This session, moderated by Morten Søndergaard and Janna Holmstedt, will focus on sound as evidence and sonic explorations in the hybrid field between scientific and artistic practices. It seeks to look beyond the visual, attend to sonically mediated phenomena, and explore how sound and listening might offer ways to navigate fields and areas on the borders of uncertainty and imagination in an age of crisis.
The seminar gathers the contributors to the recently released Special Section (ed. Morten Søndergaard) of Leonardo Music Journal (LMJ) Vol. 30, December 2020 (all the articles are available online). The artist-researchers who have contributed to this Special Section, follow a line of inquiry into the construction of evidence and its ethical implications. Søndergaard suggests that geopolitical situations of crisis force us to look at the politics of evidence – and how it is being practiced. In doing so, it operates between scientific and aesthetic modes of approximation. It is this intricate relation between world, data, sound, representation and causality the Special Section is investigating. The main claim running through all the articles is that this relation is as intricate as it is challenging, and that we need to reimagine what evidence is, reclaim its politics, through sound.
Here, listening emerges as a shared orientation and critical mode of inquiry in technological layered and mediated environs, a strategy even, for moving the taken for granted – the unnoticed or oppressed background – to the affective foreground, as well as a form of activism and resistance. In different ways, the artist-researchers explore the potential of a sonic sensibility that can reorient the politics of visibility.
In the LMJ Special Section, Tullis Rennie investigates sociosonic interventions in the context of social engaged art, and the role of disruption and distributed authorship. Laura Beloff, in her contribution on human-plant relations, asks: What does it mean to hear through technological mediation? Louise Mackenzie further investigates technologically embodied and layered forms of looking and listening to nonhuman entities such as microorganisms, while Marie Højlund and Morten Riis invite us to consider processes of transduction and atmospheres as relational attunements in their sonic interventions with wind mills. Janna Holmstedt suggests that “the transformative role of sound and listening troubles Western knowledge systems in fruitful ways”, and Stephanie Loveless proposes the flaneuserie sonore, feminist soundwalking, as a way to recontextualize the practice of walking in literature and art, arguing for listening as a feminist and ecologically oriented mode of engaging with the world. Freya Zinovieff and Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda further demonstrate that “to listen attentively to the sonic is to situate oneself at the intersection of geopolitics and sensory perception” in what they, with Pratt and Haraway, term Anthropocene Contact Zones.
Laura Beloff is an active artist and accidental academic working in the intersection of art, science and technology. She currently works at Aalto University, Finland.
Marie Højlund is a sound artist, composer and assistant professor in sound studies at Aarhus University, Denmark. She received her PhD in 2017 with her thesis on sound, noise and atmospheres in Danish hospitals: “Overhearing—An Attuning Approach to Noise in Danish Hospitals.”
Morten Riis is a sound artist and composer and holds a PhD degree in electronic music from Aarhus University. He has written articles and books on artistic research and music technology, conducted workshops over most of Europe and has received commissions from leading festivals and ensembles in Denmark, Germany and Poland.
Janna Holmstedt is a Swedish artist and researcher investigating listening as a situated practice, composition in the expanded field and the cultivation of care and environmental attention. She is part of the postdisciplinary research group The Posthumanities Hub, and received her PhD in 2017 with her thesis “Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In? Explorations into Listening”. Currently works at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and National Historical Museums, Sweden.
Stephanie Loveless is a sound artist and a lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she directs and the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer. She holds MFAs from Bard College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Louise Mackenzie is an artist and researcher based in the U.K., affiliated with the Cultural Negotiation of Science research group, Northumbria University.
Tullis Rennie is a composer, improvising trombonist, electronic musician and field recordist. He is cofounder of Walls on Walls and senior lecturer in music at City, University of London.
Freya Zinovieff is a sound artist and theorist who uses emerging technologies to research the geopolitics of sound in borderlands.
Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda researches the histories of media arts from a feminist perspective and produces interactive installations. She has degrees in graphic design, visual arts and cultural history.
Morten Søndergaard is an active curator, exhibition designer and academic working in the intersection of art, science and technology. He is currently working at Aalborg University, Denmark.