artistic research:          “multi sensorial hearing perspective”

My ongoing artistic research is about the “multi sensorial hearing perspective” or how the hearing is influenced by the information of the other senses, how we develop our personal hearing perspective depending our sense (dis)abilities, attention, talents, taste, how we are moving our body, trying to stay in balance while negotiating through and being part of the local sound habitat where we live and work, with the rules and customs of our society, the culture in which we grew up, the intimacy of the parental homes where we did our first steps towards the other while starting with babble and touch, learning the way to communicate, hearing and listening. Our “multi sensorial hearing perspective” as part of our personal story and cultural identity.

In 2000 I started developing my idea’s on the multi modal aspects of hearing and started to call this the “multi sensorial hearing perspective” as part of an ongoing artistic research: collecting spoken and written reactions, talking with people about their personal “hearing perspectives” in relation to listening, their listening habits, their sound images and sound memories.

Physical aspects of the hearing perspective

First it was concentrated on the material and physical aspects of the perspective (the relation: sound object / body / space). How could the public respond to and be responsible for their own way of experiencing the tactile sonic installations by: moving their bodies, using their hands, ears and skin, by changing the position of the sound object, by physically experimenting and challenging their ways of hearing abilities.


    “red woollen sound blanket connections” including  “sound bridge” (link)

Bringing together idea’s about a more common expected visual perspective, while turning the body or closing the eyes, with a more layered omni surround hearing perspective when using the ears, being penetrated by the surrounding sounds and in the same time experiencing an “intimate” haptic and tactile awareness of hearing by touching, embracing, sitting near the sound objects, close to the body, feeling the resonating sounds through the hands, the feet, on the skin or and running through the whole body while standing in the “super sonic sound scape shoes” (link), becoming part of the sound object and multi sensory soundscape it self.

During presentations I also asked deaf, hearing disabled and blind, sight disabled people about their experiences and ways of hearing / sensing sounds. They all developed their own personal multi sensorial hearing perspective depending of age, the moment of becoming disabled and their personal habits of using and combining their senses. We all sense the sound habitat with personal and cultural multi sensory hearing perspectives. (aural diversity) Also when we are differently abled like sight – or hearing disabled. We can be open to “bring together” (conduct) our personal experienced (dis)abilities and qualities when sensing soundscapes.

In “the bone conductor” – installation, research project (link) I use the inclusive and connective qualities of a tactile sonic sculpture the “woollen sound bone” combined with bone conducting headphones letting people experience audible and tangible “sensescapes” in their own way. On a bigger scale we can enrich our inclusive knowledge of the sound habitat and become joined creative and responsible conductors of the global composition. (acoustic ecology)

Social and cultural aspects of the hearing perspective.

For me the physical and mental aspects of “listening” are intertwined part of our “multi sensorial hearing perspective”. Our (dis)abilities for (un)conscious listening in the sound habitats we grow, work and live is continuously influencing our social-, cultural (hearing) perspectives. 

After a while my research also raised questions about the social and cultural aspects of the hearing perspective. It rendered a lot of personal and collective associations and questions about how we hear with multiple senses:


  From what hearing perspective do we start listening, what are our given hearing (dis)abilities, even before we start listening?

–  How is the gesture of our body influencing the way we hear and listen, how is our way of moving and being in the space influenced by culture and how does this scape our hearing perspective?

Placing our ways of hearing and hearing abilities in a cultural, political, historical and more inclusive perspective.

–  And from what perspectives do others listening to what we hear? What is their cultural hearing background, bodily sensitivity, gesture behaviour, goals, taste or desire? What is making sense for them while hearing?

–  What comes first: the selective movement of our body towards the sounds we (want to) hear or the interpretation when we listen? The vibrations of the sound around us did already penetrate our body before we started to listen.

Maybe we did smell the question of the person coming to us and we answered with the gesture of our body already before we really listened to what the person was asking.

The resonating voice of the mother has coloured the emotional hearing of the child already before it learned to listen to her incorporated message even when the child was still growing in the womb of the mother.

How do we learn in a psychological, personal and cultural way, to combine all these information of our senses using strategies to integrate the information for increasing the reliability of what we (want to) understand of what we hear?

–  As we grow up we learn that we listen with our ears and we start “to forget” that we first heared with all our senses in a certain perspective?

   By the use of multi modal art and – learning methods we can start at early age during sense – and language development helping (differently abled) young children to play, communicate, orientate in their sound habitat?

In 2015 realising the interactive tactile sound sculpture installation “babble and touch” (link) for children 0 – 4 year and their (grand)parents for the Babelut festival, Musica BE.


Data information

On a global scale our “multi sensorial hearing perspective” is also influenced more and more by emerging technologies that make use of gathering uncommon sense information data. Furthermore, transducing the sense based digitized data into new forms of sense information like sonic visualization, data sonification, new tactile vibrational information, etc. It is making accessible what vibrates under and above human perception. By the translation and transformation of (gathered, recorded) sound data, machines and interfaces are “listening” for us.  In biophonic-, sound ecological-, social contexts we now can make sense of information about things, species, phenomenon stretched over time, that we never really heard or experienced before. For example, with use of extreme small recording equipment we can hear our world from the body of a large whale underwater communicating with its calf or from between the wings of a bird high in the sky.

By being open for what is beyond our own sensory hearing perception in reality we can broaden it with new and (un)sensible information. We still remain response-able and even more responsible for the world we are connected with. We have to listen to the ecological changes and implications of our acts as humans.


  “We can be more aware of our being sound performers and

                 conductors of our own sound habitat.” 


From 2005 on I am actively participating as independent artistic researcher in sound – and sense studies inspired by and working together with interdisciplinary humanistic scientists, (sound) artists and others. For example during the Inside Knowledge Conference, University of Amsterdam.

As a member of

                      World Forum Acoustic Ecology (WFAE)
               World Listening Group / project
               Ambiances network
                    Sensory Studies network
               Aural Diversity network
               Nieuw Geneco (Dutch contemporary composers)