The Listening Wall: A journey into scored listening

Garrelfs, Iris. 2018. 'The Listening Wall: A journey into scored listening'. In: t Sonorities Symposium 2018: Techno–Human Encounters. SARC, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Listening has long been in the foreground of sound arts practice. In 1966, sound art pioneer Max Neuhaus stamped the word “LISTEN” onto the hands of participating audiences and took them on a walk around Manhatten, listening to industrial rumblings, buzzings of Puerto Rican street life and lastly, a percussion performance.

We currently live in divisive times, illustrated by Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico. In response, Listening Wall is a participatory project developed by the author, operating from the premise that the process of listening connects us with our surroundings. It consists of an actual wall filled with curated sound related instruction scores by artists such as Cathy Lane, Graham Dunning, Jez Riley French, Jo Thomas, Salome Voegelin, Viv Corringham.

Each of the scores provides a different sonic perspective through which to explore our surroundings. Some scores focus our attention on the experience of listening and the quality of the sound itself; others aim to instigate relationships with very specific aspects of the audible environment. Others stimulate our imagination or instill mischievous behavior, reminding us that listening does not merely relate, but can also be “… disruptive in its nature” (Westerkamp 2015). To date it has been set up in a range of different contexts, e.g. Supernormal Festival 2017 and Points of Listening #37. These different settings in turn offered different lenses onto how diverse audiences might engage with such materials.

Taking Listening Wall as a point of departure, this paper considers several questions relating to this project, including the problematics surrounding a tendency to normalize listening experiences, but also how we extract from or bring meaning to them. In between reduced (or material) listening and meaning-related (or immaterial) listening, our mental world alongside inherent assumptions and a wealth of creative possibilities becomes audible.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


April 2018Published

Event Location:

SARC, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Sep 2018 13:14

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2018 13:14


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