Listening to You Listening
Participatory Sound Installation
What happens when we listen? Close eyed
in- leaning. Listening. Encountering a room of apparent silence, it is not immediately clear what sound the speakers are producing. You must get closer closer still ear to the cone. Awareness is focused. As I strain to hear. The microphone below the speaker (the one I am intent on listening to) is picking up and broadcasting my movements, my breath, my noises - the sound of my listening - to another speaker in the room. I hear nothing. Or - (listening) - is that some sort of scratchrusstlewindmovement? Some signal breaking through I whisper: "......?"
Drawing logically from Alvin Lucier's Empty Vessels and Douglas Hollis' Listening Vessels, Listening to You Listening is a system designed to facilitate the act of intentional listening among its participants. Intentional here is the key word, for in todays world, aural (and visual) stimuli are often times thrust upon us, giving us little to no choice in our participation. In LTYL the participants must make the participatory decision themselves, first, to be curious about what is emanating from the loud speakers, and next to lean in, listen, and find out what it is. It is the sound of their listening efforts which are broadcast throughout the sound-system.
That the listener is also the sound generator is an act of deep meaning, efficient design, and humor in line with John Cage's Zen aphorisms. I say efficient design because of the simplicity of the signal flow - the 1:1 nature of the piece. The sound put in by the listener is exactly the sound put out by the system.
Meanings are various. In a society of constant passive (and/or involuntary) sensory input, it is significant if even one person makes the conscious decision to stop and become an active listener, engaging with their environment. Additionally, there is a real connection made between participants. Strangers in a room become the listening intimate - sharing a genuine moment of focused connection, however brief.
Listening to You Listening ignites curiosity and awareness, humor and connection.
Lean in listen and you are there.
Participatory Sound Installation
Listening to You Listening is constructed as follows: 6 loud speakers are placed on stands on equidistant points around a circle. They are facing outwards. Below each speaker is a microphone, also facing outwards in the same direction as the speaker. The signal picked up by each microphone is routed to the speaker directly behind and opposite. The volume level of the speakers and gain of the microphone is kept intentionally low. This invites the participants to lean in closely to hear what the speakers are transmitting, which is, in-fact, the sound of someone else leaning in closely to listen, or the sound the room, or even the speaker itself.
Room should be minimum 12m x 12m
Technical Equipment & Materials
1 x Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro mixer
6 x Adam Audio F5
6 x Speaker Stands
6 x TRS Audio Cable
6 x XLR Microphone Cable
6 x Sennheiser ME64
6 x mic stands
Set up & Routing
The microphones are placed underneath each speaker, facing outward in the same direction.
Microphone 1 is routed to Speaker 4
Microphone 2 is routed to Speaker 5
Microphone 3 is routed to Speaker 6
Microphone 4 is routed to Speaker 1
Microphone 5 is routed to Speaker 2
Microphone 6 is routed to Speaker 3
Room should be well lit with neutral lighting
Operation / Guide for Audiences
Take your time, approach slowly, Walk around the circle, Lean in close and listen, what do you hear?