What is Listening?

This blog post contains my personal musings on, “What is Listening”? Given that we are all living in odd times, there is plenty of luxurious ‘free’ time.

I’m fortunate to live in a place where the sounds I hear/listen to are mainly that of the natural world: wind, birds, sea and animals. Also running alongside this, are the sounds of silence: stillness, blood pounding in your ears, and breathing; almost a state of natural Mindfulness.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been pondering the creative aspect of my life, the senses that I have and how they are borne out. Previously, I’ve never really thought about how I arrive at my ideas, in sensory terms. The visual arts are broad, and its influences multi-facetted; there is no getting away from the history of Art & Design with its huge visual archive, and the way it has influenced us all.

All this is great, but I am beginning to think that it can have a dulling effect on our creative potential – in the sense that visual stimulation distracts from the other senses. It’s interesting how the human brain is habitual and works via compartmentalizing our thought processes. As someone who has had to delve into the neural processes of my brain in order to overcome ‘incorrect’ thinking, it has informed my perception and knowledge of the development of neural pathways.

It occurs to me that over the past two years, my work is being informed by listening to the world around me. I walk a lot on the Machair and record many sounds. “Aural Textiles” has been instrumental in training my listening skills and heightening my perception of the aural world, opening up a whole new philosophical aspect of creative thinking, and making. (If our senses were pie charts, what would the divisions be?). It creates many questions because I’m at the beginning of a differently perceived new artistic pathway: my brain is often perplexed and comes to a halt because there is no habitual and continual neural route. It’s exciting and new to me, offering areas of discovery and investigation;


· What does sound look like emotionally?

· How do you visually interpret sounds?

· How do visually impaired people access visual art inspired by sounds?

· What other ways are there to engage our other senses?

· What IS sound?

…and the questions continue.

One conclusion I’ve reached is that sounds are heard, listening is silent, but the two are complexly intertwined.

We hear many sounds but chose when to listen; listening (to me) is where sound, hearing and the emotions converge.

This link may be of interest to you.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/12-sound-artists-changing-perception-art-587054

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