor and radio/audio producer. From 2012–2020, I worked as the Wheeler Centre’s senior digital editor (before then, from 2010, I worked as the centre’s video editor).
If you’d like to talk, collaborate, commission or hire me, or you’d just like to recommend something to read or listen to, get in touch.