Exploring attention through technologically-mediated musical improvisation: An enactive-ecological perspective

Lauren Hayes, Juan M. Loaiza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we consider attention from an enactive-ecological perspective in which the organism-with-environment interdependencies that emerge in the process of living are fundamental and necessary for understanding cognition (Thompson 2010). While technological advances have often provided an impetus for empirical studies of attention, we propose, moreover, that such developments have enabled the facilitation of new highly participatory forms of musicking. In these types of technologically-mediated musical interactions, there is fertile ground for exploring attention within the types of organizational dynamics that emerge over time between group members within musical situations, especially those related to improvisation. We propose three enactive-ecological themes that we develop in terms of three ranges of timescales of attention modulation. The purpose of the three themes and associated timescales is to provide a way of making distinctions and disentangling processes while doing justice to the complex interdependencies of organizational dynamics (Gahrn-Andersen et al. 2019). Firstly, we consider the notion of habit which affirms the interdependencies between organism and environment as a fundamentally embodied process of identity generation (James and Loaiza 2020). Secondly, we consider the role of attention within social interactivity, whereby attention can be said to emerge within the processes of participatory sense-making (De Jaegher and Di Paolo 2007). Finally, we propose that while attention has often been articulated through ocularcentric metaphors of focus or illumination, a more fruitful approach might involve articulating the speed, strength, or amplification of such dynamics as a processual, non-static paradigm. Technologically-mediated musical practices, particularly ones which involve improvisational modes of playing, offer not only an environment in which these ideas can be studied, but also provide participatory and experiential platforms for interdisciplinary research (Hayes 2019).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAccess and Mediation
Subtitle of host publicationTransdisciplinary Perspectives on Attention
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110647242
ISBN (Print)9783110642858
StatePublished - Feb 7 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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