What Listening Knows creatively interrogates different concepts around the act of listening, particularly the concept of ‘the microphone’s gaze’, which shifts the idea of the ocular gaze, or camera gaze, into an acoustic dimension:
The project is built up around three individual performers acting as ‘field recordists’ in the landscape, trailing through cornfields, traversing unfathomable henges and earthworks, and scanning anthills and ancient forests. Each performer, armed with microphones and headphones, was prompted to physically interrogate the landscape from non-typical perspectives, activating their listening to find new ways to capture the acoustic forces of the environment.
Following these acoustic cues, Leber & Chesworth have developed a camera style detached from its ocular-centric perspective, imbued with an acoustic consciousness, at times tipping and rotating the landscape, levitating rocky masses, and trailing growths in the forest from both macro and micro perspectives.
Podcast interview: Sonia Leber and David Chesworth interviewed by journalist and presenter Fiona Gruber exactly one year after the start of their residency at Messums Wiltshire.
Sonia and David’s work experiments with how humans reframe and manipulate their experience of the world. They are particularly interested in to how the ‘act of listening’ can inform us in a very different way to visual perception and their work investigates this disconnect.
What Listening Knows is shown alongside Myriad Falls (2017) – a cinematic rumination on chronometric time and natural forces that is focussed on a cluster of outmoded analogue wristwatches installed on a calibrating machine in a horologist’s workshop.
Film above: Sonia Leber and David Chesworth, What Listening Knows, 2021
3-channel 4K video, multi-channel audio (video stills and excerpts)