University of Toronto

Lynne Alexandrova is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, with interests in systems and ecological thinking, epistemology, technoscience, and communication. She is coauthor of a family history book, co-editor of two proceedings volumes, and has presented her multidisciplinary research at conferences domestically and internationally.

The Will to Thrive: Hetero-sensorial Mobility & Musical Dis-impairment

Hetero-sensoriality, as recruited for a broader, ongoing research project, covers sensory addition and substitution. The former is standardly exemplified by synaesthesia, whereby one sense triggers the activation of another through association (similar to how commercials ‘create needs’). The latter, alternatively labelled ‘trans-’ or ‘cross-sensoriality,’ can be thought of as a remedial strategy, whereby one or more senses can take on the work of another. Of particular interest for the current paper are the philosophical dimensions of hetero-sensoriality of the second type, when summoned by hearing impairment. An inquiry is conducted into possibilities of (non)technological circumvention of the lack of auditory access to music for the regaining of valuable emotional and, perhaps more ambitiously, communal experience.

The scientists from Ryerson’s SMART Lab translate music-to-be-heard into music-to-be-felt (along the back of the body). They aim to incorporate deaf or hard of hearing people into the experiential spaces of music. Evelyn Glennie, a ‘profoundly deaf’ percussionist, takes vibrotactile ‘hearing’ to a whole new level. She recreates tactility, soaking up sound waves (within and beyond the auditory spectrum) with her entire body, sharing her broadened experience with her audiences. Having earned international acclaim as a musician, she furthermore takes on the mission to teach humanity to listen to Self, Other, Nature.

The study evaluates the varying human ‘situatednesses’ above and, adapting Code’s ‘ecological thinking model,’ analyses the constitution of identity/agency in terms of multilevel ecosystemic interaction, where disability can be not merely circumvented by technological ingenuity but reversed into (emergent) ability through a resilient, creative will to thrive.