Listening In…

I have been working with arts organisation At the Library and Sefton Libraries to develop a programme of events that explore how ‘listening in’ can help us empathise with other things and people. I was inspired by a chapter on ‘over-hearing’ in Brandon LaBelle’s Sonic Agency – Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance. Given that up to now, I’ve been interested in finding ways to represent connections and networks in a less didactic way, I thought that positioning your ears between things and paying attention to the resonances that they are sending to one another, human or not, could be a way of doing this. It also subverts the common conception of ‘listening in’ as something sneaky, akin to surveillance or online profiling. LaBelle suggests it can be reframed as supporting ‘new practices of care: to hear and attend what the stranger says’

The aim was to consider how the libraries, often associated with quietness, can be a platform for listening and noise making. So, I wanted to set something up that involved people listening in to different things, to get library staff involved in listening, and to invite some artists in to find the noises for us to listen to. Finally I wanted there to se something online that could be shared for those who couldn’t make it along to listen live.

The result was the Listening In… project. We worked with visitors to the library, the library staff and invited artists to come ‘listen in…’ These included producing a recording of a walk and Forest Bathing session with artist Niki Colclough at the end of her Modern Nature project in Crosby’s Rimrose Valley Country Park, walking distance from Crosby Library – listen below:

We also invited Shortwave Collective, and international group of artists who explore radio through a feminist lens, to make radio receivers and listen for signals along along the shore. This linked in with the areas part in the history of wireless communication, being the site of the first maritime radio station.

Andrew PM Hunt is a composer and musician was also invited to come and work with us. He ran a deep listening workshop on the modernist site of Crosby Library, listening in to the architectural spaces. Using field recorders, the participants made a sound recordings in the space that Andrew transferred to tape loop, later performing a live mix using 4 track tape recorders in the library itself, during the daytime. Listen to an except below: