aural séance

Two men sitting at a table, both with their eyes closed. A woman is standing behind one of them, resting her hand on his shoulder,  leaning down to whisper something to him

Aural Séance is an interactive performance piece exploring inner listening. The participants are asked to take part in a séance, listening together towards inner sounds. The work explores the porous nature of the listening experience, where inner and outer intertwine. It raises questions around how self-contained our 'inner' space really is.

The work is inspired by, and works through, how phenomenology and affect theory can be used to contextualise and analyse experiences of inner sound and listening.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues that we are not, as is commonly believed, composed of a body AND a mind, divided. He instead argues that we experience the world as a ‘body-subject’ – an intertwining of body and mind. Abolishing the division of body and mind, there is no longer a dependence only on the ears to hear. Sensing the world around us (and inside us) - we do this as one being. It follows then, that we also hear as one being—with both a thinking body and a hearing mind.

The work also explores and pushes at the idea of ‘inner’ – what do we mean when we say ‘inner’ experiences? Through the collective listening experience staged in the work, the piece explores the idea of the ‘brain-body-world entanglement’ where, as Lisa Blackman explains in Immaterial Bodies (2014) ‘bodies are not considered stable things or entities, but rather are processes which extend into and are immersed in worlds’. It imagines the ‘border’ of the self as porous and shifting, full of the potential of penetrations and extensions of my ‘self’.

Aural Séance takes this openness, this border of self in flux, and asks what happens if we consider this in relation to other people—the person next to you, whose border of self is in similar flux—what overlaps and connections become possible in this meeting?

Through this, the pieces explore the possibility (real or imagined) of a collective inner listening experience – a human connection, however flawed and fleeting, beyond language and self.

Tate Staff Biennale 2019

Modern Panic 2018

Points of Listening 2017

D!N DINS event, Artlicks Weekend 2017

Video Description: 

The video is a number of black and white still photographs. Three people are seated around a table, early on they close their eyes. A fourth, a white woman dressed in a black dress, with short hair, first stands at the head of the table, and then starts walking around the table. Sometimes she stops and whispers to the people seated.