This is an abstract from the Beyond Listening symposium program.

Towards Ecological Improvisation: Listening with the Body to Bridge Divisions

Henry McPherson

Friday 24 November


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This participatory workshop will explore integrated sound and movement improvisation practice and pedagogy, to foster interoceptive and proprioceptive awareness, encouraging the bridging connection with the more-than-human. Improvisation is a performance practice which heightens awareness of connection with the surrounding environment, through the concerted engagement with the unfolding dynamics of the here and now. The reiterative bringing of attention to the present moment, combined with a state of creative reciprocity and presence which maintains openness to emergences (McPherson, 2022), suggests improvisation as a viable vehicle for doing ecology, where ecology includes “a host of awareness practices which foreground the human-environment connection, and the ways in which thoughts, actions and practices affect our understanding of that connection” (Sarco-Thomas, 2010, xix). Led by artist-researcher Dr. Henry McPherson, participants will be guided through a series of open performance scores and epistemological propositions to foster creativity, connection, and identification with the non-human ‘other’. Participants will explore the tuning of the body to its own materiality, to its sensuous reciprocal exchange with the more-than-human environment, and to its pragmatic status as part of the “stuff of the world” (Alaimo, 2017). The goal of this practising is to ground the aspirational epistemology of posthumanism in the body’s lived experience, equipping specialists and non-specialists alike with tools to sense and feel connectivity beyond conventional anthropocentric divisions, towards radical and urgent empathic engagement with the more-than-human world.


Dr Henry McPherson is a musician, interdisciplinary artist, and researcher. He works across composition, improvisation, performance, practice-research, and teaching. His creative portfolio includes sound and music for concert, stage, and broadcast, site-specific pieces and gallery installation, experimental improvisation performance in sound and movement, and collaborative intermedia and hybrid-digital art pieces. His work has been shown internationally across diverse settings – from concert halls to galleries, from bathrooms to dance studios, from parks and warehouses to cafes, virtual halls and radio. His current creative interests lie in the intersections of improvisation performance and ecology, knowledge exchange and collaboration with the more-than-human, integrated sound and movement practices, and illustrated notation. He lives in East Lancashire and works between Manchester and Leeds.

Budapest, 2023