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The Listening Project
The Listening Project
Listening
Duration: 1 year
2006

This is a project about active listening for a year.
I actively listened to people and the world around me.
I asked people to talk about listening and listen with me, I took notes and occasionally created images in reflection.

The Listening Project now exists as an archive of field recordings, interviews, notes...


Below is an excerpt from one of the listening conversations.

Neil/Bob: can I share one more thing along same lines?

me: (no reply- was distracted from chat greeting my roomate)

Neil/Bob: herro?
I musta ranted her to death...
or you're getting more wine
so I'll rant a little longer until you come back
Ralph has something in the section on Marxism which stuck
It was that since Marxists focus on the material side of things

me: sorry flatmate just got home

Neil/Bob: you gotta go?

me: no - keep going
rant away

Neil/Bob: okay - a short one
Marxists identify with the inherent exploitation of capitalism
so
when the tread in their shoes
they hear the voices of the children who sewed the stitches with every step
another kind of listening
maybe
kinda like listening to things
or products to hear their representative stories
or something like that

me: yes! I'm interested in that kind of listening to things - to histories of things
or sounds that things make or

Neil/Bob: it could be that you don't have to actually hear a sound, in order to listen to something
the idea of histories could be explored too
as you said

me: exactly - was just typing that

Neil/Bob: maybe think of the concept of a "narrative"
the shoes themselves don't speak
but one can follow their story
or genealogy

me: your shoes squeak

Neil/Bob: we are to some extent the products of our upbringing
yes they squeak!
so if you talk to your grandma
you can hear the words she chooses as the sum total of the narrative of the family history
her values etc come from this lineage
can't articulate this clearly, but you can see where Im going
I can't think every thought
I can't be "objective" 100%
so when I talk (and rant) what I say is reflective of that cultural, or genealogical history
whether I am conscious of it or not
that is a kind of narrative - hearing the things that I don't say, but are audible anyway
I'll shut up now

me: no, don’t - I love it
i feel like i just want to take the role of learner in this whole project
i realize that i project my own thoughts and ideas quite a bit
this project is getting me to listen if not anything else

Neil/Bob: yes - I am TERRIBLE at it
but wish to improve

me: you are better than most

Neil/Bob: flatterer

me: being back in American - I've found people easy to talk to - good conversationalists even, but not always the best listeners
conversation and listening doesn't go hand and hand - or doesn't seem to as I initially thought

Neil/Bob: does that indicate that we are increasingly desperate to be heard? kinda ironic really

me: possibly. yes
ironic, yes

Neil/Bob: maybe (since it is late, and you have wine) you could just do an exercise with a bit of paper looking at the discourse of this
write down several key words on a piece of paper
then looking at each in turn
see which words tend to cluster around them
good fuel for ideas

me: hmmm - good idea - i started something similar in the studio
hey - shall i call you "no-name" in the record of this dialogue?

Neil/Bob: or could use an alias

me: what will your alias be?

Neil/Bob: ah, you can choose
did you know that gmail can record these chats?
I think I have that feature switched off
but it is probably set to on for you as a default

me: ah- maybe ill do that - for now I'll just copy paste
I'm collecting conversations
they are all candid
some e-mail
or just notes after a conversation

Neil/Bob: that will be interesting
something that has interested me
is how dialogue manifests itself
for example
why some parts of this dialogue are overtly (edited out)
some might be clearly masculine or feminine
etc
what is the reasoning behind the different flavours/aspects/manifestations etc
might be off the topic for your project though

me: to be continued