For a long time, the primacy of vision and the visual represented an unquestioned basic assumption in the world of art. Admittedly, there was repeated criticism of “ocularcentrism” or, more generally, of the establishment of the Western worldview on the basis of unconscious-optical coordinates. But this questioning of the priority of the visual, especially as far as broader cultural contexts were concerned, never really seemed to be consistently advanced. Rarely, too, has the fundamental receptivity that inevitably constitutes any understanding of art and culture been attempted to be traced back to a sensory basis other than that of vision.
Reason enough to ask about the conditions, if not the necessity, of an “art of listening”. After all, many cultural conflicts of the present day prove that people are simply no longer listening. Social and political disputes have become a prime example of particularistic or sectarian bossiness. The social-media networked subject, despite all its supposed openness to the world, is predominantly trapped in the echo of its own voice. And the universally propagated diversity in cultural events is put to the test when it comes to actually listening to the other. If one wanted to establish a community of the heterogeneous, the voices and other manifestations of the foreign and non-uniform would first have to be heard – without knowing from the outset what the other can, wants, must or should do.
Listening, or learning to listen, as a complex, community-building practice: the first issue of 2023 wants to explore this experimental scenario, from considerations of perception theory and media, to interpersonal and subjective aspects, to the big question of where something like understanding (not to say agreement) can be found in the great global confusion of voices.
Publication date: 15th March 2023