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Personal profile


Julian Knowles is an academic specialising in the creative applications of new and emerging technologies and an expert in practice-led research. His research spans the fields of media arts, music, sound design and experimental media.

He holds degrees in Music (Hons Class 1) from the University of Sydney, where his teachers included Peter Sculthorpe, Peter Platt, and Winsome Evans, and a doctorate in media art from UTS. His academic career began in 1994 when was appointed on the foundation staff to establish a new music degree at the University of Western Sydney. In this role Julian established a highly successful major in music technology and a new cross disciplinary Bachelor of Electronic Arts program, both of which produced many leading Australian practitioners.  Within a period of 8 years he was appointed to the position of Head of the School of Contemporary Arts, leading a cluster of Music, Theatre, Dance and Visual Arts. This began a period of service in senior academic leadership positions that has spanned 16 years.

 In 2005 he was appointed to the position of Professor of Music and Head, School of Music and Drama at the University of Wollongong where he was chair of the Faculty Academic Board and a founding member of the Sonic Arts Research Network. In 2007 he took up his position of Professor and Portfolio Director - Art and Design, Music, Dance (Head of School) in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology where he was responsible for the strategic leadership of a school with 40 FTE staff. As a member of the Creative Industries Faculty Executive, he was also a member of the Strategic Research Leadership Group that included representation from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Creative Industries.

Alongside this role, he became an integral member of the leadership team for the 2010 Co-Operative Research Centre (CRC) in Arts and Entertainment Futures bid. This $40m bid, led by QUT and chaired by Michael Lynch CBE AM, brought together more than 30 industry partners (including the ABC, Sydney Opera House, the Australia Council for the Arts, Brisbane Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Circa) reached formal interview stage and remains the only arts based bid to progress to the final stages of selection of a CRC round. Julian was named as the research leader for the ‘Form and Content Innovation’ program and also as Interim Chief Executive Officer. He played a key role in securing partner contributions and in conceptualising the research programs.

In 2011, he took up a strategic research development role as Research Leader: Creative Arts and Writing in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT. In this role he steered the faculty’s ERA submission in the 19 Codes and established a new 18 member research cluster- the Creative Practices Research Group across Visual Arts, Media Arts, Design, Music and Theatre.

In 2013, he was appointed to the position of Professor of Music and Media in the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University, where he co-established the Creative Ecologies Lab Research Group and took up the role as leader for FOR Code 19. In 2015 he was appointed to the role of Associate Dean (International) in the Faculty of Arts.

Julian’s sustained program of practice-based research demonstrates a long-standing, high-level engagement with technologically-mediated sound practices and the relationships between audio-visual media. This has resulted in the creation of more than 50 innovative works that have been disseminated by high profile record labels, broadcasters and art institutions internationally.  In the course of his career Julian has worked with many of Australia’s best-known sound artists and has been a member of the Australian electro-environmental audio group Social Interiors since the mid 1990s. As a solo artist, Julian’s music and audio/visual works have been presented at events and venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Experimental Intermedia in New York City, What is Music?, Australian Perspecta, Liquid Architecture, the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Sydney Opera House.  

His creative research outputs have international reach and are published via a number of record labels. His work receives frequent broadcasts internationally and he has been invited to perform live to air for ABC Radio, BBC Radio and many other specialist radio programs. He has been a frequent recipient of competitive grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Arts NSW/Create NSW and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including composer commissions, residencies, development, performance, international touring, and innovative projects grants.

From 2007-2013, Julian was Chair of Q Music, the peak body for the music industry in Queensland. As part of that role, he provided expert advice to, and participated in, a range of music export initiatives for the Queensland Government. Under his tenure, he led the organisation through a tripling of its turnover and its emergence as a flagship organisation for the Queensland Government.  From 2003-2007, Julian was appointed by the Minister for the Arts to the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. Significant past directorships include the Sydney Olympic Park Arts Development Advisory Panel and the Australian Network for Art and Technology.  Since 2013, Julian has been Chair of MusicNSW, the peak body for the music industry in NSW, where he has worked to grow organisational capacity and reach. In this role he has provided expert commentary for NSW government inquiries in the arts and music sector.

Julian is a frequent keynote speaker and panel chair on issues relating to innovation in sound and music. In recent years, Julian has delivered the following keynote addresses at significant festivals, conferences and public lecture series ‘Circa 1979/Signal to Noise’, Sydney Festival 2010; ‘Sustainability in the Sound Arts in Australia’, Liquid Architecture 10, Sydney, 2009; ‘Music in Universities in the 21st Century: A Manifesto’, Music. Sound. Design Symposium, University of Technology Sydney 2008; ‘On-Air’, Vital Signs: Creative Practice and New Media Now Conference, RMIT, Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne 2005; and ‘Aural Cinema and Laptop Pop: New Compositional Intentions’, ANU Centre for New Media Arts Public Lecture Series, National Museum of Australia, Canberra 2005. In 2020, Julian's work 'The Billion' was presented as part of the major international retrospective "Audiosphere: sound experimentation 1980-2020" at the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia in Spain.

Education/Academic qualification

Music, Doctor of Creative Arts, Metamusics: an exploration of hybridity and post-genre in experimental music, University of Technology Sydney

Award Date: 1 May 2008

Music, Bachelor of Arts (Hons Class 1), University of Sydney

Award Date: 1 Feb 1989

External positions

Peer Assessor, APRA/AMCOS Digital Futures Fund, Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)

2022 → …

Peer Assessor, Experimental and Emerging Arts Fellowship, Australia Council

2014 → …

Chair, Music NSW, Music NSW

1 Mar 2013 → …

Peer Assessor, National Broadband Network Initiative, Australia Council

2012 → …

Chair, Q Music

10 Mar 200715 Jan 2013

Professor, Portfolio Director, Queensland University of Technology

20 Jan 200720 Jan 2013

Peer Assessor, Arts Queensland/Trade Queensland Music Export initiative, Arts Queensland


Peer/Grant Assessor - Music, Emerging and Experimental Arts, Australia Council

2007 → …

New Media Arts Scoping Study Steering Committee, Australia Council


Professor and Head, School of Music and Drama, University of Wollongong

1 Dec 200419 Jan 2007

Music Board, Australia Council


Board Director, Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)


Arts Advisory Panel, Sydney Olympic Park Authority


Associate Professor and Head, School of Contemporary Arts, Western Sydney University

24 Jan 199430 Nov 2004