Social Acoustics: Communities in Movement

Social Acoustics: Communities in Movement is an artistic research project led by Prof. Brandon LaBelle at the The Art Academy – Department of Contemporary Art, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen (2019-2022 NARP-funded). The notion of “social acoustics” is positioned here as a framework for reflecting upon the ways in which listening facilitates collaborative and emergent forms of sociality. Listening is underscored as affording an expanded sense of relationality by which to navigate the material, institutional, and affective constructs of social life, figuring and refiguring oneself in and amongst others, from the human to the nonhuman, the familiar to the unfamiliar. Listening emerges as a question of attention, understanding, and the capacity to hear beyond the legible and the recognized, and is highlighted specifically as means to negotiate one’s situatedness within particular environments or contexts. Through such an understanding, the project poses the “acoustics” as the architectural, linguistic, and social arrangements that support or hinder the work of listening, leading to issues of orientation and resistance, belonging and alienation, compassion and interruption.

The project is organized around as series of collaborative “research movements” situated within specific sites and cities. Each movement is self-organized by a select group of researchers, leading to a speculative and emergent approach to what it means to be-in-community. The project takes guidance from what Stavros Stavrides terms “communities in movement”, which is posited as the undoing of identitarian politics and enclaves of exclusion. Rather, communities in movement emerge as “liminal bodies” always already in transition. Following such a view, the project aims to query in what ways listening, and acoustic practices, facilitate or support community as movement, leading to a set of localized discussions and artistic presentations.

See project website: