For more detailed information, please change to the German version of this website.

4 Dec 2023 | Sam Auinger | Thinking with the Ears – towards a Hearing Perspective

source: Kathrin Scheidt

Thinking with the Ears – towards a Hearing Perspective

Looking back on my more than 35 years of artistic collaboration with Bruce Odland, we operated from the beginning with developing an auditory perspective as a general approach to our creative works, mainly sound installations in public spaces. Our work was an ongoing artistic research that touched all the areas that seemed relevant to us to understand how sound is created, how people perceive sound and what stories the ears tell. Acoustics, design and materials, psychoacoustics, neurology, and physiology, in the sense of why do I hear what I hear, including all the cultural and social implications that a sound event triggers in us, are the central questions of this research. This approach resulted in methods, practices, and insights that helped us and is still helping us in our work. Our approach which we named hearing perspective, created and still generates discourse material in many related and unrelated fields such as architecture, urban planning, study of the senses and the political dimension of sounds. In my lecture "Thinking with the Ears - towards a Hearing Perspective," I will discuss our artistic research employing some works and give insights into our working process.


Sam Auinger is a sonic thinker, composer, and sound artist. His artistic research focuses on deepening the understanding of acoustic/auditory qualities in urban living environments. He propagates a "thinking with the ears." For him, it is a critical everyday practice for understanding our role in an endangered planetary climate at all levels, from the social to the ecological. Together with artist Bruce Odland, he founded O+A in 1989. Their central theme is hearing perspective. They are known for their permanent sound installations in public spaces, tuning - transforming urban sound in real-time. As in the works harmonic bridge MassMoca (US) since 1998, Sonic Vista Frankfurt (D) since 2011, and at documenta 14 with "Symphony of Resonances" in Thessaloniki (GR) in 2017, among others.