De-territorialized Listenings 

De-territorialized Listenings is a series of site-specific binaural soundwalks, seeking to challenge the hierarchies of our sensorial and imaginative structures, which are often limited and preconditioned due to the human tendency for habituation and adaptation. Using adaptive spatial audio, which is reactive to the participant’s body movements and location, these soundwalks strive to facilitate a sonic psychogeographic dialogue with a site. The project intertwines research from several fields of study: sound and media art, art in public space, the field of locative media and technology, and the field of sensory studies and emotional geographies.

The ongoing negotiation between subject/object and location has been critically examined from within a wide spectrum of ideologically different cultural practices, ranging from Frederic Jameson’s concept of “cognitive mapping”, Henri Lefebvre’s “production of space”, Michel de Certeau’s “walking in the city” and Lucy Lippard’s “lure of the local.”

De-territorialized Listenings not only proposes a transformation of familiar soundscapes by inducing a “mobility of the self” but also addresses deterritorialization in the context of cultural globalization and distancing from the locality developed through mediatization, migration and commodification of life under the global capital. While deterritorialization speaks of “the loss of the natural relation between culture and the social and geographic territories,”[1] these soundwalks focus on a dialogue with historical, social and geographical contexts by valuing and rethinking local knowledge and environments.

Through direct interaction with the local community (i.e recorded interviews and discussions) combined with geographical, historical and material research on-site, these soundwalks explore the intimate and collective memories, as well as the ones ingrained in the site in question by facilitating a dialogue through the act of walking. With storytelling as a method, archive and memory are intersected to expose a range of possibilities that occur and prevail as scattered expressions of archived experience. This is formalized through the combination of immersive storytelling as well as through abstract sound art practice and generative composition based on walker movements.

By dismantling the inter-sensorial hegemony often dominated by sight as a verifier, this project aims to provide experiential auditory platforms both for exploring and revealing our cognitive and narrative patterns, but also to mediate further layers of experiencing and connecting – reverberating – with a site. This resonates with Gaston Bachelard’s auditive metaphor “sonority of being” borrowed from Eugène Minkowski to describe the phenomenology of space through its reverberation, but also echoes Miwon Kwon’s dialectic elaboration around the concept of “belonging-in-transience,” where she acknowledges the necessary coexistence and interaction between a “nostalgic desire for retrieval of rooted, place-bound identities on the one hand, and the anti-nostalgic embrace of a nomadic fluidity of subjectivity, identity, and spatiality on the other.” [2]

The field of locative media has been present within various practices of art in public space since the early 2000s, and the concept of psychogeography has since been continuously blended with new technologies and sensory awareness. Artists such as Teri Rueb, Christina Kubisch, Jeremy Wood and Christian Nold have creatively been using geolocation, sonification of magnetic fields, sensory and/or social data together or in parts. This resulted in a rise of hybrid ambulatory practices focused on augmented explorations of location and lived experience integrating an array of technological extensions. Souza e Silva addresses locative media as “nomadic technologies,” providing us with spatial and bodily experiences by augmenting our perception, but posits that overuse of locative technologies often approaches the notion of location as a mere “set of coordinates,” ignoring the fact that the concept of location is in fact a merging of “materiality, meaning and practice.”

De-territorialized Listenings proposes a technologically driven, poetic experience, where real-life auditory events will be replaced, juxtaposed and intervened in by parallel sonic environments, narratives and compositions, be they synthetic, acoustic, musical, abstract, distorted, haunting, or hyperreal. A custom-built AR app for mobile phones utilizes both the phone’s gyro as well as accelerometer data to track a walker’s local positions, body angles and movements, as well as geolocation pins in correlation with GPS signals to trigger sound events in the larger geographical realm. Applying these multiple data inputs to provide narrative triggers as well as direct participant/walker-defined sequencing of audio events, the artwork tries to offer fresh entry points to facilitate different layers of active embodiment of spatial coordinates.

Richard Cándida Smith notes how “each expressive form provides a site for memory that draws upon dispersed traces of the past which remain real only to the degree that their contents are incorporated into a repertory available to suggest options for future action.[3] Exploring notions of the past as a springboard to future potentialities, the artwork seeks to engage the participants into personal and communal reflection as well as cater for a renewed understanding and perspective of their locality.


[1] Gil Manuel Hernàndez i Martí, “The deterritorialization of cultural heritage in a globalized modernity”,  Transfer: journal of contemporary culture, no.1 (2006): 94.

[2] Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2002), 8.

[3] Richard Cándida Smith, “Introduction: Performing the Archive” in Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection, ed. Richard Cándida Smith (Routledge, London and New York, 2002), 11.