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Tinnitus Channelled

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

initial project proposal by Tam Hare,
for a research project,
Foreign Objekt, May 2023

'Post–Tinnital image 2' – on 'Channelled' noise & tinnitus

Research Project Proposal

Overview/Summary

This project takes tinnitus and the concept of noise as a basis for artistic research conducted through experimental performative collaboration. This multi-participatory project happens within a series of collaborations, which lead into various performative acts. Its terms of delivery focuses on performance (and) philosophy and the research potentials of artistic practice.


This speculative inquiry confronts ideas of noise and cognition, in relation to tinnitus by utilising a character creation (the Abstract Child*) as a vehicle that conceptually ‘drives’ this experimental ‘test’ of performance philosophy. Hence, I intend to unveil situations that engender tinnitus within this subject by creating distinct representations of how this condition affects them and what the implications are and could be.


Introduction

The project’s intentions lead to various performance events: live, online and/or a mix of both, with the participating artists. The artists and researchers involved currently are, Två Cirklar, John Bryden and myself; with additional input from Will Edmondes (Yeah You), Andrea Phillips and Tim Shaw, all three of whom have vital supervisory roles on the project. With further considerations being an ongoing process for the project also, its next task (2023) is therefore, the proposition of future collaborations. Those whose work is currently making an impact on the project in this regard include: Amy Ireland, Oona Doherty, Alba Folgado, Marie Thompson, Patrick Farmer, Sonia De Jager and Martina Raponi, amongst others.


The project will culminate in the publishing of texts and other relevant documentation, in an experimental-exploratory capacity. The long-term objective is to publish this research series as a physical document that includes a variety of possible forms of presentation, such as text, audio-visual works, performance etc. .


'Post–Tinnital image 3' – on 'Channelled' noise & tinnitus,
part of the visual research for this work

Detailed Research Proposal

Context

My research contributes to the fields of contemporary continental philosophy, through sonic musical performance and my foundational fiction-theory writing practice. This is done to create a new type of philosophical performance that explores these disciplines (see Performance Philosophy Journal for further context). What is meant by fiction-theory practice is an intention to refocus these texts’ foundations towards lucid anthropocentric framings, so as to break with primarily fixed subject-based accounts. I attempt to create works in this spirit by formulating texts that explicitly question and experiment with language and forms of literary writing. This topic also stems from my larger doctoral research project* and its interest in contemporary philosophy’s preoccupation with embodied characterisations that focus extensively on a specifically formed subject. It takes tinnitus as its point of departure — anchoring this expanding collaborative and critical undertaking. How tinnitus is ‘channelled’ into my subject and what symbolic potentials and implications this auditory condition has, is the key concern for this artistic and critical task. Therefore, this work’s ‘matter or concern’ and realisation occurs through my writing. This ‘experiment’ therefore coalesces around the fields of contemporary performance philosophy, fiction-theory writing and collaborative musical sonic practices, which relate to the research topics of tinnitus and noise as the grounds for this relation.


By engaging with these fields, my broader research becomes a record of bringing these disciplines and forms of art making together. This is where the project speculatively emerges from. Consequently, the knowledge exchange happens here through a contribution to philosophy’s tradition of character-based constructions that are conducted using sound, ‘sonic’ practices, fiction-theory writing and collaborative performance. These works are a fusion of this research and development, and aim to test concepts of noise specifically relating to tinnitus.

This character and concept is subsequently the ‘vehicle’ used to critically examine philosophical characterisations relating to the themes of tinnitus and noise as a basis for artistic research. I recently began this work as a collaboration with the Scottish artist, musician and composer John Bryden. We began by meeting regularly to discuss this work, mainly around the concepts of tinnitus, noise and other related ‘sonic disturbances’ that manifest within this character construction. These meetings and their material results have taken the form of discussing selected joint readings, collecting, sharing and discussing materials in our Google Drive, Are.na accounts etc. . This has led us to the idea of collaboratively ‘scoring’ an experimental performance piece in ‘real-time’, by using various intuitive approaches, under select conditions and environments. My plans have developed since then, and I intend approach a number of other creative-critical practitioners to join this project’s experimental collaboration(s).



To summarise, this multi-participatory creative-critical work has become the foundation that the project is constructed around and where the work’s main concept tinnitus shall continue to evolve from. Therefore, by adapting the creative potentials of tinnitus and noise as the works’ conceptual focus, and through experimenting with fiction-theory literary practice and collaborative performance philosophy, we aim to reveal ideas and elements about this auditory condition by depicting how it shapes the creation of my speculative character, as its initial foundation.


Topic/Background

Medically, tinnitus is described as being neurologically “defined by an auditory perception in the absence of an external source of sound.” My own longterm experience of this condition and its symptoms, began my recent interest in tinnitus as a subject for artistic research. This project’s topic evolved through/with my semi-fictitious character, for it seemed to fundamentally fit with their own history as well. As my research develops, the actual experienced and symbolic nature(s) of this condition is making for an in-depth and enriching theme for this expanding project. As a result, this manifests sensorially within the subject and crucially acts as a basis for these collaborative works, beginning with John Bryden (his Eyes of Others work) and Två Cirklar (our recent piece Conditions of Redirection: A Trialogue was performed at Fylkingen in April 2022); and migrating to and merging with, other project participants.


Method/Focus

We are surrounded by noise. And this noise is inextinguishable. It is outside-it is the world itself-and it is inside, produced by our living body. We are in the noises of the world, we cannot close our door to their reception, and we evolve, rolling in this incalculable swell.


This project substantially began by centring on the concept of noise, specifically in relation to Michel Serres’ philosophical work. His book The Parasite, where this quote was taken from, has played a pivotal role, both critically (his treatment of noise and the “living body” are of foremost concerns here), and in terms of the expansive nature of this book’s literary form and ambition. I am also focusing on the research of Marie Thompson in connection to noise, and eventually tinnitus, as part of this process. Her book Beyond Unwanted Sound: Noise, Affect and Aesthetic Moralism, alongside her collaborations with artist Patrick Farmer, have been useful references for this project. In her book she ultimately takes a view that noise cannot be “abated in its entirety” for it is not only disruptive but crucially “foundational”. This is what “allows transmission to occur in the first place”. This idea of ‘foundational noise’ is one I am eager to pursue in this work. Presciently, Farmer is a tinnitus conditioned artist as well and has dedicated significant amounts of his work to focus on this condition, most notably in his book Azimuth, The Ecology Of An Ear (2019). The notion of a ‘feedback loop’ and specifically its parasitic potentials, informs an idea that this aspect of my research is building on too. This ‘loop’ occurs when certain sounds are heard and generate adverse emotions — anxiety for instance. This then makes the sounds pervasive to the subject experiencing them, and under certain conditions, these begin to affect other cognitive patterns.

The focus of the project has sharpened through this research, and the evolving nature of my collaborative practice has encouraged me to create and manage a larger research project around tinnitus. The involvement of other individuals who can engage with this idea and its expanding themes is vital to the work’s expansion. My approach will allow them significant autonomy over their eventual in/output — with these collaborations being set through extensive planning and in-depth discussions/meetings. This method of discussion and correspondences will enable us to develop the work(s) together toward various final collective manifestations.


The sorts of artists and practitioners I plan to approach and engage with developed and synergised through my sustained interest in the research of philosopher Cecile Malaspina and specifically her book An Epistemology of Noise and study group Aesthetics of Noise: Philosophy, Digital Culture and Artistic Experimentation. In her book she describes noise as a sort of parasite and “threat to the norm and subversive of work and order”. Noise is “the relation between the known, the unknown and the differently known”, in both its sound and “random variation” manifestations, and this project will speculatively focus on both. Through this facet of the research, I have begun to study the writing of philosopher Gilbert Simondon. His notion of the ‘transindividual’ presented itself as profoundly relatable to the project’s methodology. This definition of it constituting an “operation in which a certain amount of individuals (born from successive operations of individuation) construct a relation between themselves that ultimately form a consistent aggregate”, provides vital material and impetus for devising a method that will bring together different individuals who can engage with these ideas in order to form an ‘aggregate’ of this nature, around their/this research. Crucially, this process of collectivity, which amalgamates and coalesces through the diverse collections of responses to this project’s themes, is where and how this constructive ‘aggregate’ takes place.

Finally, my intention is to reveal a process of Simondonian ‘individuation’ where the ‘pre-’ moves into a ‘trans’-like state through the multiplying and proliferation of various works and sources produced by us together, as the project’s participants. These assessments are significantly aligned with my thoughts and interpretations regarding tinnitus; especially around my interests in “the vignette of sound and tinnitus” that act “as a way to understand how technical objects produce inorganically organised affects and how these affects shape and alter the body”. This is where these collaborations find their research sources, and it is this notion of the ‘technical object’ that again heavily draws on Simondon’s work, which is according to Malaspina in her extensive work on Simondon, “evidence of” a “founding ‘human act’ and also of its functional intelligibility. It can, in principle, be deconstructed, reconstructed, and transmitted as information”, or as Simondon presents and discusses this concept, as “pure information”. Consequently, Simondon’s ‘transindividuation’, alongside the ‘technical object’s’ critical versatility and ‘functional intelligibility’ contained in it as a foundational ‘human act’, further emboldens my plans around creating this larger collaborative project. This has been initiated by centring this project on the various ‘affects’ and artistic research potentials of the auditory condition tinnitus.


Tam Hare, May 2023

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