Sound Art, Endangered Languages and the Ethnographic Gaze

Posted on February 14, 2013 by

On Monday 18th Feb the Social Anthropology Seminar will be featuring Dr John Wynne (University of the Arts, London) on Modes of Listening: Sound Art, Endangered Languages and the Ethnographic Gaze.

The seminar will be in 2.016/017, Second Floor Boardroom, Arthur Lewis Building, at 4.15pm (tea will be available in room 2.066 at 4.00pm). Here’s the abstract:

This seminar/presentation with sound artist and researcher John Wynne will use his work with speakers of one of Canada’s endangered indigenous languages, Gitxsanimaax, to facilitate a discussion about modes of listening. Extensive excerpts from his 12-channel installation Anspayaxw, which has been exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver as well as in San Francisco and at a Native-run museum in Gitxsan territory, will catalyse an exploration of linguistic, ethnographic, musical and environmental listening and the various issues, responsibilities and relational characteristics of these modes. The images and sounds of Wynne’s Anspayaxw hang in the border zones between anthropology and art, drawing attention to the subjective nature of language documentation and photography, and the multiple layers of translation that are central to the documentation and interpretation process. (Kate Hennessey).

John Wynne is a Reader in Sound Arts at the University of the Arts London, a core member of the CRISAP research centre and has a PhD from Goldsmiths College, University of London. His practice includes large-scale multi-channel installations for galleries and public spaces, delicate sound sculptures, flying radios and award-winning ‘composed documentaries’ which hover on the boundary between documentation and abstraction. His Installation for 300 speakers, player piano and vacuum cleaner became the first work of sound art in the Saatchi collection in London. His work with endangered languages includes a project with click languages in the Kalahari Desert and another with one of Canada’s indigenous languages, Gitxsanimaax. The latter showed recently in San Francisco and will be at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver for the second time in September 2013. His work with heart and lung transplant patients alongside photographer Tim Wainwright, with whom he was artist-in-residence at Harefield Hospital for one year, led to a book, an installation and a half-hour commission for BBC Radio 3.