Ilari Valbonesi: The Paradigm of Listening

dec. 6th 2010, at 19:00  city art museum Ljubljana
lecture and talk
Ilari Valbonesi, Art critic and independent curator

listen (mp3, 1.10.47/65MB)   ConaCast

The Paradigm of Listening
(Sound, Voice, Body, Audience, Radio Art).

Sound is attractive. It catches the ear, enchants, disturbs, and scares. But it is also imperative. Sound is both a means and an end. The decisive interest devoted to the “strange” reflexivity of sound became a paradoxical instance of art, music and philosophy in the twentieth century. Further, it has encouraged the emergence of a genuine “paradigm of listening” from which I take steps to trace the event of a conceptual category of plastic art so called Sound Art : Art of Sound, that reflecting on itself, defines its own historical context.

Sound hits us where our disposition is already a move towards the “given” sound, for that hearing which accords and affords us whatever there really is to hear. Which means there is an “eventual” sound, which happens in-between me and the things in-between me and others: Sound originates “elsewhere” even though we are implicated. The sound of the voice is also erotic. It’s like an intercourse in between own and alien. It’s magnetic and it orients us in space, it defines boundaries and mixes the real and the imagined. We can experience the public nature of the audience, the spatiality of sound in its symbolic occurrences in buildings that accommodate the aesthetic experience of sound: the theatre, concert hall, the square from the gallery, and the auditorium of the woods. But this is not the proper meaning of sound in space, nor qualifies its access to a space. Sound is more of a timeless space. The body itself is an instrument that records its environment while reconfiguring existing environments. In 2004 I coined the phrase ‘Acusmatic ethics’ to describe the interspecific character of sound and its synthetic temporality. If we understand that listening to something is to record it, recording itself is also a kind of ‘answering’ behavior. Obviously, radio, tapes, samplers are able to isolate, alter and focus the processes of distribution and use of sound. But in this direction, “synthetic” claims is more of a “critique” of instruments and traditional research, including electronic, plastic art that belongs to music “educated” and that “popular” and doesn’t seem to characterize a specific field. This brought me to think of Radio as ethical space of sound and special environment of trading cultures and languages of contemporary art.

Short BIO Ilari Valbonesi (Rome, 1968).
Art critic and independent curator of art exhibitions, web projects and intermedia events. Extensive experience in Radio and Television Production. Freelance Editor for ARTE E CRITICA and other magazines. 1997, Graduated in Philosophy on “Responsive Phenomenology” through the thought of B. Waldenfels, Università “La Sapienza”, Rome. 1995-1997, Internship at the Graduierten-Kolleg of “Ruhr-Universität” Bochum, Germany. 2001-2002, Master Degree in Political Science on Human Rights, “Libera Università degli Studi San Pio V”, Rome. 2002-2003, Master Degree in Political Science on Gender Policies, “Università degli Studi Roma Tre”, Rome. 2003, Internship at Italian Commission for Equal Opportunities at the Cabinet. 2002-2004, IT Consultant at Ministry of Finance for HR and Diversity Management. 2007-2010 Director of RAM LIVE, one of the first internet radio stations to discuss the field in-between visual Arts, Music and Sound research within ethical perspectives. 2010, Chief Curator of ROMA. RADIO. ART. FAIR the first web radio launched by Roma the Road to Contemporary Art with the aim of networking and experimentation.


  1. “Ilari Valbonesi: The Paradigm of Listening
    Radio As An Arts Space” was in fact a splendid blog, cannot wait to
    look over even more of your posts. Time to squander a bit of time on the
    net haha. Thanks for your time ,Vernita

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