Performing Silence – Københavns Universitet

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ESSA2014: Mapping the Field > Documents > Performing Silence

Performing Silence
Justyna Stasiowska & Isabelle Delmotte

The basic idea of this panel is to investigate silence as a practice. Treating silence as an effect created within a framework including manipulation of audience perception helps to overcome the dichotomized opposition of silence and sound. John Cage's 4'33” is regarded as a ‘silence piece’ in which the performer is silenced in order to amplify sounds, “asking the audience to continue to be obedient listeners and not to engage in utterances that would distract them from shifting perception to other sounds” as Douglas Kahn implies. The way audience perception is manipulated helps to create a sphere of silence, as exemplified in the series of Blackout performances by the artist Tres in which all the devices in the building are gradually shut down. Concurrently, in movies, silence is not always soundless: its narration can be visually or audibly noisy to some members of an audience, but not to others.

How silence is inter-sensorially experienced within an artistic context may reflect the active role of audiences in creating silence. The panel proposes to approach silence as a multi-sensory experience: it invites papers examining the practice of performing silence through a range of media and discussing the inter-sensoriality of sound perception through theories and examples. 


Panel XVI: Performing Silence I
Chair: Isabelle Delmotte
Time: Saturday 15:45-17:45

  • Campesato, Lílian: Noise and Transgression: an approach to psychoanalysis
  • Stasiowska, Justyna: Mayfair Noise – methodology of performativity sound perception 
  • Vanhanen, Janne: Playing (the) Silence: Listening to the Surface of Sound


Panel XXII: Performing Silence II
Chair: Justyna Stasiokowska
Time: Sunday 9-11

  • Coessens, Kathleen & Vanessa Tomlinson: Imaginative listening: silent sounding or sounding silence?
  • Gifford, Toby: What is the Sound of Silence?
  • Delmotte, Isabelle: A digitisation of listening: edit > clip boundaries > detach as silences