edited by Angus Carlyle, Cathy Lane – On Listening


Uniformbooks, ISBN-13: 978-1910010013, English, 200 pages, 2013, UK

After the seminal “In The Field”, Carlyle and Lane have edited another remarkable anthology of texts, this time focused on the (not so simple) act of listening. Known physical properties are able to trigger the perception of whole worlds and listeners can be immersed in an invisible “listening culture”. The articulation of a dynamic listening space and related practices is attempted here through a wide range of disciplines and contributors (from ethnomusicology to machine mediation, from radio to recording, from underwater sounds to panacoustics and surveillance acoustics). Following their established path Carlyle and Lane have succeeded in commissioning authors involved with both practice-based approaches and purely theoretical speculation, giving both due attention. Forty short essays have been selected (some of which are visual or dialogues), divided into four sections, grouping more than separating and facilitating the not so easy transition from one argument to another. The experience of listening can also define how “active” this practice can be, opposing its only apparent passivity. The rich and diverse soundscape depicted by the writers takes the reader on an intense and magnificent intellectual journey. Since there’s no audio equivalent of the visual “point of view” (we don’t have a “point of audition”), listening perspectives abound, as proven here. And – aren’t we “listening” while we read, as Cascella hints between the lines?