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Iris Garrelfs

Goldsmiths, University of London
London, United Kingdom
The Listening Wall: strategies for scored listening

We live in divisive times, Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico being just one example. In response, Listening Wall is a participatory project devised by Iris Garrelfs, operating from the premise that the process of listening connects us with our surroundings (LaBelle 2015). The work presents a collection of curated instruction scores for listening, with flexible exhibition parameters, although it often is an actual wall. Scores are also made available as A4 print-outs for audiences to take and experience at a time of their choosing.
By now Listening Wall has taken place in a variety of settings, from academic workshops (Points of Listening) to music festivals (Supernormal). It has become evident that artists and audiences alike bring many different views/approaches/sensibilities to the experience of listening, depending on both personal and cultural parameters (Schafer 1992). Contributing artists so far include Cathy Lane, Graham Dunning, Jez Riley French, Jo Thomas, Salome Voegelin, Viv Corringham.

This paper explores some of the strategies emerging from the scores in Listening Wall that these very different artists have employed. Some for instance focus our attention on the experience of listening and the quality of the sound itself; others aim to instigate relationships with very specific aspects of the audible environment (c.f Chion 1994); others prioritise our imagination or instill mischievous behaviour, reminding us that listening does not just relate, but can disrupt too (Westerkamp 2015). In short, each of these scores presents a unique voice which relates members of the audience to their surroundings and their own imagination, becoming a co-creators of the works. The paper therefore will also give consideration to how diverse audiences have related to these approaches; it formulates a community of listeners, in the making and experience of these scores.

Iris Garrelfs works on the cusp of music, art and sociology across improvised performance, multi-channel installation and fixed media projects. Her work has been presented internationally, for example Tate Britain (UK), Transmedia Borders (Mexico), National Gallery (UK) , Royal Academy of Arts London (UK), Visiones Sonores (Mexico), Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome), MC Gallery NY (US), Onassis Cultural Centre (Athens), Gaudeamus Live Electronics Festival, (Amsterdam), Barbican (UK), International Computer Music Conference NY (UK). Garrelfs is the Pathway leader for the MMus Sonic Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she also co-heads the Sound Practice Research Unit. She is also editor of the open access journal Reflections on Process in Sound. http://irisgarrelfs.com/