Perceiving, Navigating and Inhabiting: Performance design through sonic strategies

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In the intersecting fields of performance, technologically mediated live arts and artistic research, the significant potential of deploying sonic strategies is by now well documented. Sound-driven performance design is becoming widespread due to its efficacy in raising awareness, critically engaging with, traversing and intervening in the complexities of the everyday. Site-specific embodied approaches in particular, such as binaural field-recording and audiowalk composition, have notably underlined the relational, exchange-oriented constellation of interactions between individual and collective bodies, and their diverse surroundings.
The audiowalk format – defined as an immersive soundscape composition, which is anchored in an exploratory embodied perspective, and based on listening while moving and interacting with a specific environment – particularly stands out in enabling innovative ways of perceiving, navigating and inhabiting places and communities in contemporary societies. It is implicitly performative, in the sense that the listener’s immediate bodily agency is at stake when a specific choreographic engagement is suggested (following a path and finding your bearings; walking, running, crouching, paying attention to the near and to the far; listening to the layering of composed sounds, local noises leaking in, and “added” sounds brought forth from induced aural imagination). Through a combination of headphone-dedicated aural scenography, choreography, and sound design, the audiowalk activates modes of being embedded in site and situation. This article will focus on presenting and discussing artistic methods and performative strategies, developed to counter the aural passivity of everyday listening. It will borrow from selected case-studies of artistic production, as well as from my own experience as a sound artist, creating, researching, and teaching process-oriented sonic strategies for performance design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerformance Research: a journal of the performing arts
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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