A listening protocol

I start in the present. An uncertain here and now.
I feel my own body and feel my feet touching the ground.
I don’t look at something in particular. I attend to my breathing and listen to the sounds around me.
What are the sounds that are close to my body?
What are the sounds in the background, in the distance?
What movements, intensities, rhythms, voices are there?
What moves me?
What stops me?
I follow instances when sounds become entangled, reverberant stories.
Acts of the imagination.
I distrust my ears.
I return to the material, spatial, or temporal realities of my listening experience.
I attend to the sounds in-between.

My listening protocol is not a set of fixed instructions on how to listen. This protocol is a set of notes for listening, which I use as part of my practice-based research on sound, art, public space and postcolonial entangled histories. It both reflects past listening experiences and anticipates future listening experiences. It is thus always preliminary and up for amendments. Though not binding, these notes for listening are aimed to be as concrete as possible. The restrictions that this implies are wanted, because they confront me with my presumptions and embodied habits of listening. So they also work as provocations. What I will do with them in the actual listening situation cannot be foreseen. How long I will stay with each of these notes for listening, or if I will skip some of them entirely will be decided spontaneously and on sensory, rational, poetic impulse. Listening is a mode of being-in-the-world and thinking which allows me to explore its powerful, critical, embodied and speculative agencies.

This listening protocol was written in relation to conversations with Salomé Voegelin and Mark Wright who visited the Sound Studies Lab at the University of Copenhagen in the context of their research project Listening Across Disciplines. They discussed with us our individual and collaborative research approaches, our ways of developing research focuses, applying methods, and publishing research results. However, they focused primarily on how we employ listening as a research method. Towards the end of one of our meetings, they asked us to outline our individual listening protocol: »Such protocols are derived from practice and the observation of practice, and take the form of an instructive document that while providing a shareable framework retain space for the contingency and unrepeatability of sound.«

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