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Spatial Listening

De Little, Alexander Paul (2018) Spatial Listening. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In response to a contemporary (Western) cultural disposition that is variously described as ocularcentric and disembodied, this project situates sound and listening as alternate potentialities for relating to, and understanding, the concrete spatial environment. This commentary puts forward a practice of listening — communicated through a series of works — that engages subjects in methodical and embodied modes of thinking-through-sound as a way to create sonic knowledges of the architectural environment; in relation to the acoustic phenomena of echo, resonance, and reverberation. Works situate these phenomena as individual sounding and listening affordances for interacting with the built. They engage subjects in various modes of listening through, or sounding and listening in relation to them, in pursuit of understanding the spaces in which they manifest. This practice is located between a body of sound works that engage acoustic phenomena and a body of spatial practices which configure listening. It makes an original contribution to the field through the way in which it engages subjects in reflexive modes of sounding and listening that are contingent on the perception of acoustic phenomena. Works are grounded in a phenomenological conception of listening, drawn largely from the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Luc Nancy and Salome Voegelin. Commentaries discuss the works in relation to the paradigms of sonic knowing put forward by Steven Feld, Julian Henriques, and Annie Goh. Ear Pieces preface the portfolio. These works defamiliarise the ear as a way to create situations of listening that prepare subjects for engagement with other works in the portfolio. Reflection // Position is a four-loudhailer array that creates complex milleux of sonic reflections that are ‘worked through’ by listeners. RT60 is a network of loudspeakers and microphones that organises sound around the reverberant temporalities of spaces. In the Spatial Drone pieces, performers use either synthesiser or tuba to uncover the resonant profiles of enclosed spaces through reflexive cycles of sounding and listening. The Resonant Topographies works instigate moving-listening engagements with resonant interference distribution. Finally, Spatial Listening — inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros — is a series of text scores, manifesting as an itinerant listening practice that engages subjects in reflexive modes of sounding and listening through echo, resonance and reverberation. The sonic knowledges of architectural space produced by the works in this portfolio are characterised by the combination of the acoustic phenomenon in question and the mode of listening that engages it. Generally, they are contingent, relational, transient, ‘situated’, and explicitly bound to the body with regards to both the perception and emission of sounds. Works instigate sonic modes of being in space that challenge ocularly dominated dispositions; defined by a mixing with it rather than a separation from it. They bring subjects into their bodies and into the present moment, whilst fostering situations in which people relate sonically, coming together through, and in, listening.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.784660
Depositing User: Dr Alexander De Little
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2019 12:10
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23981

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