The Listening Artist: How can multiple listening strategies inform contemporary sound art practice?
London College of Communication
This practice-based research project explores the role and nature of listening as employed by sound artists when making work. A number of approaches to listening have existed and continue to emerge within the discipline, stemming from individual artists' practice, or from theoretical positions on the subject, and there has been a subtle shift in sound research in recent years that could be categorised as a 'listening turn', shifting the focus of sound theory from noise to the listener, exploring the listening encounter and expanding its role in the reception of sound art. Equally, an emerging sensory agenda in the social sciences and philosophy has allowed diverse listening theories to emerge, suggesting further ways of listening that are culturally specific or located in different aspects of experience.
However, research into the listening strategies employed by artists when making work is nascent and whilst many practitioners offer personal reflections on their listening (occasionally invoking the historical approaches mentioned above) they sometimes lack a wider framework within which to contextualise these listening techniques and practice.
This study seeks to discover the multiple strategies of listening within both the theory and practice of sound art and ascertain their usefulness when making work. My practice will be both practice-led, with projects acting as case studies in which I will explore the particular processes of listening used during the creative process, and also practice-based, with works specifically exploring the strategies of listening explored in my contextual review. Through developing my own work and using it as a site for an exploration of my listening, I seek to extend the "listening turn" in sound art and map out a pragmatic, functional and critical territory of listening strategies that can be of benefit to any practitioner of the sound arts.