Sonic advances and retreats: artistic research, leaky acoustics, and a note on how care killed the cat

Eduardo Abrantes

Keywords: Artistic Research, Curiosity, Sonic Strategies, Aesthetics/Ethics

Is it fair to think of hearing as the most investigative of the senses? The most defined by the complex, intersecting, border hopping choreographies of curiosity – by, sometimes unwelcome, permeability? 

Be it through walls (which themselves, a well-known fact, have ears), behind one’s back, in passing, overheard intentionally or otherwise, this paper explores selected junctures between artistic research and sonic strategies, relating to a multi-layered understanding of “curiosity” as an operative principle. It will focus mainly on two elements: a short history of aesthetic approaches, of how the prying ear has been mediated by aural technology; and how these have intersected both with the artist-researcher’s situationally anchored ethos, and with society at large, via forensic, privacy, and knowledge ownership issues.

The paper presentation will be illustrated-activated by an immersive multi-channel soundscape built around the issues discussed above. This will underline the aurally embodied aspect of “curiosity” as a means of engagement, and its confrontation with the obstacles, limitations, and gifts of incompleteness and the partiality of situated perspective.