Une généalogie des grandes oreilles is the result of an iconographic research conducted by artist Lauren Tortil over the past three years on what she calls “Big Ears”: these military surveillance devices that call upon mediated listening – an increased listening through a mediator, such as a tool, an instrument, an architecture, a system, etc.—and that the modern man has relentlessly improved with the purpose of anticipating potential dangers.
This genealogy, at first glance technical, reaches beyond the principle of lineage. In 460 images across 88 iconographic plates, the artist articulates her thoughts about sound through material from various registers: paintings, film extracts, technical drawings, photographic archives, etc.
The reading is accompanied by an inserted booklet comprising three unpublished texts and captioned pictures annotated by the artist. Exhausting, recontextualizing and shifting its subject beyond the initial military territory, this book reminds us—like Sound Studies—that the figure of a man on the lookout and listening practices are deeply intra-connected to politics, science, medicine and art.
Born 1986 in La Roche-sur-Yon (France), Lauren Tortil lives and works in Paris.