In the 2010 book Program or Be Programmed, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff highlights the need for the individual to learn how to code. The "new literacy of the digital age", coding enables "access to the control panel of civilisation", without which the individual becomes a passive bystander in a society and culture shaped by a small privileged few.
This imbalance of control, and dis-heartening societal passivity in the face of systemic global crises, seems to only deepen over time. Yet as a composer and one of the directors of spatial sound collective 4DSOUND, John Connell argues that learning to listen- cultivating our capacity to detect and respond to signals in our physical and digital spaces – is as important for shaping our future as any line of code. Both physical and psychological practice, listening as a discipline allows us to tune into a sensitivity rarely afforded in the bustle of our daily lives, and the stupefying noise of our socialised (and programmed) mediascapes.
The talk will reflect on the potential of working with listening practices and sound technologies to encourage new – or, perhaps a return to older – states of awareness and reciprocity that can guide us towards more compassionately informed action and sustainable design.
John Connell is a Berlin-based composer and media theorist with a deep interest in the way technology and media can alter perception, affecting the formation of our personal and social constructs both positively and adversely. His central focus is listening as a practice in itself: how our ability to listen opens up new levels of awareness about space, both the external and the internal, and the implications raised for art forms and social interactions.