December 14, 2017

Unlearning Listening

Jacques Rivette, Le Pont du Nord, 1981
Jacques Rivette, Le Pont du Nord, 1981

Atelier TM: Unlearning Listening

When: 14th December 2017, 2-6pm
Where: Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, 41 Rue Lécuyer, 93300, France 

A groupwork / soundwalk co-led by Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson, Richard Sennett, John Bingham-Hall, Gascia Ouzounian, Matthieu Saladin.

Part of the Atelier Theatrum Mundi series of workshops under the Global Cities chair at Collège d’études mondiales, FMSH, and in the context of Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson’s Centre for Language Unlearning (Residency common infra/ctions) at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers.

Unlearning Listening proposes a reflection on how our way of listening affects our understanding of the surrounding environment and how we navigate it.

Unlearning listening can be read in two ways. Firstly, as unlearning a prevalent mode of listening, which normally focuses on what is clearest and closest to our concerns and sensibilities, or things we have been trained to consider important or relevant, and filters out what doesn’t accord with them. Secondly, unlearing by listening, engaging in a more general undoing of coded reflexes by practising forms of listening that are multiple, fragmentary, dispersed and that may tend towards what is inaudible, unknown, out of focus, out of view: idiorrhythmic edges of perception that can open our ears and minds to a disorientation of self-certainty, as well as a more complex sense of the world we share and of our relationship to different forms of otherness. 

The afternoon will consist of 3 interconnected movements.

A) We will start with a reading group and discussion, focusing on questions such as unlearning listening habits, idiorrthymic listening, liminal and edge space, minor acoustics and active listening. This will be mainly in English, but with the possibility of other languages coming into dialogue.

B) In the second part of the afternoon, we will make a soundwalk in Aubervilliers, in the area around Les Laboratoires, for which we will provide a map. The idea is that each of us take a different route to record a sonic portrait of the area, which is currently undergoing profound urban and social transformation. We will try to think about the ways in which sound may reveal, conceal or modulate these dynamics and tensions, and also how they may open up possible lines of resistance and fabulation. Other points of reflection we would like to address: how do we record what is not there, what has been suppressed or forgotten, what is revealed by silences and absences? What are the implications of the way we frame recordings (i.e. of what we bring to the foreground/background, whether we focus on detail or plan?) We’re also interested in learning/unlearning from forms such as music, cinema, video and architecture, and how they lead the ear and the eye to certain priorities.

C) Following the walk, we will gather again at Les Laboratoires for tea and biscuits, and for a chance to discuss and compare our approaches during the walk, our different experiences, and possible ways to develop and continue this sonic exploration.

NB. This workshop is open to all. Participants are invited to bring a sound recording device. As the number of participants is limited to 15, quick reservation is advised by writing to: