the-possible-impossible-thing-of-sound: A Dialogue between Dr. Salomé Voegelin & Juliet Palmer

There possibly is impossible impossibility -things that are really impossible. I felt there was another bit -and that’s where we get to the possible impossible thing of sound- where things are possible but they appear impossible because they don’t fit into our language, in our theme of thinking, or hearing, or listening. We cannot see them, we just cannot grasp them because of our physiological, ideological, cultural, political imitations; or because we sometimes do not want to see them, we do not want to deal with them. But they are still possibilities. For me that becomes exciting because we can politically articulate impossibility in a much more demanding way. We can say, in relation to feminism, ‘this is a possible impossibility’ and, therefore, we can bring it to actuality.

-Salomé Voegelin, in dialogue with Juliet Palmer


Coined by scholar Dr. Salomé Voeglin, the-possible-impossible-thing-of-sound installation series investigates real and imagined sounds beyond the hearing spectrum. Beginning in the Fall of 2017 and ending in Fall of 2018, the series encapsulates sound installations that bring awareness to ‘possibly impossible’ sounds around us. Together in conversation, Dr. Salomé Voeglin and Juliet Palmer discuss the inspirations and theories that lay the foundation for their contributions to the series: Dr. Voegelin’s artist talk Listening Beyond and Palmer’s multimedia performance/installation commission, Inside Us.


Special thanks to New Music Curator/Director and VOICE OVER mind Choir Director, DB Boyko.



New Zealand-Canadian composer Juliet Palmer is known as a “post-modernist with a conscience” (The Listener) whose work “crosses so many genres as to be in a category of its own” (Toronto Star). Juliet is the artistic director of Urbanvessel, a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Recent works: Invicta, with text by Blackfoot Pikani spoken word artist Zaccheus Jackson (NYO Canada); Quarry for soprano Sarah Albu and Continuum (Touching Ground Festival); The Man Who Married Himself with librettist Anna Chatterton and choreographer Hari Krishnan (Toronto Masque Theatre); Vermillion Songs for tenor Simon O’Neill and NZTrio; Sweat, a cappella opera with writer Anna Chatterton (Bicycle Opera tour; and Center for Contemporary Opera, New York); Boots, an interactive boudoir opera (Opera Peepshow); and Singing River, a site-specific performance at the Wonscotonach/Don River (Aanmitaagzi, Native Earth and Pan Am Path). Upcoming: burl (NZFestival), Morse (mezzo Marie-Annick Béliveau & Instruments of Happiness), and a new work for the Detroit Symphony. Juliet is currently Composer-in-Residence at Sunnybrook Research Institute, a position funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

Dr. Salomé Voegelin is an artist and writer engaged in listening as a socio-political practice of sound. She is the author of Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, Continuum, NY, 2010, which has achieved national and international recognition for offering ‘a refreshing departure from the many surveys of sound art’ (Michael McCrea, Sound Art, June 2010) and for ‘making a powerful case for preserving the “immersive complexity” of auditory experience against a critical language, that […], is always guided by the imperatives of the visual’ (Montgomery, The Wire, August 2010). Her second book Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound, was published by Bloomsbury in June 2014. It adapts and develops possible world theory in relation to sound to produce a meeting of the semantic and the phenomenological at the place of listening. David Rothenberg, writing in The Wire (370, December 2014), suggests it ‘might change the way you listen, and increase the depth of your questioning and wondering.‘ and Marcel Cobussen, calls it a ‘provocative and challenging endeavor to take this necessary discussion to a high scholarly level without losing the connection with the art works themselves.’ (Journal of Sonic Studies, Her most recent publication Colloquium: Sound Art – Music, Zero Books, Winchester, 2016, co-edited with Thomas Gardner, makes the relationship between sound art and music colloquial, spoken and practised rather than a matter of disciplinary boundaries.