The Politics of Everyday Sound

A Master Class with Susan Schuppli and Tom Tlalim


Thursday November 5 2015, 10am – 5pm
Location: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

In the framework of the exhibition Art In The Age Of…Asymmetrical Warfare investigating future vectors of art production in the 21st century Witte de With presents a master class with Susan Schuppli and Tom Tlalim.

Sound is booming both as an artistic field, and as a field of study. Increasingly, it is also used as a powerful tool to discipline subjects within the context of contemporary urban life and warfare. Sound transforms the ways people inhabit space, and can even act to bring the future—the fear of a deadly drone strike for example—into the present, as is the case with the drone sonics installation Susan Schuppli and Tom Tlalim produced for the exhibition Art In The Age Of…Asymmetrical Warfare.

The master class will tap into the politics of sonic subjectivity in the city. What technologies, tactics, and sound making devices exist in the urban fabric of Rotterdam? Who owns, operates and controls the sounds of the city? How does sound modulate and transform the spaces in which we live and work? What resonances emerge from our common recollections and experiences of sound? Are the acoustic memories of air raid sirens and the aerial bombings that devastated Rotterdam still present in some form today? How might they be triggered again? What impact does the use of Muzak and sonic branding in contemporary consumer culture have on us, as well as on those who work daily under these continuous sounds? How is sound used as an instrument for power and social control in our day-to-day civil society? How might the acoustic sphere of our cities be deployed creatively as a space for resistance and activism? These are all questions that we might begin to think about in preparation for the master class.

Working as a group, participants will investigate the sonic conditions around us and in particular within the immediate vicinity of the Witte de With. Together we hope to develop strategies for bringing the politics of everyday sounds into public awareness through acts of critical listening and acoustic intervention. We will explore case studies, locations and ideas brought forward by each participant, based upon their everyday lives and experiences, with the aim of exposing contemporary manifestations of sonic dominance and acoustic contestation in the city.

Download PDF of class structure

Link to website