The Secret Theatre Revisited: Eavesdropping on Locative Media Performances

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With the proliferation of the iPod and related audio mobile technologies in our daily experiences, Shuhei Hosokawa’s “The Walkman Effect” (1984) gains new significance. While exploring the locative aspects of these technologies for media art, I elaborate on Hosokawa’s idea of a “secret theatre” by paralleling it to some compelling concepts in audio (culture) studies, such as Michael Bull’s “auditized looking,” Elisabeth Weis’ “écouterism,” Denis Hollier/Jean Paul Sartre’s “auditory gaze,” and Steven Connor’s “modern auditory I.” As case studies, I focus on three performative audio walks that all took place in train stations around 2012-2013: Janet Cardiff’s Alter Bahnhof, Dries Verhoeven’s Niemandsland, and Judith Hoffland’s Like Me. Each in their own right reconfigures the urban experience by means of locative features and interactive relations with their environments. These art works help to see Hosokawa’s “secret theatre” in a new light of highly individualized yet relational aesthetic experiences that open our ears and eyes to an outside social context and reality rather than shut them off.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sonic Studies
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 14-Dec-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • locative media
  • ipod culture
  • Janet Cardiff
  • Dries Verhoeven
  • Judith Hoffland
  • Shuhei Hosokawa
  • Walkman effect
  • auditory culture

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