On Listening #1: Thinking (through) the ear

photo: MACBA

Curated by Arnau Horta is ON LISTENING, a new program by the radio of Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, MACBA. The first part of the series, Thinking (through) the ear, is a fascinating exploration of listening and sonic philosophy in the words of key contemporary thinkers, going around different issues which include phenomenological questions around listening, ideas on sound ontology and the possibilities of the sonic in terms of thinking, interpreting and perceiving.

It can be streamed online or downloaded at MACBA Radio. A supplementary PDF with info on the authors, bibliography and other resources, is also available for download.

vía MACBA Radio

“To what extent is listening ‘thinkable’? Philosophical inquiry, deeply rooted in the visual regime, seems to struggle when it comes to theoretically coming to grips with listening and sonic phenomena. It is, after all, no coincidence that the Greek term ‘theoria’ (θεωρία) means ‘looking at, viewing, beholding’. This programme explores philosophy’s seeming difficulty in grappling with listening and its counterpart – sound – as a powerful deconstructive means to cut through some of the philosophical certainties that underpin classical and modern Western thought. Can we conceive sounds as objects, or it would be more appropriate to consider them events? How far can the phenomenological approach to sound take us, and how much can we rely on it? And what about new materialisms? Are they more useful, in hermeneutic terms, when dealing with sound and listening?”


  • 1:30 Salomé Voegelin – Listening as a tool to reconsider philosophical certainties and conventions.
  • 6:40 Peter Szendy – The auscultating subject, power and the fundamental disimetry in listening.
  • 20:50 Christoph Cox – Materialistic listening and the limits of a phenomenological approach to sound.
  • 31:24 Casey O’Callahan – Sounds are not objects but events.
  • 46:10 Salomé Voegelin – Possible world theory and listening.
  • 58:21 Seth Kim-Cohen – Listening as a form of writing and inscription. Anthropocentrism versus Anthropomorphism.
  • 1:09:19 Julian Henriques – Embodied listening as a dinamic mode of engagement with the world.