An aesthetic controversy regarding the value of conceptual and ambient sound art opens this theoretical investigation into sensation, perception, and understanding. The contrast between valuing sound through language or listening calls on aesthetic philosophy and social phenomenology to transcend existing theories of perception that tend to be rooted in the sense of sight. Extending from the sensus communis, the phenomenology of expanded listening demonstrates that sonic percepts are specified in terms of cognitive attention and temporal adumbration. Judgment and conviction are distinct evaluative processes that draw on cultivated taste and embodied sensation, respectively. An emancipated listener finds enhanced political agency in a sonic sensorium, obviating the mediation of text. Though the history of visual art has tended to value the skillful hand or conceptual mind of the artist, sound art may allow listeners to contribute a broad spectrum of meaning and value through bodies with diverse sensory abilities engaged in expanded discourse.
The Emancipated Listener: Embodied Perception and Expanded Discourse
Whitney Johnson (PhD Sociology, 2018) is an adjunct assistant professor of sound and liberal arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a lecturer in media arts and design at the University of Chicago. As sound composer Matchess, she intimates the sound of the unknown.
Whitney Johnson; The Emancipated Listener: Embodied Perception and Expanded Discourse. Resonance 1 September 2021; 2 (3): 334–352. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2021.2.3.334
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