Three Readings [Miles]

Fluxus: Focusing on Attention

From the sound walks, my idea of listening has more to do with an attitude toward attention than any one sensory input. Along this line of thought, I imagine a sound piece in which the listener is told to listen through their fingers. They are asked to touch various objects, people and surfaces – and are instructed to attentively listen to each one. At the end of the piece, the listener is told to listen to their own body using only touch. This piece relates to “palm healing” practices, in which energy is thought to be transferred through touch.

“In everything said there is the latent horizon of the unsaid which situates the said.”

I play a game with my friend Paul in which we talk to each other using only the phrase “thank you”. The range of meanings you can communicate through tone alone is remarkable. Similarly, this sound piece makes economical use of a single word – like “yes” – to communicate a narrative. This piece centers on recognizable human events: a politician giving a speech, or a couple having an argument. Participants are given a random scenario to act out with the constraint that they can say at most a single word. By reducing the space of the said to a single word, the “horizon of the unsaid” is foregrounded.

Thinking about gesture as a stand-in for spoken language, I’m reminded me of this performance by Liz Magic Laser, which re enacts presidents’ movements during State of the Union addresses.

Personally, I would like to see the gestures of a disembodied voice; for instance, the gestures of voices featured in radio advertisements, or the gestures of unseen telemarketers. A piece that explores this could involve actors who listen to recordings of these voices while imagining and performing gestures for them in real time. I’m interested in how tactics of coercion manifest in the human body, and how a viewer would read these gestures without knowing the source from which they are derived.



One thought on “Three Readings [Miles]

  1. Love your comment on listening as a type of attention — gets to both Ceraso’s multimodal listening but also made me think of an article that talks about online ‘listening’ and social media: Kate Crawford, “Following You: Disciplines of Listening in Social Media

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