[-empyre-] Thursday, 19th: Hearing and Listening

Andra McCartney andrasound at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 00:07:01 EST 2014

Thanks for these questions. I am fascinated by how people listen to sound
art, and find that others' listening experiences expand my understanding of
sound art works. Each time I have engaged listeners in conversation about
sound art, whether through handwritten, online, performed or oral forms,
and whether immediately or over a longer time period, there are surprises.
People listen in ways that continue to surprise me and that then lead to
re-consideration of the sound art in question, as well as other areas of
thinking. These encounters seem very precious and important.

On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 9:09 AM, Jim Drobnick <jim at displaycult.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> For today, Thursday, 19th, our focus will be on "Hearing and Listening."
> While these topics may have been addressed in the past through perceptual
> or phenomenological  methods, the questions by Jennifer Fisher, Eldritch
> Priest and Salomé Voegelin hint at the affective, bodily and political
> forces implicitly at work during this activity. Too often it is assumed
> that hearing or listening merely involves a passive transfer of sensory
> data, as if the ear were merely a conduit for information. But it's clear
> that the ear is subject to socialization and bias, training and discipline,
> personal idiosyncracies, and influence by the surrounding environment. The
> 3 questions today, then, seek to reflect upon the effects of such
> influences when attending to audio art:
> *1) Jennifer Fisher*: What is the significance of spatial resonance and
> affect when listening to sound art? How do hearing and proprioception
> combine in formations of resonance?  How might the resonances of ambient
> space -- whether a museum, concert hall or other venue -- operate
> contextually in curating sound art? My sense is that resonance operates
> somewhat differently from vibration: if vibration stems from the tactile
> sensing of a discrete object (or its emission from a particular point in
> space), might resonance afford more delocalized, contextual,
> intensification of hearing and proprioception?
> *2) Eldritch Priest*: Through tropes such as the often cited “the ears
> are never closed,” artists and theorists alike routinely posit audition as
> form of “exposure,” a veritable faculty that lays us open and vulnerable to
> the world. But as Steven Connor notes, the ear is not submissive; it
> "actively connives to make what it takes to be sense out of what it hears.”
> This means that the ear not only refuses to entertain an outside -- “noise”
> -- but its operations seem to entail "a kind of deterrence of sound” such
> that to hear is always to mishear. But if all hearing is mishearing,
> audition can only be a fundamental hallucination that works for the powers
> of the false. From this premise we might ask whether hearing is (in both
> its ordinary and Peircean sense of the term) an abduction of the “outside.”
> What would it mean or do, then, for sound studies—specifically sound
> studies in its humanistic phase -- that its organ of concern (l’oreille) is
> steeped primarily in “guesswork”? Does studying sound mean studying what is
> effectively a connivance? And if so, if audition is always making sense up,
> then with what, or as Neitzsche would say, with “whom” is it complicit?
> *3) Salomé Voegelin*: What is the relationship between listening and
> sound art?
> Jennifer, Eldritch and Salomé, please feel free to further elaborate or
> extend your initial thoughts!
> Best,
> Jim
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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