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Listening to Bodies and Materialities



15-16 September 2016

This second network event was staged at Southampton University on the 15+16 September 2016. The focus of the meeting was social and medical as well as anthropological and forensic listening.

Network Meeting

Organised across two days and hosted by the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at Southampton University, this second network event provided a framework for the presentation, exposition, comparison and debate of different approaches to exploring materials and bodies through listening and sound.

Both days featured sessions of debate and discussion triggered by and focussed around six 15 minute presentations by key and core network members, who described, presented, evidenced, illustrated, etc. how they listen, what they hear, and how they deal with sonic material / data in their work and research; how they evaluate, use and apply their sonic findings; and how they engage these listening / recording methodologies in teaching, communication or for the consultation with clients, patients, students, industry, etc.

As part of the event we visited the anechoic and reverberant chambers in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton University, and were given a demonstration in audiology. 

Like the first network event this meeting too aimed to facilitate knowledge sharing to provoke novel interactions, enabling the key and core participants, as well as a participatory audience, not only to break down barriers between disciplines, but also to set the terms for doing so between universities, research, pedagogy, industry and the public. The meeting invited exchange and debate to enable a ‘shared enquiry’ that produces shared and shareable outcomes.

The particular emphasis on materialities and bodies focused a cross disciplinary listening on the aim to understand the world as a material and social sphere, whose components and interactions can be heard as well as seen. It involved anthropology, forensics, history, art, music and neurology as well as technology and medical sciences to explore how new knowledge might be created, applied and communicated through sound.

The roundtable consisted of network members, core members, as well as a specially invited participating audience involving doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, UAL and SoU staff as well as members of the general public.

The aim was to engage the group in the differing methods, channels, tools, and objectives of listening practices across the differing academic or professional fields, in order to discuss and query processes, technologies, tools, and aims. The presentation and discussions of such a variety of academic, artistic and professional contexts and objectives of listening provided a platform for comparison, exchange, re-evaluation and inspiration, and initiate a debate on the legitimacy of the heard as an artistic and scientific material, data and outcome and what knowledge it might provide.

The first meeting brought a focus on language, and emphasised the need for a shared terminology and discourse, and it foregrounded the question of consensus or ambiguity. In the second meeting we continued to pursue these questions and persisted with the effort of building a glossary of terms and a resource of key texts and materials that might serve this endeavour.

Among the other questions brought forward from the first event were:

  • What sound is to different professions / tasks / disciplines?
  • How different disciplines listen / record sound?
  • What different professions, academic researchers, etc. hear?
  • How the listened to is evaluated, communicated and applied?
  • How listening can be taught, shared?

But many more questions arose during the network days.

Our aims are to investigate the possibility of a shared vocabulary, produce a glossary of terms and methods, compare technological, material, conceptual, etc. approaches of listening / recording sound as well as of its evaluation and application, and in respect to the teaching and dissemination of that auditory knowledge and sensibility. Another aim is the imaginative construction of a shared listening hub, and what it would have to provide, and how it might have to be conceived, built, structured and worked with to be useful across the disciplines.

Public Engagement


Points of Listening #27: Deep Listening with Ximena AlarcónSeptember 15 2016

In the evening of the first day a Points of Listening (PoL) event opened the discussion to a general public. A full description of the event and documentation is available on the Points of Listening website. 


Radio Series on Resonance FM

The event was recorded and has been edited together with other material for broadcasts as a monthly series Listening across Disciplines on our network partner station Resonance 104.4 FM - airing every Wednesday afternoon at 3pm, repeated on Fridays at 5am from January 11 onwards. Listen to past episodes here.


Documentation of the Network Event

The entire network event will be audio recorded and the full documentation will be available soon.


Facebook Group

Ongoing discussions and additional links are shared in our Listening Across Disciplines Facebook Group

Participants Work & Research

Recording Lung Sounds

Litmann 3M electronic stethoscope for recording lung and heart sounds. The blue dots indicate where to place the stethoscope to record lungs sounds related to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Image provided by Anna Barney.

Humanimentical Prototype

Mark Peter Wright, 2015. Microphone, cable, welding wire, acoustic foam, recorderThis ongoing sculptural series situates microphones within a necromediatic context of surveillance, parasites and horror. The sculptures connect technology, human and nonhuman materialities and posit the microphone as an agential performer, one whose consequent representations (recordings) forge a pathway towards monstrous potentiality rather than any singular notion of the real. 

Participatory Mapping Exercise

Muki Haklay; participatory mapping and listening to local community participants’ perceptions of UCL, 2010 (project funded by UCL Public Engagement Unit).

As part of this second event the participants visited the anechoic and reverberant chambers in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton University, and were given demonstrations in audiology.

The Large Anechoic Room at ISVR

This is one of the largest anechoic rooms in the country. It was extensively refurbished during 1995/96 and the original polyurethane foam wedges were replaced with glass fibre wedges.

The skills lab

The skills lab is part of the Hearing & Balance Centre and is primarily used to train audiologists.

Documentation – Resonance FM series

The Network event, Listening to Bodies and Materialities, was recorded and has been edited together with other material for broadcasts as a weekly series Listening across Disciplines on our network partner station Resonance 104.4 FM - airing every Wednesday afternoon at 3pm, repeated on Mondays at 11am from January 11 2017.

Episode 9 with Alexandra Supper. Broadcast date: 11 Jan 2017

In this ninth broadcast Alexandra Supper, Assistant Professor of Arts and Social Sciences, Technology & Society Studies, Maastricht University, talks about ‘listening to the sonification community listening’. She will discuss the use, application, problems and scope of sonification, introducing us to the debates that are currently taking place within the international community of auditory display and their quest to establish sonification as a legitimate scientific method.

Episode 10 with Anna Barney. Broadcast date: 18 Jan 2017

In this tenth broadcast, Anna Barney, Professor in Biomedical Acoustic Engineering in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton, co-investigator of the Listening across Disciplines project, talks to us about her different kinds of deliberate not listening in relation to dementia and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Her talk reflects on the avoidance of listening for reasons of privacy and bio-medical ethics and as strategy for efficiency and objectivity in analysis.

Episode 11 with Rupert Cox. Broadcast date: 25 Jan 2017

The eleventh broadcast in the series features Rupert Cox, a Visual Anthropologist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manchester, who will be talking about the anthropology of sound and in particular his field work, undertaken together with Angus Carlyle, on the US Military basis in Okinawa, Japan. (the CD developed from that research Air Pressure, is published by Gruenrekorder, Germany/ 2012/ Gruen 094/ LC09488/ GEMA/ EAN: 4050486059081)

Episode 12 with Cathy Lane. Broadcast date: 1 Feb 2017

In this twelfth broadcast in the series we will hear from Cathy Lane, composer and sound artist, Professor of Sound Art and co-director of CRiSAP at the London College of Communication, UAL, who will be talking about sound based investigations of place and listening to the past through the present. Through a discussion of her work in the Outer Hebrides she ponders notions of archives and archiving, history and orality and negotiates issues of communication and how we record and compose the spoken voice and situate its social body in sound.

Episode 13 with John Wynne. Broadcast date: 8 Feb 2017

In the thirteenth broadcast in the series, Dr John Wynne, artist and Reader in Sound Arts at the London College of Communication, UAL, will be talking about Listening in the context of “Transplant and Life”, a project produced in collaboration with photographer Tim Wainwright, that gives a voice to transplant patients at two of the world’s leading centres for heart, lung, kidney and liver transplantation, Harefield Hospital in Middlesex and The Royal Free Hospital in London.

Episode 14 with Dan Rowan. Broadcast date: 15 Feb 2017

In the fourteenth broadcast Dr. Daniel Rowan, Lecturer and Director of Programmes in Audiology at the University of Southampton, and lead scientific advisor to the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, will be talking and demonstrating listening with cochlear implants from switch on to a trained ear.

Episode 15 with Andrew King. Broadcast date: 22 Feb 2017

In the fifteenth broadcast we are hearing from Dr. Andrew King, Professor of Neurophysiology Oxford University, and Director of Oxford Auditory Neuroscience Group, who is talking about listening and how we hear. He will introduce us to methods of recording neurons in order to understand and reconstruct the activity of listening, and demonstrate how information about the auditory world is represented in the brain.

Further Episodes of Listening Across Disciplines on Resonance FM

Listen to Episodes 1-8 documenting our first network event Listening to the Environment.

Episodes 16-22 document our third network event Listening to Language, Culture and Artefacts and are airing weekly on Resonance FM. Recordings are made available online each week. 



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