We listen, all the time, whether we like it or not. Sounds come unbidden to our ears; we (generally) have no say in hearing. We feel the beat in feet and cheeks and skull and trunk and sternum, and heart. We can’t unhear.
So we are aware that we listen, and we—more or less—understand how. But can we take a moment or two to consider other important questions about listening—namely, to whom do we listen, and why?
This program, Why Listen, proceeds from these questions as it attempts to open up the act of listening in social, scientific and political space. It is an inquiry into both the consensus constructing communication—and, indeed, creating communicators—and an attentiveness to the vitality of voices beyond the conceptual.
In asking us to pay attention to voices beyond the human, it suggests we might need to do something we fundamentally cannot—to de-centre our human selves as the listening subject, in order to allow others the agency to sound and to be heard.
Why Listen is an umbrella for a suite of other investigations, including Why Listen to Animals? (2016; 2019); 2018’s major investigation, Why Listen to Plants?, and more to come.