Points of Listening: Reflections on the Participatory and Polyphonic Potential of Communal Sonic Practices

Points of Listening: Reflections on the Participatory and Polyphonic Potential of Communal Sonic Practices



Salomé Voegelin and Mark Peter Wright

Published in The Polish Journal of Aesthetics on Listening and Polyphony. Philosophy, Aesthetics, Art. Edited by Maja Bjelica, Ineta Kivle, Lenart Škof.

This essay reflects on the participatory and polyphonic potential of communal sonic practices by discussing two events staged as part of Points of Listening (PoL), an ongoing series of workshops and discussions involving collective and participatory sonic practices. These are led by musicians, geographers, students, technologists, artists, scientists and more, and are coconvened by the authors, in association with Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP), University of the Arts London. PoL takes place in many contexts and forms: in shopping malls (Ian Rawes), the cinema (Maria Papadomanolaki), in archives (Andrea Canova) and parks (Catherine Clover); it is technologically driven (Marla Hladi), or pursues hands on, material production (Alex De Little); it creates séances (Victoria Karlsson), deep listening experiences (Ximena Alarcón), narrative environments (Antoine Bertin) and sonic pedagogies (Kevin Logan); it investigates climate (Andrea Polli), gender (Antye Greie) and hearing diversity (Tom Tlalim), and illuminates many more issues from sound. PoL’s main focus is not what we hear, but how we listen and make sound together; and its main concern is what that activity generates in terms of sociality and sense, with and between the participants.

We take the opportunity of this special issue of Polish Journal of Aesthetics, on “Listening and Polyphony”, to review and reflect on the methods and aims of PoL through the lens of a plural sounding; to come to grasp the radical collaboration and relational community proposed by sound. Each author chose one of the over 50 public events staged since the series started in 2014. And each pursued, from memory and documentation, through recordings and in conversation, an applied discussion on how we listen and make sound collectively; to ask what consequent and plural voices might emerge, and how this might impact on our sense of self and how we live together. In this way, we hope to start a conversation about how we participate in listening and sonic thinking; and to reflect on the possibility of a different sense of community, generated from and through sound.

Read the paper online here

The Polish Journal of Aesthetics

“Listening and Polyphony,” a special issue of The Polish Journal of Aesthetics, focuses on questions of listening and polyphony as unifying concepts to discover overlapping horizons between philosophical insights and aesthetical experience.

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