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Listening In, Sounding Out

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6 May 20237 May 2023


This workshop asks about places of difference in the history of sonic technologies to pose questions and engage different possibilities about the future of speaking and listening. As we live in a present with a particular imaginary of and relationship to the future (as indicated by predictive technologies, climate catastrophe, and financialization), we address digital media technology as world-making. We start from the proposition that digital media technology is part of the infrastructures that provide the conditions of possibility to speak and be heard in the first place, to organize and collectivize, and to formulate struggles for liberation. At the same time, we want to address how those (sonic) infrastructures exist within and operate through extractive capitalism, market interests, the nation-state system, and means of oppression. Within these tensions, we explore possibilities and formulations of listening and speaking and the meanings we assign to the voice and ask how these practices are transformed through a present and future determined by ubiquitous computation.

Animated by the curiosity in how different groups of people have historically defined and used their voice, have produced or filtered out noise and engaged in their soundings we will address, among others, phenomena such as pervasive consumer technologies based on voice and speech recognition, dialect recognition of asylum seekers' testimonies, apps used by trans folks to train and transform their voices, and assistive technologies innovated and used by disabled people. These phenomena and practices point to the materiality of the voice and sound, their entanglements with the body and technology, and the cultural meanings we assign to the voice and open the following questions:

Given that the voice is a central concept for liberal understandings of personhood, testimony, presence, and agency, how are these understandings reformulated when speech is refused, when sound is distorted? How do we study what is often seen as incomprehensible? How might sonic technologies and practices reinscribe racialized, gendered, and otherwise discriminatory designs? This workshop will bring together scholars in media studies, sound studies, technology studies, musicology, and design to ask these questions. Taking place at Hellerau, built in 1911 and initially used as a theater and school of Rhythmics, and during the festival of contemporary music, the workshop thus also explores the role of space and place-making in the history of sound and its archives by looking at the literal and symbolic resonances that reverberate in the archive and the history of technology.


TitleListening In, Sounding Out
SubtitleResonances of Future Pasts
Duration6 - 7 May 2023
Degree of recognitionInternational event
LocationTU Dresden