Date: 30 October 2022
Place: Theatrum Mundi, 15 Clerkenwell Close

This workshop formed part of Theatrum Mundi’s PolyVocalCity education programme. It was led by John Bingham-Hall and Gascia Ouzounian. A zine with the outcomes of the workshop can be downloaded here.

What limits the ear and the ways we describe what we hear? How can we, from divergent starting points, expand our ways of listening to and communicating the sounds around us?

The workshop started from readings and creative works that offer ways to ‘unlearn’ dominant modes of listening and explore new representations of sound. Working through theoretical texts challenging modes of hearing, and urban ’scores’ inspired by graphic musical notation, we aimed to disrupt the visual paradigms that have historically shaped architectural and urban practice. Together we tested critical modes of urban listening–ones attuned to the social and political conditions of cities and the unequal conditions of urban communities–and notational devices that go beyond language to share experiences of sound. 

The workshop combined methods from previous projects developed together by the workshop leaders, including Acoustic Cities: London and Beirut (2019), Scoring the City (2020-ongoing), and the Unlearning Listening reader (developed by the workshop leads in collaboration with Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson plus previous workshop participants), combining texts on sound, critical and transgressive listening, sonic heterogeneity, rhythm, and voice. 

The group started engaging together with readings and scores, discussing the questions and modes of representation they encode. Then participants individually chose a moment in the surrounding environment to listen critically to, feeding back to a group discussion exploring ideas of sonic displacement.