Listening Choir

A project by Adam Kinner & Christopher Willes, with Jeremy McCormick.

Listening Choir is a performance that takes participants on group walks through urban spaces. Enacting a practice of group listening, these walks present a way of encountering the affective landscapes of public settings together through an experience of sound, and reflect on broad notions of common space, participation, and how a city changes.

Using homemade recording devices to record and playback found sounds, participants subtly alter the sounds of the city and perform simple choreographies of listening together. Agreeing to drift without speaking, the group collects recordings of places, objects, language, and ideas within the present environment creating a continually fractured soundscape with each act of recording erasing the previous. These recordings are choreographed, listened to, in various ways throughout each walk, evoking the sounds of the immediate past, the sonic dislocation of objects and spaces onto others, and the folding of histories and places on top of one another.

Listening Choir invites making listening itself the thing that is listened to. Trespassing on traditions like sound-walking and the situationist dérive, the project seeks to conjugate collective and individual ways of hearing, and proposes the act of listening within the urban setting as politically forceful.

“The Listening Choir is hearing things. Our choir is silent and our songs are movements. We hear loud things, and unheard things, what’s been drowned out or quieted, what’s been softened by history; the endless refrain of the city. Some of the loudest things are inaudible, but we live in the aftermath of their force. We’re orienting there, to the loudness and to the aftermath, to the echo and its displacements. But if hearing could be moving, then our songs are wholly unlocated – a way of listening deprived of centrality. Here we propose ten scores of dispersion, ten ways to move together in disarming loudness.” 

Listening Choir was originally developed through a residency at Videofag in Kensington Market.