Embodied Listening and Sonic/Haptic Immersion

This area examines listening as a full-bodied phenomenon, collective listening/sound activities that Van Nort describes as “performative mindfulness” (including Deep Listening practice), and the ways that biophysical sensing and the sonic/haptic spectrum can be engaged to enhance a sense of attention, immersion and connection for participants in workshop and performative installation settings.

 Work in this area centres around two main research projects:  

Deep Listening Entanglements

This research project builds upon Van Nort’s practice and facilitation work in Deep Listening. A certified instructor, he spent 15 years working closely in a one-on-one fashion with Pauline Oliveros in planning and guiding groups of varying sizes, and applying Deep Listening principles to workshop and performance settings that also engage interactive media — with this work continuing in the Dispersion Lab context. This experience has led to a deepened understanding of the truly embodied nature of listening, and of the profound sense of immersion and intersubjectivity that can occur in groups engaged in listening and sounding using nothing more than voice or found objects.  This research has observed both the potential for deepening this via technological mediation, but also the potential for distancing and distraction that this can bring. Early work using simple hand-made analog electronics in a workshop context called “Deep Listening Through Electronics” engaged this challenge, and now this lab research project further builds upon this using interactive, spatial, immersive sound, haptics and light in the context of Van Nort’s approach to Deep Listening facilitation that involves listening meditation, energy exercises, and new sonic meditation-style text pieces written for this context. The research engages performers, interactive media designers and general publics in Deep Listening practice and asks: can you imagine ways that  interactive systems can synergize, entangle with, and augment – but not distract from – this practice? This includes enhancing a balanced attention to internal (heart, breathing, etc.), group and environmental processes. Sensing focuses on biophysical data as well as audio signals, and media focuses on non-ocular senses via sound, light and touch.  Agent behaviours are also engaged to further examine the sense of non-human agency that already manifests in Deep Listening practice.

NOISE: Non-ocular Immersion and Spatial Emergence

This research project is focused on creating an array that traverses sound, haptics and distinct modes of lighting. The goal is to create a system that can explore spatial gestures across these modalities, and the sense of emergent structure that can manifest across the senses in differing performative contexts, including the Deep Listening Entanglements project, the Doug Van Nort Electro-Acoustic Orchestra and various telematic performance settings.  The project includes distinct approaches to spatial control of ambisonic sound and virtual acoustics, custom interactive lightboxes and a large, high density haptic floor that supports experiments focused on full-bodied listening (e.g. with soles of feet).