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Affective Atmospheres

29th November 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 30th November 2018 @ 11:00 pm

A blurry skyline photo

Affective Atmospheres:

Site-specific sound, neighbourhood music and the social formation

Seminar, screenings and concerts

Center for Arts and Humanities, American University of Beirut | 29 and 30 November 2018


With keynote contributions by CRiSAP’s Cathy Lane and David Toop, this two-day seminar, screening and concert programme aims to make thought-provoking connections between sound and society. In response to ideas posited by Louis Althusser and other theorists, scholarly and artistic contributions will consider the idea of social formation, the ever-evolving atmosphere of a place. By exploring sonic atmospheres (for example ambience or ambient sound), contributions will consider the modes of presence activated in a site, place, area or location. Taking up a position of social awareness, Affective Atmospheres indicates the necessity of understanding how the emergent and contingent sonic atmospheres of a site are constituted by multiple social influences, neighbouring and socially diffused music and sites-specific sounds that are not static but historically transformative.


Cathy Lane – ‘Atmospheres of love and loss’

How do sonic atmospheres created by the specifics of geography, language, and the changing history of a place both contribute to and emanate from its social and cultural identity? This presentation will consider these questions with specific reference to the Outer Hebrides, remote islands off the West Coast of Scotland which have a rich and complex history of settlement and migration. Over the last two decades, Cathy Lane has been exploring various aspects of life on these islands through sound, listening to people, individually and communally; to the land, the sea and the weather and to archives, literature and music.


David Toop – ‘An Ecology of Practice’

Within the field of sound there is no background, no environment, no body and mind, no us and them, no inner and outer, no ambience. As periodic waves, complex invisible events, resonance and pressure, sound runs through all bodies, objects, entities. After that, the problems can begin (hierarchical listening, rejection, refusals, selective listening, separation, oblivious listening, gendered listening, betrayal and so on). Field recording is a misnomer: the field of sound is a total field, not a separated field. The listener roams the world in order to inhabit sound; sound becomes the listener. For me, sound is one part of an ecology of practice, an intra-action of improvisation, instrument, performance, image traces, theory, history, autoethnography, ancestors, vocabulary, nourishment, resonances, communities of practice, time and memory, physicality and movement, archives and forgetting. As a life’s work I try to become a better listener. All of this is a means to an end, which is to maintain a practice that is personally meaningful, alive and somewhat coherent, containing the possibility of having meaning for others. The implications of this practice are questions rather than answers: to what degree can this ecology of (listening) practice enable a divestment of destructive identities in the pursuit of a bigger question; why am I here? This is all I can speak about.


For further information please see the full programme on the American University of Beirut website



Event programme

29 November

1:00pm – Introduction

1:15pm– Keynote: Professor Marcel Cobussen

2:30pm – Session 1

Transforming the ‘Barrier of Fear’: DIY Music as Atmosphere in Post- Revolutionary Authoritarian Egypt – Dr Darci Sprengel, University of Oxford

Noise in Cairo: Sonic Documents – Duncan MacDonald, Associate Professor of Practice, The American University in Cairo

3:30pm – Keynote: Professor David Toop

4:30pm – Screenings (Auditorium B, AUB)

8:30pm – Concerts (FAAS, AUB)

Cathy Lane | Joshua Hudelson and his students,


30 November

10:00am – Keynote Professor Ashish Avikunthak

11:00 – Session 2 (CAH, AUB)

Plural identities, multiple affectivity, and the shape of urban atmosphere to come – Dr Nicola Di Croce, Iuav, University of Venice, Department of Design and Planning in Complex Environments

Music as Atmospheres – Dr Friedlind Riedel, Bauhaus University, Weimar

Sounding the Unsocial: A Nomadic Listener – Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

2:00pm – Keynote Professor Cathy Lane

3:15pm – Session 3

Dr Maria Papadomanolaki, University of Brighton

The Planetary Ambience – Dr Anette Vandsø, Aarhus University

4:30pm – Screenings (Auditorium B, AUB)

8:30pm – Concerts

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay | Lasse-Marc Riek | David Toop


29th November 2018 @ 1:00 pm
30th November 2018 @ 11:00 pm
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American University of Beirut
Beirut Art Centre


Center for Arts and Humanities, American University of Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon
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