Sonic Continuum: Histories of Listening

Image courtesy Nottingham Contemporary and Till Gatheman
Image courtesy Nottingham Contemporary and Till Gatheman

Due to concerns around COVID-19, contributions to this event will appear in The Contemporary Journal.

The first instalment of the symposia series Sonic Continuum, our long-term research strand investigating practices of world-making through sound and social architectures of time, features artists, thinkers, musicians, and sound researchers to ask how do we perceive time?

Throughout the centuries, philosophers, physicists and musicologists dabbled with a central conundrum: what determines our sense of time? While it is fundamental to ideas of history, to our everyday selves and to our expectations, conventional views describe it as forward-moving, one-dimensional, universal and made up of spatial successions. Musical time, however, is made up of tempos, rhythms and syncopations that ward off, suspend, accelerate and re-organise our perception. Thinking through sound and music, could the ear be the body of time? How do we listen to time?

Histories of Listening is a two-day programme of talks, moving image, poetry, performance and listening sessions that looks at the compositions of time at play in the interconnected biosocial rhythms of human, vegetal and mineral lives. Departing from global histories of labour, it investigates how the complex of time emerged out of colonial encounters and how the pulsing rhythms of colonial modernity are central to capitalist modes of production.

This gathering is an opportunity to explore the entanglement of sound, environment, and imperialism, and addresses climate urgency, colonial memory, and the social distribution of possible futures. Participants include dub techno duo Space Afrika, sing-songwriter Lucinda Chua, global historian Jonathan Curry-Machado, artist Manuel Ángel Macía, sound historian James Mansell, radio activist Diana McCarty, writer and performance artist Jota Mombaça, artist Pedro Neves Marques, poet Selina Nwulu, artist Diana Policarpo, artist Tabita Rezaire, sound scholar Syma Tariq, artist Jol Thoms, and sound scholar Salomé Voegelin.

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