14 December 2017
Unlearning Listening

Atelier TM

Part of the Atelier Theatrum Mundi series of workshops under the Global Cities seminar at Collège d’études mondiales, FMSH, and in the context of Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson's Centre for Language Unlearning (Residency common infra/ctions) at Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers.



Thursday Decembre 14, 2017
14:00pm - 19:00pm

Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers | 41 rue Lécuyer, Aubervilliers

Free entry

Participants are invited to bring a sound recording device.

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Unlearning Listening proposes a reflection on how our way of listening affects our understanding of the surrounding environment and how we navigate it.
A groupwork / soundwalk co-led by Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson, Richard Sennett, John Bingham-Hall, Gascia Ouzounian, Matthieu Saladin

"Unlearning listening" can be read in two ways. Firstly, as unlearning a prevalent mode of listening, which normally focuses on what is clearest and closest to our concerns and sensibilities, or things we have been trained to consider important or relevant, and filters out what doesn't accord with them. Secondly, unlearing by listening, engaging in a more general undoing of coded reflexes by practising forms of listening that are multiple, fragmentary, dispersed and that may tend towards what is inaudible, unknown, out of focus, out of view: idiorrhythmic edges of perception that can open our ears and minds to a disorientation of self-certainty, as well as a more complex sense of the world we share and of our relationship to different forms of otherness.  

The afternoon will consist of 4 interconnected movements.

We will start with a reading group and discussion, focusing on questions such as unlearning listening habits, idiorrthymic listening, liminal and edge space, minor acoustics and active listening. This will be mainly in English, but with the possibility of other languages coming into dialogue.

In the second part of the afternoon, we will make a soundwalk in Aubervilliers, in the area around Les Laboratoires, for which we will provide a map. The idea is that each of us take a different route to record a sonic portrait of the area, which is currently undergoing profound urban and social transformation. We will try to think about the ways in which sound may reveal, conceal or modulate these dynamics and tensions, and also how they may open up possible lines of resistance and fabulation. Other points of reflection we would like to address: how do we record what is not there, what has been suppressed or forgotten, what is revealed by silences and absences? What are the implications of the way we frame recordings (i.e. of what we bring to the foreground/background, whether we focus on detail or plan?) We’re also interested in learning/unlearning from forms such as music, cinema, video and architecture, and how they lead the ear and the eye to certain priorities.

Following the walk, we will gather again at Les Laboratoires for tea and biscuits, and for a chance to discuss and compare our approaches during the walk and our different experiences.

We propose to conclude the evening over some drinks, offered by FMSH, where we can continue our exchanges in a more informal manner, and think of possible ways to develop this sonic exploration.

Participants are invited to bring a sound recording device (anything from a digital/analogue recorder to a smartphone + headphones).





Atelier TM

Atelier TM is a group of city-makers and sound-makers working together to mutually enrich their crafts by forging shared questions and new modes of collaboration. It forms part of the Global Cities research chair at the Collège d’études mondiales, held jointly by Saskia Sassen and Richard Sennett, and is therefore based within the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris, and part of the international Theatrum Mundi network. 

Atelier TM responds to several issues in the way the urban is described, imagined, and ultimately designed. Firstly, that urban design is an overwhelmingly visual practice, carried out through screen-based computer-aided design and evaluated through images that privilege visually-replicable forms. Secondly, that experimentation in urban design tends to be focused on products rather than processes. Sound and music offer valuable ways to work past these issues. Sound emerges from the way spaces are used: it is produced through the movement, communication, friction, and resonance, of bodies in and against architectural space. Music, as a craft, involves distinct social and technical forms that are alien to the practice of urbanism: non-verbal cooperation, rehearsal, improvisation.

How, then, could acoustic terms and techniques be used to describe places and their social character? In doing so, can urbanism find invisible ways to intervene in the city and measures of value beyond the visual, privileging embodied use over fixed design? Can aspects of musical craft such as rehearsal and improvisation be translated into the practice of urban design? Would this help designers find new modes of collaboration and cooperation with other practitioners and with citizens? Finally, in the context of Paris’ attempts to overcome its separation from its suburbs, what is revealed about the spatial politics of the city in looking at its musical cultures?

Atelier TM will build a group of fellows in Paris from across the worlds of urbanism, architecture, sound, and music, in both creation and research. They will have access to monthly workshops in the form of discussions, site visits, sharing of works-in-progress, and co-creation. These will bring together the local fellows with guest practitioners and facilitators from elsewhere. Fellows will also be invited to take part in informal working sessions using multi-media facilities at FMSH to develop projects or techniques together. When ideas or projects emerge, that fellows would like to share with a wider public, Atelier TM will help to disseminate these through a seminar series titled Re-crafting urbanism, taking place at FMSH or partner projects

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Global Cities research chair

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Global cities
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John Bingham-Hall
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