Come and join us on a Listening Walk of the local Deptford area. We will spend some time thinking through a few sites in and around Deptford that we want to listen to: What does community sound like? What does gentrification sound like? What does culture sound like? What does how we live sound like? Maybe we can answer a few of these questions as all go together in an exercise in listening to where we live. We will start at Tidemill working together on a route around the local Deptford area and collectively decide on the sites we should listen too. Then we will walk together in silence around all the chosen sites. On returning to Tidemill we will ask ourselves ‘What did we hear?’ and make a record of our answers.
A Listening Walk, is being led by Chris Jones of 56a Infoshop & Ultra-red.
The sound art collective Ultra-red studies, develops, and tests procedures for collective listening that contribute directly to political struggles. We invite communities to listen to the acoustics of contested spaces, their own and others’ demands and desires, the echoes of historical memories of struggle, and their own self-organizing activities.
ON LISTENING TOGETHER: WHAT DID YOU HEAR?
A few years ago, rather than asking people simply to listen to what we had made, we began asking, “What did you hear?” The modesty of this query belies the labor of shifting the foundation of Ultra-red’s practice from the terms of music (e.g. aesthetic evaluation and the organization of sound) to those of listening—the relationship between intention and perception. This shift was necessitated in part by the still unsettled correlation between our aesthetic and political interests and orientations.
Rather than ending with representation, we begin with representation. Then, “What did you hear?” The question enters the object into a relationship, an interrogation. When the representation is about to close in on itself, we restate the question or displace one object with another. As a second consequence of asking “What did you hear?” we situate our sound practice in relation to specific constituencies, locations, conditions and concerns. Most importantly, we organize listening as a collective rather than as an individual procedure—listening as a relation to an other.
Finally, and perhaps most difficult to discuss, is the tense of the question: “What did you hear?” There is an acoustic action, the attention that bends to it, and then the question, “What did you hear?” What we heard was our encounter with the object. Our responses to the question teach us, in part, the terms of that encounter. The articulation of these terms provides the foundation for a political analysis. Thus, rather than only paying attention to what the sound represents, to what it indicates or means, collective organizing benefits from a rigorous understanding of how we tender our attention, of how we listen.