Lecture and Talk

With Mace Ojala and Marja Ahti
In cooperation with Sonderforschungsbereich “Virtuelle Lebenswelten“ at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

In a reality where technology is inexorably taking over more and more functions and tasks, we would like to compare the characteristics and potential of machine hearing with the traditional capabilities of human hearing. Are we aware of the difference between data driven analysis and contextual understanding, between objective and subjective listening? How can we combine both in critical, cooperative and emancipatory ways? Could listening help resist, reject and subvert the narrow roles imposed on us by our alienating consumer cultures, and instead retune our more-than-human ears towards open-ended, democratic, poetic and careful relations within the entangled more-than-human world on which we depend on?

While themselves mostly silent, modern computers have become excellent at listening to the environment, to each other, and to us. Noise cancelling, music compression algorithms, and Apple’s Siri are familiar examples of such machine listening. It often fades into the background, mixing into everyday infrastructure. However, a sudden glitch in an online meeting reveals the ghostly presence of the digital ear. Can we turn it back upon itself, and hear what it hears? What spectralities, ambiances, reverberations and resonances might we learn about by listening to, and with the machines?

Media researcher Mace Ojala from Ruhr-Universität Bochum will argue why we should use our computers for speculative and critical listening, and shares a few practical tips how we could.

Another aspect of listening will be presented by artist Marja Ahti. She discusses her compositional practice as a way of exploring the world, tracing her philosophy of listening and encounter through recent solo and collaborative works. Ahti reviews the interplay of chance and intent in her music, the poetry of ordinary sounds, listening as attunement, and her use of field recordings alongside electronic and instrumental timbres and tunings.

Both presentations will be accompanied by audio examples.

Mace Ojala and Marja Ahti will then discuss with the audience to what extent we can become more attentive to the developing opportunities and risks of technological progress through a more conscious approach to listening.

Talk and discussion will be in English language. Admission is free.

WED // JUNE 05

15:00 – 16:30

Stühmeyerstraße 33
44787 Bochum

Admission free

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