[ISEA2020] Paper: Chanelle Lalonde — Beneath the Surface and into the Planetary: Listening to/for Coexistence in Contemporary Sound Installations


Keywords: Contemporary art, listening, sound installation, marine soundscapes, planetary, coexistence

Satellite images of the earth present the planet as a whole and seemingly unified object. However, as Jennifer Gabrys argues, the planetary is not a uniform fixed set of conditions, and more distributed monitoring environmental sensors can point to the ways in which the earth might be seen not as one, but as many. This paper considers how contemporary artists use sound to hint towards the planetary by closely engaging with Leah Barclay’s WIRA (2015), a geolocated audio walk along the Noosa River, and Calder Harben’s Bodies of Water (2017), a low-frequency audio installation that engages with the violence of ocean noise pollution. Drawing on Brandon LaBelle’s theories on listening, it argues that these sound installations, by engaging viewers in acts of deep listening, amplify various forms of coexistence among humans and more-than-humans that challenge the satellite view.
These bring us to ask: How do we listen to what we have not been trained to acknowledge, understand, or interpret? Can listening to what we cannot understand still be productive? Ultimately, listening is elaborated as a productive sentient engagement with marine worlds that makes apparent our entanglement with soundscapes we do not inhabit and bodies that are not our own.

  • Chanelle Lalonde is a PhD candidate in Art History at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, she obtained an MA in art history from Concordia University (2018), and a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Ottawa (2016). Her current research, which is supported by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, explores the work of contemporary artists who attend to human-nonhuman relations in the context of ongoing environmental degradation and climate change. More specifically, it considers how aesthetics of listening are increasingly present and ethically relevant in contemporary ecological art. You can follow the work that I do with the Grieson Research Group at this website: griersonresearchgroup.ca