Sonia Leber and David Chesworth
What Listening Knows

17 July – 5 September 2021

venue: Messums Wiltshire

Exhibition goes live at 10am on 17 July
For advance information and a collector’s preview please register interest:


“Sonia Leber & David Chesworth are cultural investigators, landing lightly in foreign territory, weighed down only with a mixed bag of pre-entry research, a video camera, some sound equipment and a couple of laptops. The work they are going to make is out there waiting; images and events to be re-interpreted, re-framed, recorded and edited.” Fiona Gruber

What Listening Knows is an immersive 3-channel audio and video installation by Australian artists Sonia Leber & David Chesworth, commissioned for our second Moving Image exhibition at Messums Wiltshire. Currently in development, the research and filming was undertaken here in Wiltshire in the Summer of 2021, when Sonia and David were Messums’­­ first artists-in-residence. The resulting video uses unique Wiltshire environments as sites to explore the act of listening.

What Listening Knows creatively interrogates different concepts around the act of listening, particularly the concept of ‘the microphone’s gaze’, which shifts the idea of the ocular gaze, or camera gaze, into an acoustic dimension:

The project is built up around three individual performers acting as ‘field recordists’ in the landscape, trailing through cornfields, traversing unfathomable henges and earthworks, and scanning anthills and ancient forests. Each performer, armed with microphones and headphones, was prompted to physically interrogate the landscape from non-typical perspectives, activating their listening to find new ways to capture the acoustic forces of the environment.

Following these acoustic cues, we have been developing a camera style detached from its ocular-centric perspective, imbued with an acoustic consciousness, at times tipping and rotating the landscape, levitating rocky masses, and trailing growths in the forest from both macro and micro perspectives.

Sonia and David’s work experiments with how humans reframe and manipulate their experience of the world. They are particularly interested in to how the ‘act of listening’ can inform us in a very different way to visual perception and their work investigates this disconnect.


Top image: Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Trailer for What Listening Knows ‘Trio Anthills’ 36s