New paper: Extant Listening; Or, Ec(h)otechnics
Naomi Waltham-Smith is presenting a paper on nonhuman listening after extinction at a workshop on Voice and Environment at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI) in Berlin.
In what sense is the world audible after human extinction? And what does it mean to suggest that an increasing lapse of attunement to our environment and its survival is symptomatic of a certain self-extinguishing character of human aurality which lives on only by destroying itself? If the Anthropocene, as geological strata, will be readable long after geologists and human reading will have become extinct, this paper presents a similar thought-experiment to speculate about listening after human listening. The anthropogenic destruction of the planet and of other species can be tracked by ear, and yet it is typically far more audible to technological or animal ears—through ocean tomography, for example, or in the traces of animal perceptions of noise left in changing patterns of migration. I look back in the opposite direction along history’s unfolding to the evolution of the mammalian ear and specifically the role of epigenetic changes so as to explore possibilities for non-human modes of listening at once beastly and prosthetic.