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Week Two – Mason Eaton


In this week’s lecture, we talked about site-specific art and sound art. We discussed a variety of sound artists for research and inspiration, alongside the meaning and purpose of both sound art and site-specific art. Most interestingly to me, we discussed the differences between and meanings of ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. I found this very confusing, and have spent time this week trying to figure out why and create a better understanding of the subject. I haven’t been able to complete any artist research or experimentation partly due to being very unwell, but also due to being preoccupied with developing an understanding of ‘listening’ and ‘hearing’, as it both confused and fascinated me. I also felt like this was something important to explore as it is the theme that the project revolves around, and I always fixate on learning and understanding something when I don’t get it initially.

During the lecture, we discussed the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. The following is my understanding of both and the differences between. During the lecture, I couldn’t understand the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ and came to the conclusion that it was something to do with comprehension and understanding; to hear is to receive auditory information, and to listen was to receive auditory information and be able to comprehend it’s meaning. But, after further discussion, I realised that both hearing and listening meant to receive auditory information and comprehend it, and that the difference between the two was something else.

Before delving into this further, it is important to establish that my confusion surrounding this comes from the fact that I have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). APD is where a person has difficulty understanding sounds and spoken words, processing auditory information into information in their brain. APD is not a hearing problem, it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder. Personally, APD impacts my ability to transform auditory information such as speech into information in my brain, and to help with this I have a few ability aid programs that provide good speech-to-text transcription so I can read what someone is saying rather than struggling to process the information audibly. Due to this, I did not understand up until this point the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’.

So, my understanding of the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ is that to hear means to receive auditory information and understand it, and to listen means to receive auditory information, understand it, and care about it’s content. I’ve learnt that for most people this happens almost subconsciously I think? If they are hearing someone speak but they don’t ‘care’ about what they are saying, then they are just hearing, not listening, and people can do this automatically? Either that or I think it may be that most people can choose whether or not they fully understand and comprehend what someone is saying based on if they ‘care’ about the content. Or maybe it’s about remembering what someone is saying, and that is listening versus hearing.

I still don’t feel like I fully understand this, but I don’t know if I am going to be able to as I don’t experience ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ like most other people do. Discussing this and investigating this has helped me understand my relationship with APD a bit better, and I would really like to understand all of this more, it’s very interesting and is proving helpful to me understanding myself.

I am not certain on what to do for my project yet, but I think I am going to use this as at least a starting point. Next week I hope to get some research and experimentation done in response to this.

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