Infinite Ear : Infinite Ear (2019)

After 6 years of workshops, talks and exhibitions, Infinite Ear travels to Spain for an exhibition at CentroCentro, Madrid, where it invites us to rethink normative notions of hearing. 1

Infinite Ear is an exhibition to be heard in multiple ways. Conceived in collaboration with deaf and hard of hearing people, the project began in 2013 when Council gathered together a group of artists and scientists in a school for deaf children, around the question: what if deafness was considered an ability or expertise in hearing?

Hearing is usually understood as the ability to perceive vibrations through the ear. Hearing loss is diagnosed when a person is unable to hear a whisper in at least one ear. Hearing loss currently affects about 1.1 billion people, almost half a million of whom are considered ‘disabled’. Many scientific studies point to the intellectual, creative, and cultural benefits of Deaf-gain, recognising different perceptions of sound as vital to human diversity. So what if these sensory and cognitive differences were reframed as abilities?

The works presented in Infinite Ear invite us to expand our notion of hearing, giving the senses of touch, vision, imagination, and audition equal importance. You will feel sound differently in Tarek Atoui’s series of instruments 2 and in the film installations by Alison O’Daniel 3 4; you will read testimonies of hearing transformation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Vinciane Despret, Mara Mills, Louise Stern, and Sophie Woolley; and perhaps you will encounter a mediator from A (mis)reader’s Guide to Listening who will propose a journey across the exhibition through the sensorial practices by Lendl Barcelos, Valentina Desideri, Myriam Lefkowitz and Catalina Insignares. 5 6

Learning from a variety of physical and creative abilities means accepting that each one of us perceives a world from which a part is missing. As in Robert Ashley’s film Title Withdrawn 7 , Infinite Ear considers these missing parts as spaces left to the imagination. Can we try to suspend the desire for ‘full understanding’ and privilege the work of our imagination and our senses? Beyond the ‘able-bodied’ and the ‘disabled,’ there are thousands of capacities, and each of them is a specific ecosystem of senses. We dreamed of an exhibition where each hearing ability would be honoured.

Welcome to Infinite Ear. 8

Infinite Ear is an exhibition by Council


  • Robert Ashley
  • Tarek Atoui
  • Lendl Barcelos
  • Catalina Insignares
  • Valentina Desideri
  • Myriam Lefkowitz
  • Mattin
  • Alison O'Daniel


  • Instruments and performances
  • conceived by
  • Tarek Atoui
  • with
  • Julia Alsarraf
  • Daniel Araya
  • Johannes Goebel
  • Kvadrat
  • Jeff Lubow
  • Thierry Madiot
  • Perrin Meyer
  • Greg Niemeyer
  • Quartet Mats Lindström
  • Espen Sommer Eide
  • Igor Porte
  • Léo Maurel
  • Vincent Martial


  • Collective and individual sensorial exercises collected by
  • Lendl Barcelos
  • Valentina Desideri
  • Myriam Lefkowitz
    in collaboration with
  • Catalina Insignares


  • Films and installation by
  • Alison O'Daniel


  • A film by
  • Robert Ashley


  • texts by
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Vinciane Despret
  • Mara Mills
  • Louise Stern
  • Sophie Woolley

Infinite Ear
Madrid, Spain
24 Oct 2019 – 12 Jan 2020

The exhibition in Madrid is hosted by CentroCentro upon invitation of artistic director Soledad Gutierrez and produced by Tevi de la Torre.


  • CNAP
  • Galerie Chantal Crousel
  • Kurimanzutto Gallery
  • Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
  • Mimi Johnson

    Top image: Alison O'Daniel, Nyke and the New York Kite Enthusiasts in Santa Monica #2, 2018, installation view at CentroCentro All ph. credits Lukas Michalak for CentroCentro
1. A booklet in Spanish and English was produced for the exhibition. You can download it here.
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2. Following a research initiated in 2013, Tarek Atoui’s WITHIN is a collection of instruments which expand notions of hearing beyond the aural by focusing on its tactile and visual dimension. The design of the instruments and their playability are the result of workshops and residencies in which Atoui worked with Deaf and hearing people, acoustic instrument makers, speaker designers, software engineers, and composers. Through collaboration the piece challenges the way sound and its space can be perceived. The exhibition in Madrid features a selection of older and new instruments - including Organ WITHIN, created by Léo Maurel and Vincent Martial.
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3. 'The Tuba Thieves' by Alison O'Daniel is a slowly unfolding feature-length film presented in fragments since 2013. The initial idea came after learning about a series of Tuba robberies from schools in LA - what would a school marching band feel like after taking out that very low sound? It features stories directly referencing deaf and hard of hearing people’s experiences with sound, which include hypersensitivity toward social norms, variations around volume, heightening of other senses, invention of languages, delays in comprehension, frustration, disorientation, humour, and misinterpretation.
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4. Alison O'Daniel's installation 'New Listeners' (2018), especially created for Infinite Ear, features film installation, sculptures and textile objects. In O'Daniel's practice sculptures and quilts are complementary to the artist's films, ever isolated from the space they are exhibited. Quilts, usually used to soften the sound, become visual scores throughout the exhibition. Small copper-coated ears also punctuate the space and are cast on O'Daniel's audiologist patients' ears.
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5. The Sound Massage Table, part of WITHIN by Tarek Atoui and created by Thierry Madiot, is a synthesis of Madiot's twenty years work with sound massage techniques and practices to expand our corporeal experience of sound. It can be used therapeutically, recreationally, artistically or pedagogically and for Infinite Ear the mediators include it in their journey thorugh the exhibition.
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6. A (mis)reader's Guide to Listening is an experimental mediation for visitors of the exhibition, a non-scripted collection of artistic, therapeutic, musical, conceptual, esoteric, and poetic practices. Placed at the intersection of different fields of knowledge and practices, A (mis)reader’s Guide to Listening reveals how the visitor’s bodies and concerns participates in the interpretation of a work, and proposes other ways of sensing that may expand the work’s interpretation within and beyond the exhibition space.
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7. Title Withdrawn is a 1976 film based on the music of his piece Automatic Writing. Ashley used his own involuntary speech that results from his mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome as one of the voices in the music. The second voice is a French translation of his ideas. Ashley was intrigued by his involuntary speech, and the idea of composing music that was unconscious. His interest in the use of voice and words went beyond their explicit denotation, believing their rhythm and inflection could convey meaning even if one does not understand the actual phonemes.It features David Peterson and Donald Renzulli from the California School of the Deaf signing the involuntary speech heard in Automatic Writing. You can watch the film on UBUweb (it starts at 45:00).
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8. Infinite Ear (2019), video courtesy of CentroCentro
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