Social Acoustics: Sound, Embodiment, Community

Social Acoustics: Sound, Embodiment, Community

Sounds are deeply relational enabling gestures of compassion and sharing as well as disruption and cacophony. How might forms of sonic practice contribute to contemporary struggles? Are there particular discourses on embodiment and community to be drawn from the experiences of audition? Might certain affordances be garnered by way of sonic knowledge, particularly to challenge what Isabell Lorey terms “governing through insecurity” prevalent today?

Social Acoustics is an artistic, collaborative research project between the Departments of Contemporary Art and Music, University of Bergen, focusing on the potentialities of sound’s relational, material and artistic qualities. In particular, the project engages sound as a productive medium for nurturing collaboration and an ethics of radical openness, and for challenging models of knowledge and agency defined by the apparent, the legible and the quantifiable. In contrast, by probing sound’s non-representational, temporal, tonal and interruptive qualities, the project focuses on how sonic practices and discourses may engage illness and injustice as well as nurture new modes of resistance and well-being. If the norm of crisis and insecurity shapes our experiences of the world today, it becomes imperative to enable conditions of care that may turn vulnerability and precarity into states of possibility.

As Les Back states in his book, The Art of Listening, a “sociological listening” is needed to create a space for the excluded and the marginal, as well as the injured, for those that do not always have a voice. This may be extended to recognize how listening is an everyday practice shaping the ways in which friends and strangers may meet, and acts of hospitality as well as disagreement can occur. As such, the project will pose a set of questions as to what constitutes an act of listening, what consequences might sound studies have for research culture, and in what ways may an art of sound instigate alternative modes of being together.

Project facts


Social Acoustics: Sound, Embodiment, Community




01.01.19 - 31.12.21

Total budget

1.000.000 NOK


University of Bergen

Project members

Jill Diana Hjørnevik
Brandon LaBelle
Karsten Specht
Karin Antonia Mössler
Wolfgang Schmid
Simon Gilbertson
Katie Overy
Beatrice Allegranti