Social Acoustics: Sound, Hearing, Movement, Performativity

Social Acoustics: Sound, Hearing, Movement, Performativity.

Seminar, 10 April 2019, 13:00 – 17:30

Knut Knaus Auditorium, Møllendalsveien 61.

Social Acoustics: Sound, Hearing, Movement, Performativity. Seminar, 10 April 2019, 13:00 – 17:30, Knut Knaus Auditorium, Møllendalsveien 61.

Image: Lisa Busby and Gabriel Bohm Calles, Floor Scores residency, IAC Malmo, 2016.

With presentations and panel including:  
Lisa Busby & John Harries
Kari Anne K. Drangsland
Cecilia Jonsson
Wolfgang Schmid
Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen
Karsten Specht

Moderated by Jill Halstead and Brandon LaBelle

Sound moves. Its movement agitates and radiates – passing through, between and around us. Through its movement it moves us, it touches us, its tactile kinesthetic modes compelling us literally and figuratively. Hearing is a mingled sense. We can hear sound, but we can also see it and feel it – it can change how things taste and smell. As such acts of listening need to be understood as multisensory, dynamic and co-constitutive, with equal capacity to dissolve and disrupt the boundaries between objects, individuals and their environment.  

Hearing acts as the basis for gestures of compassion and care, recognition and mutuality but also refusal and interruption. In a world of noise and need-to-be-heard how is our hearing directed or dulled? Do experiences of hearing weaken us, making us vulnerable to the intensities of worldly contact and each other? As hearing is not always empathically oriented, the vulnerability it may give rise to also leads to profound injury, fragmentation, and rupture. What can be drawn from the complex perceptions sound and hearing seems to engender? Are there new agential positions to be captured by way of the relational and performative capacities of the audible?

The seminar brings together artists, musicians, scientists and researchers to reflect upon questions of sounding and hearing, voicing and listening, and how understandings of embodiment and togetherness may be drawn out through engaging a diverse set of creative practices and knowledges. This will allow for cross- disciplinary synergies and disturbances, which open up social acoustics as an interdisciplinary research framework.

In what ways do the audible and the inaudible inform understandings of embodiment and subjectivity? 

How might an art of sound perform within sites of contestation? 

Are there critical routes to be found by way of social acoustics, which may foster new configurations of shared space? 

Might we consider sound as a resource for crafting collaborations with the ephemeral and the energetic, the unseen and the nonverbal?

Social Acoustics is an artistic, collaborative research project between the Departments of Contemporary Art and Music, University of Bergen, focusing on the potentialities of sound’s relational, material and artistic qualities. 


Karsten Specht
“The neuroscience of auditory processing: From sound waves to perception“ 

Karsten Specht is a cognitive neuroscientist. He received an M.Sc. ("Diplom") in Physics from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, with a thesis focusing on optimising functional brain imaging. He worked for several years as a neuroscientist at the Research Centre Jülich, Germany, before he received his PhD at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany, in Cognitive Neuroscience, where he also did his Habilitation in General and Biological Psychology. He got a professorship at the Department of Biological and Medical Psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway, where he also became the head of the Bergen fMRI group, and he also holds a guest professorship at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, Norway. His main research focus is on auditory perception of speech and music, connectivity and plasticity of the language network, clinical multimodal neuroimaging, and rehabilitation from speech and language disorders.

Lisa Busby & John Harries 
“The same song for a long time”
Lisa Busby is a Scottish composer, vocalist, improviser, and researcher, based in London. Situated across experimental music, performance art, and pop culture, her practice explores processes of making, lo-fi intermediality, and utilization of the found. Materially she is interested in fragments, fringes and collisions of song and noise; artefacts of pop and fan culture; entanglements with historical archives; experimental turntablism and expanded usage of playback, samples and loops; and everyday action as/in performative gesture. Until 2018, Lisa was Senior Lecturer in Music at Goldsmiths University, and is currently Visiting Research Fellow with Goldsmiths Special Collections & Archives. Lisa has performed and exhibited in solo and group situations internationally, her writing on music published by Routledge, Bloomsbury, Dancecult and Her Noise, and her work featured on BBC Radio 3 and 6Music, Resonance FM, and Borealis Radio. Ensembles and ongoing collaborations include The Nomadic Female DJ Troupe, Rutger Hauser, ‘Floor Scores’ with Gabriel Bohm Calles, and art, education, and politics collective Common Study. 

John Harries is Lecturer in Music at Goldsmiths University of London, with specialisms in popular music production, composition and performance; and fringe and experimental musics. John has an extensive professional creative practice in production, performance (drum kit and live electronics) and composition, often situated at intersections of popular music, improvisation and experimental electronic sound. He is founder of various ensembles including Rutger Hauser and Sea Songs; and also of the South-East London-based artists' co-operative, record label and performance series The Lumen Lake. John has performed and exhibited in various solo and group situations internationally including at The Southbank Centre, The Ashmolean, Modern Art Oxford, The O3 Gallery, Cafe Oto, and The Spatial Sound Institute Budapest; at festivals including Incubate Tilburg, Vetrarjazz in the Faroe Islands, Optica Gijon and DoubleDotBash Reading; and worked with record labels Adaadat, Seed, Tutl, and NX Records.


Kari Anne K. Drangsland is a PhD-Candidate at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Bergen. Her PhD-project is part of the interdisciplinary research project “Waiting for an Uncertain Future: The temporalities of Irregular Migration” (Wait). The Wait-project investigates migration from a temporal perspective, and focuses on the condition of waiting and uncertainty that is characteristic of the lives of unauthorized migrants. Drangsland is trained as human geographer, and has the past years been working as a lecturer at the UiB within the field of urban planning and migration. Together with colleagues she has also taught several courses at the Bergen school of Architecture, focusing on themes of temporality, power and politics. She is co-founder of the Bergen-based “Centre of Urban Ecology”, that since 2007 has worked within issues of migration, climate change and planning at the intersection of art, architecture and research.  

Cecilia Jonsson is a visual artist whose research-based projects span installation, sculpture, sound and image. Her work is informed by scientific methods and often consists of site-specific, artistic interpretations of phenomena and processes of nature. The projects are developed as investigations of physical and ideological properties of the raw materials that form the basis of human existence, from origins deep down in the earth, to the extraction, transformation and global exploitation. Jonsson holds an MA in Fine Arts from the Bergen Academy of Arts and the Nordic Sound Art program. She has had a number of solo and group exhibitions in Norway and internationally in recent years and has been awarded international art prizes such as VIDA 16.0 Art and Artificial Life International Awards (2014), Bio Art & Design Awards (2016), an honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica, Hybrid Art (2017) and was nominated for the COAL Art and Environmental Prize (2018).

Wolfgang Schmid is a musician and music therapist working with questions of participation, self-organization and processes of change in music improvisation with people affected by neurological conditions and terminal illness. Since 2011 he is Associate Professor for Music Therapy at the Grieg Academy, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, UiB and coordinates the Five Years Integrative Master Programme in Music Therapy at UiB. He works as music therapy practitioner and researcher at the Sunniva Centre for Palliative Care at Haraldsplass Deaconess Hospital in Bergen. Since 2007 he is guest lecturer in the Music Therapy Master Programme at the University of Arts in Berlin, Germany. Over the past 20 years his research interests genuinely focusses on self-organizational and participatory sense making-processes in improvisational music therapy with people confronted with life changing events and conditions. More recently he began to pioneer the implementation of music therapy as ecological and spatial practice in palliative care in Norway. Applying participatory research approaches he explores qualities of silence and embodied listening with dying persons, their families and professional caregivers, conceptualizing listening as a way of being-with others in the very last period of life. 

Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Philosophy, UiB. His recently submitted dissertation updates the sentimentalist ethics of Adam Smith with concepts and results from modern research, including, notably, the idea of music as a practice, of "musicking", in the article Moral Tuning, co-authored with Jill Halstead (GA, KMD) and Rasmus T. Slaattelid (SVT) (Metaphilosophy, 2018).

Jill Halstead is a professor at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen, Norway. Jill gained a PhD in music from Liverpool University, UK, in 1995 and has published in the field of gender and music and popular music cultures, in addition to practice-led research disseminated through performance and film.  As a teenager, Jill taught herself to play the guitar and devoted quite a lot of time to playing extremely loud rock music.  Over the years she has worked in alternative and popular music as a performer, director and composer. From the mid 1990s she specialized in collaborative devised performance projects, often created over short periods of time, on location with people who were marginalized and vulnerable.  Recent work includes a series of screendance pieces and live performances tackling the social stigmatization around aging and loss. Since 2012 she has been the leader of the Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies, a regional consortium of universities which promotes music based research across a range of fields.

Brandon LaBelle is professor at the Art Academy, University of Bergen. As an artist, writer and theorist he works with isues of sound culture, voice, and questions of agency. He develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a range of international contexts, often working collaboratively and in public. He is currently working on a long-term artistic project, The Other Citizen, exploring modes of self-organized citizenship today. He is also an affiliated professor of the Autonomia Akadimia in Athens, and is a member of The Imaginary Republic.