Listening as Activism – Gareth Cutter


A scribbly page saying Listening as a kind of activism with a sort of soundwave form drawn over the top

‘Dwell Time‘ is a 15 minute electronic composition that sits somewhere between a podcast and minimal techno about listening, made in response to the question, “Can listening be a form of activism?”, one of our regular questions posed during our residency at Drake Music in July.

July’s track, ‘An Ear In The Forest’, was my first attempt at translating this question into music. At the same time, my reading and research about listening as activism was coming together as a blog. At this moment in time, in the history of the world and its politics and social upheavals, I’m caught between wanting to be abstract and imagine new worlds, and wanting to be plain-speaking about the present. I wondered whether these things could merge somehow. So the original song was taken apart, diced into fragments, and re-arranged as the sonic compliment to the blog.

I tested out performing this over Zoom to the other AiRs and Daryl and Carien at Drake Music during a Zoom meeting in August, and came face-to-face with the challenges of controlling an Ableton session live in the moment, the balancing act between musician and project manager (remember to click this button at this time and keep an eye on that loop while fading things out slowly in 2 minutes shit I forgot that thing over there and it’s already been 7 minutes). It was hectic and challenging enough to break out into a sweat, without leaving my chair! But it’s been an invaluable step in my path towards my final project, and testing new forms for my music and writing. And it’s been a chance to reflect on the powerful potential of listening.




Dwell Time_ Can Listening Be A Form Of Activism


The Artist in Residence initiative is part of DM Collective, a programme of creative and professional development for Disabled artists at all stages of their career. It is funded by The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

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