My research focuses on experiences of hearing and listening as a means toward ephemeral conceptions of knowledge and belief. This work brings together terms I’ve named as “audibility” and “unseeing” as epistemological paths that move both within and outside the familiar disclosures of language and images. The audible is distinct from the sonic in that it opens the question of one’s relationship to his or her world. My work traces the literature of memory, sense, language and image relations through a radical empiricist and process approach, and through experiential filmmakers such as Terrence Malick. It finds relevance in problems of epistemology, politics and power structures in daily life and in the praxis of designing worlds of film, computer games, mixed media and sound art.
Through this work, I aim to draw philosophical questions and creative approaches away from objects and events in their systemic regard toward experiences of audibilityparticular to an experiential engagement—one that defies any categorical “terminus.” To emphasize the objectivity of sound is to place it within scientific patterns and discourse; to emphasize the audible is to bring it back to the ineffable human questioning within fields of hearing and listening. In my research, I do not explore answers; I explore what brings people to certain conditions of questioning. I do not wish to close what sound is; I wish to open what hearing may bring. Here we are in explorations of narrativity, identity, agency, belief—all faculties of uncertainty that thrive in the arts of cinema, literature and communication. It gives rise to new speculations on allegory and metaphor, moving into fields as diverse as psychoanalytical theory, normativity, cultural and gender stereotypes and power relations.
Below is a list of recent publications and conference appearances. Please see my curriculum vitae for additional works and appearances, as well as guest lectures, workshops and collaborative teaching.
“By conceiving of fidelity as an aural quality, James Batcho’s interpretation of Fernando’s text in the afterword makes a profound note of love less as an object of sight than a voice in the darkness, for to see is to capture and control, whereas to make out what one hears in the dark is to interpret or read in blind faith.”
“[T]he book presents a method that gets us to think about sound spatially, both in terms of the environment of the story world and the geography of the production workflow, inviting us to continuously envision the entirety of the project and the world it creates while attending to the details required of any given stage. … You won’t find a more user-friendly guide for anyone getting started in the world of sound production for audiovisual storytelling.”
– Dr. Randolph Jordan (back cover text for Sound for Independent Audiovisual Storytelling)
I have completed one book, a textbook on sound design titled Sound for Independent Audiovisual Storytelling (2013, Sanshin). More recently I wrote the afterword for Jeremy Fernando’s book On Fidelity: or will you still love me tomorrow… (2014, Atropos). As of June, 2017 I have completed a draft of my book Terrence Malick’s Unseeing Cinema, which I am currently querying to publishers. Other recent published academic works include:
Batcho, J. (2017). New understandings in hearing. In The New Soundtrack (7)1.
Batcho, J. (2014). The sonic lifeworld: A phenomenological exploration of the imaginative potential of animation sound. In Journal of Sonic Studies (6)1.
Batcho, J. D. (2012). Revisiting the Howard Dean Scream: Sound exclusivity in broadcast news. In Media Culture & Society (34)8.
And I’ve more recently had a new peer-reviewed essay accepted for publication in The New Soundtrack by Edinburgh University Press titled “New Understandings in Hearing,” which is about cinematic audibility.
Recent Conference Presentations
“Deep Listenings, Deeper Soundings: On Writing Nature’s Expressions.” Poetry, Philosophy, Politics: On Art & Education. EGS, Tembusu College, Singapore. (Paper presentation, April 2017).
“Hearing is an Event of Possible Understanding”. Sound Studies: Mapping the Field, 2nd European Sound Studies Association (ESSA) Conference. University of Copenhagen, Denmark. (Panel member, paper presentation, June 2014).
“The Audibility of the Cave”. Contemporary Dialogues with Ancient Thought, 10th Annual De Philosophia Conference. University of Ottawa. (Paper presentation, April 2014).
“The Sonic Lifeworld: A Phenomenological Exploration of the Imaginative Potential of Animation Sound”. Transcultural Imaginaries: Making New, Making Strange conference. Singapore. (Panel member & paper presentation, April 2013).