by Sandhya Daemgen
#2 FEBRUARy 2021
I am currently leading a class at the University of Art entitled Listening Laboratory & Feminist Radio. As our last project I asked each student to come up with their own question and response, as related to their experience of our listening practice.
Below is my own posed question and response.
I have been researching the many ways there are to listen. The approach I am most intrigued by and investigate, is embodied listening. Through influence from my own contemporary dance background, as well as from Pauline Oliveros’ sonic meditations, I develop and lead a listening practice that is through the body. This listening method is meant to be practiced as a group either in person or online. It is through this practice that listening has become an integral part of my personal, artistic and collective perspective.
We often start embodied listening through breathing. We listen to our breath. We connect to different parts and sensations of our bodies. We give ourselves a moment to be, however that is. We listen to the sounds surrounding our bodies, we listen to the inside of our bodies. We connect to our bodies as rooms where sound can be made, heard, sensed and imagined. We expand our idea of listening, from hearing with our ears, to listening with our whole selves to ourselves, to each other and the space we inhabit.
What comes up when we listen often does not fit into any preconceived notions. It can be a jumble of sounds and thoughts. We attempt to accept this jumble as it is. Sometimes a moving and clear sensation comes through and grabs us and sometimes it does not. Sometimes we get frustrated that we are just not able to listen that day. This is all a part of the practice, which we continually return to.
We allow space for all the messy sounds, thoughts and sensations that we have. We allow time for all the messy sounds, thoughts and sensations that others have. We allow ourselves to exist in the complex tapestry of natural and man-made sounds that surround us on a daily basis.
We hear and connect to those practicing in the room with us. Or we imagine and connect to those virtually practicing with us.
When we listen from our body we allow ourselves to be affected by every rustle, chirp, whirr, breath, hammer, swoosh, heartbeat, rumble, cry, ring and beep.
We hear and allow space for all. We are not easily seduced by those simply loudest or most resounding. We value the faintest whisper.
We recognize and acknowledge voices and opinions, especially those perhaps previously unheard or overlooked.
Here we practice valuing curiosity and sensation. We practice listening with no agenda or prejudice. We notice that each individual reacts in differing ways and we encourage each to follow their own path and process.
Listening in this way encourages us to go slow and tune in. Every person, neighbor, neighbourhood, building, machine, street, park, tree and even bird has a history, a story to be listened to.
Embodied listening not only encourages respect and connection from person to person, but also from person, to animal, to plant, to object.
Embodied listening is a complete and equal opening and re-ordering. Based on this tuning in, it hopefully can expand to an eventual re-navigating and re-structuring of our society.
I would like to end with a quote from Pauline Oliveros from
In My ‘American Music’: Soundscape, Politics, Technology, Community
“And I am sure everyone has experienced someone not listening to them. I began to understand that many people felt that they were not being heard (something especially true today, both locally and globally). I recognized that being heard is a step toward being understood. Being understood is a step toward being healed. Understanding is a step toward building community”
Thanks for Listening