Sensitive Sounds

Elif Öner & Evrim Kavcar

Sensitive Sounds: A  polyphonic, multiform, participatory  art work that traces the subjective,  social and cultural layers of sound,  carried out collaboratively by Elif Öner and Evrim Kavcar since February 2018.

Sensitive Sounds slowly came into existence at a challenging period around 2018, during our private conversations with each other. At that time in Turkey, under a climate of heavy censorship and repression, our attempts to reclaim our basic rights were met by violence. Many of our friends were migrating to Europe.  At such a time period that rendered us mute on a personal and social level, an interpersonal dialogue was born between us out of a need to connect and to mend what was broken personally, socially and ecologically. We were talking about different faces of violence in the world in general.   In the midst of political and economic crises, we were becoming more and more silent. We felt that what was at stake was our inner voice. We could observe that losing touch with our inner voice us with less care and more aggression.

Where carelessness ruled, it was difficult for the “sensitive” to survive.  In a world that was becoming insensitive, we chose to direct our attention to sounds that were not dominant; sounds that either escaped our attention or were deemed unimportant. We had feelings towards these sounds. In a world dominated by sight and speed, these sounds triggered memories of specific smells, tastes or touch. 

With a childish curiosity, we started to re-listen to our surroundings, to think about sounds that are rooted in our memory, and we started to describe these sounds to each other. Finally, we ended up writing down descriptions of specific sounds. With a curiosity regarding the nature of collective memory, we opened up this process for participation. Our need to step out of the closed circle of the art scene led us to reaching out to people from different professions. Together we made a series of public talks on the subject of “sound”.  Last year, a selection of  “sensitive sound descriptions” turned into an artists’ book A Dictionary of Sensitive Sounds was published.

Sensitive Sounds presently continues in various forms such as performance, video, public programs and participatory projects and collaborations, where we keep on tracing the subjective, social and cultural layers of sound.


A Dictionary of Sensitive Sounds/ book by Elif Öner & Evrim Kavcar

“Within our artistic practice, but outside of language, somewhere  without any words. In an effort to designate with words that which cannot be spoken, in pursuit of the layers of sound. Sensitive  descriptions of sounds, in-between sounds, sounds that we en counter in our daily life, sounds that we point at with words yet  the sounds that resist being worded. Not sounds that overpower,  but the sounds that escape our attention. Sounds that belong to  different bodies. Animals, plants, microcosms within and outside of us… Not the sounds that are imposed on us, but the sounds that we pay no attention to. A sound transports us to different  experiences, different times and places. That is because we have  a problem with linearity. We have trouble listening to one another. We don’t want to call it pitter patter and brush it off. We  don’t want to generalize. We are on the side of the sensitive. As  sounds accumulate, a fraction of the collective memory becomes  apparent. Both similarities and differences are revealed. Does a  dictionary present opportunities to listen to them? Can it invigorate both the memory and the relationship with the present?  Description as a form of art, description as an expression of witnessing. Sound is both a supply and an emotional state. Sound is  both itself and its own metaphor. It is the trace of the untamed  within a tame practice of life. The sound heard inside the mind,  that sound… Is the sound I hear the same as the one they do?”

The entries that constitute A Dictionary of Sensitive Sounds are compiled from the  20 in-person and online interviews held with guest speakers from varying fields  of expertise, as part of the “Dear Reader” series. The numbering system at the end  of each entry indicates which interview the respective statement is quoted from. 

0 Elif Öner, Evrim Kavcar, November 28, 2020, Daire Sanat / Çevrimiçi.

1 Nevzat Kaya/German and Comparative Literature Scholar, November 28, 2020,  Daire Sanat / Çevrimiçi. 

2 Dr. Özkan Kaan Karadağ /Public&Occupational Health and Public Administration  Specialist , April 25, 2019, Pasaj Istanbul. 

3 Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ayşe Devrim Başterzi/Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist, December  5, 2019, Kasa Gallery. 

4 Kerem Dündar, M.D. Specialist/Neuroscientist, December 11, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

5 Tolga Tüzün/Composer-Sound Designer, April 19, 2019, Pasaj Istanbul.

6 Nermin Saybaşılı/Art Historian, December 25, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

7 Erdoğan Özmen/Psychiatrist, December 25, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

8 Vahit Tuna/Artist, December 13, 2019, Kasa Gallery. 

9 Alper Maral/Composer-Musicologist, December 13, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

10 Eda Sezgin/Editor-Author, April 26, 2019, Pasaj Istanbul. 

11 Murat Uyurkulak/Author, December 11, 2019, Kasa Gallery. 

12 Gayem Köprücü/Speech-Language Pathologist, April 20, 2019, Pasaj Istanbul.

13 Selçuk Artut/Artist, December 5, 2019, Kasa Gallery. 

14 Cevdet Erek/Sound Maker-Artist-Academician, December 5, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

15 Süleyman Polat/Noise Control and Occupational Safety Specialist, May 2, 2019,  Pasaj Istanbul/Çevrimiçi. 

16 Dr. Gülin Güneri, M.D./Clinical Psychologist, April 19, 2019, Pasaj Istanbul.

17 Sinan Bökesoy/Composer, May 3, 2019, Prinkipo Island (the Princes’ Islands)

18 Zeynep Sayın /Image Theorist, December 13, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

19 İlker Küçükparlak /Psychiatrist, November 21, 2020, “The Moods of Sounds”,  Daire Sanat / Çevrimiçi. 

20 Oğuz Öner/Sound Researcher-Sound Designer, December 13, 2019, Kasa Gallery.

The Other (ongoing series)
Dear Reader
Open For Your Participation
Silent Migration
You Already Know Half of The Story
Futile Effort
Again and Again
Out of Frame
In to In
Historical Future Museum
True Copy Of The Original (ongoing series)