Tonotopia: Listening through cochlear implants opens at the V&A

Tonotopia: Listening through Cochlear Implants

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‘Tonotopia: Listening Trough Cochlear Implants’ is a series of works developed by artist and composer Tom Tlalim in residency at the V&A and through dialogues with users of Cochlear Implants. The show explores technologically-extended listening. It is on show at the V&A’s John Lyons Charity Community Gallery from Fri October 12th untill March 2019.

Cochlear implants (CIs) enable people who are profoundly deaf to perceive sound digitally. But as they are designed mainly for speech, the implants do not accurately convey musical pitch and dynamic sounds. This makes it often difficult for CI users to listen to music and other complex sounds.

Fascinated by this unique form of hearing, artist and composer Tom Tlalim invited six CI users to the V&A to participate in his research on co-designing sound art for CI users. The conversations revealed a huge diversity of experiences before and after the implant surgery and following the pivotal moment when the CI devices were switched on.

This display presents these encounters alongside objects donated by the participants and sound art created by Tom Tlalim in response to the research.

For more information about this project, visit

Participating CI users: Stephen Bell, Rachael Cunningham, Seohye Lee, Chris Peecock, Edward Rex, Sarah Smith

Artistic team: Ariel Caine (Cinematography), Dror Shohet (Editing and Cinematography)

Co-curated by Dr Tom Tlalim with Leanne Manfredi and the V&A design team. Special thanks to Rory Hyde, Prof. David Furness, Prof. Maria Chait (UCL), Prof. Mara Mills (NYU) and Chen Wagner.

Acoustic solutions by Ecophon
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and in collaboration with Action on Hearing Loss