In 2021 I conducted a research: it was called “Resonate!” and it concerned the relationship between active listening and creative imagination. Twelve artists working in different creative fields participated: each of them did an individual active listening exercise and was then interviewed afterwards.
The exercise consisted in listening to the environment and simultaneously transmitting its vibrations through physical movement as they flowed in. Movements could be any sort of dance, singing, playing an instrument, drawing, writing or just simply moving their body.
The exercise was done by listening through headphones attached to several microphones, which intensified the acoustic perception. While listening, I recommended them to shift the focus and slowly expand the attention from the center, as if imagining circling ripples on the water surface – this is the method that Pauline Oliveros developed in her “Sonic Meditation”.
When interviewed, the participants shared their observations and their re-discovery of perception. In one of the interviews, the artist and musician Diane Barbé told me that her notion of breathing is that it connects the environment and our body: “I was moving along with the breath, so there is definitely an element of the breath that expands the reach of sounds as well as my awareness.”
The artists pointed out personal specific observations, however many of them shared similar feelings: the most common one was how the exercise helped develop an empathy with the environment.