The School of Wild Listening is a platform for the discussion and dissemination of ecological sound art and music. In our current age of ecological disconnection, listening provides a means to explore and cultivate a deeper connection to the world around us.
This listening provides a knowledge for initiating cultural change and allows us to pro-actively engage with the biodiversity and climate crisis conversation.
The School of Wild Listening programme includes listening group sessions and workshops with guest artists, performances, soundwalks and more.
As part of the Wild Mind in Fenit the School of Wild Listening presents a listening group with the School of Wild Listening director, composer Robert Coleman and local artist Chris Steenson. This will be an open conversation which will include an introduction to the act of ecological listening, and feature field recordings and soundscape compositions.
Through recent works On Chorus and Connemara Landscape Chris will discuss themes of collective listening and the contemporary environment. This will be complemented by Robert’s recent research from the temperate rainforest at the Vale of Clara and a new developing wood in the Belfast Hills which will serve as an introduction to bird language.
Christopher Steenson is an artist from Befast but now residing in Kerry. With a background in psychology and the sonic environment, his work uses sound, analogue photography and writing to forge ways of ‘listening to the future’.
Drawing upon the open methodologies of John Cage, and the idea of ‘correspondences’ proposed by anthropologist Tim Ingold, Steenson’s sound-based artworks attempt to operate as a collaborative process, emerging as a field of potentialities between listeners and (speculative) environments. Often taking the form of installations, public interventions and broadcasts, these artworks use the conventions of radio and transmission-based infrastructure to locate audiences within a ‘dreamtime’ – a space in which pasts, presents, and futures are negotiated on a continuum.
Recent artworks, such as Soft Rains Will Come (2022), eschew the idea of a fixed artwork, by broadcasting live within the installation space; operating as an ever-changing set of relations, similar to a weather system. This work seeks to inhabit an imaginary landscape, where ideas of success and failure are erased; life continues and adapts. On Chorus (2020) used the PA system infrastructure of Ireland’s national train service to broadcast the sounds of the spring dawn chorus, recorded during the first Covid-19 lockdown, across Ireland. This artwork sought to encourage actions of collective listening, as a way of bringing people together during times of physical distancing, whilst also imagining new architectures of cohabitation between human and non-human species.
Composer Robert Coleman’s current work draws from numerous fields such as soundscape studies, site-specific art, field recording, and community and participatory arts. In 2019 he completed his Masters studies at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague with Yannis Kyriakides and Diderik Wagenaar and having also previously studied architecture his work often features spatial concepts and metaphors as frameworks for the composition process. He is currently a PhD student at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast focusing on Ecological Sound Art.
He has been commissioned by Crash Ensemble and New Music Dublin, the National Concert Hall Dublin, Irish National Opera, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Tallaght Community Arts, violinist Larissa O’Grady and others.
Highly active in artistic direction he is a founding member and performer with Dublin based experimental music group Kirkos and in 2023 he founded the School of Wild Listening, a platform for the discussion and dissemination of ecological sound art. Its aim is to promote an understanding of the living world and the current challenges we face through open and accessible listening and creative sound events.