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John Kannenberg is an artist, researcher, teacher, performer, storyteller, and writer.
He is also Director & Chief Curator of The Museum of Portable Sound.

Hearing Enlightenment

Hearing Enlightenment

Hearing Enlightenment: A Sound Map of the Enlightenment Galleries at the British Museum is a book and album project published by Museum of Portable Sound Press that documents a day-long public performance and recording project which resulted in a sound piece that collects and presents the sonic environment of the Enlightenment Galleries in a manner reminiscent of the collection and display practices developed by the world's earliest museums during the Enlightenment era.

The seven hour performance involved sitting for exactly one hour in each of the seven different topical areas of the Enlightenment Galleries. While present in each of the galleries, I made sound recordings; I also made visual sketches of sounds I heard, and read a different book in each of the seven areas.

Once collected, each one-hour recording was time-compressed (without affecting its pitch) to an arbitrary length of seven minutes, producing a glitchy 49-minute sound piece. This intentional manipulation serves to wipe out the majority of the sounds collected, leaving only faint traces of echoes – which acts as a metaphor for the colonialist Enlightenment era's attempts to 'collect and display the world' in early museums, which inevitably missed more than they included, and silenced more voices than they made heard.

A 30-page full-colour printed book documents the performance, including the original mapped plan for the project along with the drawings produced during the performance, as well as all the photographs I took during the project. 

Get digital album | Get printed book + digital album

The Museum of Portable Sound

The Museum of Portable Sound