Acousmatic Lectures

–an ongoing lecture series–

The Acousmatic Lectures have roots in discursive practices and propose a listening experience based on the Pythagorean acousmatic model: a mode of presentation in which the speaker is hidden from the public. Acousmatic Lectures encourage both orator and listener to focus exclusively on the acoustic space that provides a frame for the spoken word, its temperament and tone, without the addition of visual information or the speaker’s body language. For this series of lectures, all visual clues generated by the speaker’s facial and bodily expressions (which normally influence how information is received) remain hidden. Nevertheless, the speaker’s voice and its dissemination in the surrounding environment still convey the speaker’s physical presence. This approach underscores the dialectical conflict between abstract and sensorial information, confronting us with an array of decisions specific to the act of listening itself.

* Acousmata

The term references a Pythagorean tradition according to which only Pythagoras’s most devoted students were allowed to see and visually perceive him during his lectures. By contrast, newcomers were made to sit before a curtain concealing the master’s physiognomy. Students were therefore left without any visual information and had to try to follow the lectures solely by attentive listening.

The lectures are academic in nature—a deliberate choice of the artist. The speakers are academics and scholars who talk about their specific areas of expertise. The intention is to observe what impacts the acousmatic settings have on participants, and specifically without the influence of any artistic or aesthetic sensory effects. In the Acousmatic Lectures held thus far, a performative character has been observed that condenses the classic academic lecture scenario into an acoustic experience that functions both informatively—on a linguistic level—as well as in an acoustically qualitative way—on the level of the voice as instrument—and is capable of transforming situations, content, and space. These aspects are made legible through the ways in which the acoustic characteristics of the voice interact with the surrounding space. As such, they might be experienced as a means for determining the interaction between and transfer of linguistic and affective sensory information.

Lecturers: Alex Arteaga, Sabeth Buchmann, Ernesto Estrella, Markus Gabriel, Marcus Gammel, Federico Geller, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Nihad Sirees, Birgit Schneider, Sven Spieker, u.a.

Listen to the Acousmatic Lectures online visit the official page >

Interview für w/k Zwischen Wissenschaft & Kunst – Online-Journal (German)

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Alex Arteaga, Acousmatic Lecture rehearsal 2017