Space, Sound, and the Home(less)
Kevin Toksöz Fairbairn
Following Rosalyn Deutsche, this essay examines how the binary opposition enforced by the boundaries of domesticity enforce containment and enclosure, particularly of excluded bodies, i.e. the homeless. This enclosure, which is read through Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the decorporealization of space, is enforced primarily through a logic of visuality and compartmentalization. This essay proposes sound as a means to counter these states of enclosure. Using concepts of dwelling (Heidegger), weaving (Ingold), and nomadism (Braidotti), a sonic recorporealization is developed through personal, domestic sound art experimentation and instrument building. The results and repercussions are then examined in the context of the singular home, its local community, and society more broadly, wherein sound is proposed as a means to instigate practices of spatial recorporealization.
Nanna Hauge Kristensen
This translated audio piece is a sonic exploration of the everyday life of an elderly woman called Alice. Alice lives in a suburb of Copenhagen. Based on the ways in which she inhabits her home a sonic cartography is unfolding, revealing a close connection between the acoustic environment and her bodily decline.
Telephonic Territories. The Landline Phone As a “Place-Dependent” Sound Technology
Mette Simonsen Abildgaard
A distinguishing feature of the landline telephone is that, in contrast to most phones in use today, it belongs first and foremost to a place. Following the last thirty years of scholarly interest in the wide-ranging implications of mobile telephony, what would happen if we were to pay similar attention to the significance of living with “place-dependent” sound technologies such as the home telephone? In this article, I draw on concepts from the fields of sound studies and science and technology studies (STS) to present the twentieth-century landline telephone as a place-dependent sound technology based on qualitative interviews with Danish landline telephone users. I emphasize several consequences of “place-dependency”: First, that the home becomes an “auditory territory” (LaBelle 2010) where zones of telephonic silence and noise are fixed but also call for continuous negotiations. The notion of territory points us towards the second consequence – that negotiations of ownership become complicated through the landline telephone’s attachment to a household rather than an individual. Third, I consider the implications of the landline telephone’s irreducibility from its surroundings, where it exists as less a solitary technology than an assemblage of the home. Here, I also pay attention to the way immobility for the landline telephone is not a stable concept but is continuously re-negotiated by its users and its own assembled materiality.
Echoes of Subjectivity: A Literary Acoustemology of the Home
This paper works towards an acoustemology of the home by investigating the home’s depiction in a literary text, Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway. This interdisciplinary approach is chosen to explore the potential of tapping into sonic epistemologies encapsulated in literature. Borrowing Brandon LaBelle’s concept of acoustic territories, relationships between notions of home and the auditory are traced in the novel, leading to an analysis that develops the sonic figure of the echo as a micro-epistemology. In a close reading of selected scenes, the aesthetic and philosophical implications are examined and, drawing on Levinas, Irigaray, Nancy, and Deleuze, this text traces how the figure of the echo ultimately provides the structure of the subject as it is constituted in the ethical encounter, in the resonance with an Other. In turn, this analysis reflects on how the conditions of the “feminine” sphere of the home inform conceptualizations of ethics, politics, and philosophy.
ANTIVIRUS !Make some domestic noise! on ∏ Node Part II
Sarah Brown and Valentina Vuksic, Valentina Vuksic
!Make Some Domestic Noise! was a series of collective online performances that took place during the first COVID-19 lockdown. They featured what might be described as an online domestic noise big band. As everyone was isolated at home, the ∏ Node collective launched the Antivirus program to train people on how to join and contribute their own stream and sounds.
Being alone at home can be stressful, but it can also reveal the beauty of everyday noises.
On a weekly basis, people were invited by email to participate by playing with the noises of their domestic appliances and live stream the results. These separate audio streams were then mixed in real time and sent to the main output stream. This was enabled by the ∏ Node site structure, which provides a volume control for every active stream. The website also has an Internet Relay Chat through which participants can, and did, directly interact.
Soundwalking Homes in Design Ethnography
Stine S. Johansen and Peter Axel Nielsen
In this paper, we investigate the use of soundwalks in a design ethnographical study. For this study we introduced the concept of sound zones to participants from different households and used soundwalks to enable them to discuss the concept, which would, ideally, reveal design opportunities and constraints. Soundwalks have been used in urban planning to achieve insights regarding resident perceptions of the soundscape in a local environment. As an additional positive offshoot, interaction design studies has used the method to build awareness among people living in a particular environment. With this paper, we provide insights into what can be gained from using soundwalks to engage participants in an abductive process and discussion about the concept and idea of sound zone technology. We present three specific ways that recorded, self-guided soundwalks supported this process: Establishing design conditions, enabling unexpected sounds, and supporting embodied experiences. We relate this to the theoretical constructs of temporality and abduction and thereby extend the soundwalk method to support reflections about possible futures of implementing a design.
Acoustic Territories of the Body: Headphone Listening, Embodied Space, and the Phenomenology of Sonic Homeliness
Jacob Kingsbury Downs
Can we describe certain sonic experiences as “homely,” even when they take place outside of a traditional home-space? While phenomenological accounts of home abound, with writers detailing a rich spectrum of the felt characteristics of the homely including safety, familiarity, and affective “warmth,” there is a scarcity of research into sonic experience that engages with such literatures. With specific interest in the experience of embodied space, I account here for what might be termed feelings of “sonic homeliness” as they emerge during headphone listening. After forming a conceptual model of homeliness that draws from phenomenological philosophy, I investigate its applicability to experiences of headphone listening. Through analysis of primary interview data, I consider how headphones may be said to territorialize space for listeners, analyzing how sonic “boundaries” are experienced in relation to the body, as well as how some listeners describe their experiences as interiorized, comforting, and “wombic.”
Sounds of Another Home: Telepresence, COVID-19 and a Bioscience Laboratory in Transition
Based on an ethnography of a bioscience laboratory in Tokyo before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper focuses on telepresence, and the growing demand for workers to maintain extended simultaneous presence in multiple electronic, or electronically augmented, spaces. In contrast to views promoting the liberating affordances of telework in the maintenance of healthy work-life balance (reduced commute time; increased “presence” in family life), an analysis of sound reveals the way the home becomes reorganized, and ultimately de-prioritized, under work demands. In particular, online meetings, which privilege discrete information exchange, position the home as a barrier to productive communications. Receding the soundscape of the home in this way reflects a normalization of the neoliberal imperative to find self-realization in workplace forms of sociality.
At Home in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles Festival Neighborhood
Edda Bild, Daniel Steele, and Catherine Guastavino
Urban festivals have traditionally been considered incompatible with residential areas because of their contrasting sonic characters, where the sounds of festivals are treated as a nuisance for residents. However, the neighborhood dedicated to housing festivals in downtown Montreal is also the home of diverse groups of residents and workers. Based on a diary and interview study with residents of the Quartier des spectacles festival neighborhood, and building upon research on touristification, festivals as third places, and soundscape, we explored what it meant to be at home in a festival neighborhood, focusing on the sonic experiences of locals. Findings provided a more nuanced portrayal of everyday life in a dense, lively urban environment transformed through touristification. Residents do not consider the sounds of festivals as a primary source of annoyance; on the contrary, these sounds inspire them to engage with their neighborhood, suggesting a more porous living experience between indoor and outdoor spaces. Drawing on the characterization of other imagined residents by our participants, we conclude by introducing the idea of soundscape personas as a practical method in participatory decision-making for the future of the neighborhood.
Editorial - Sound at Home 1: Territory, Materiality and the Extension of Home
Mette Simonsen Abildgaard
For this special issue of the Journal of Sonic Studies, we invited authors to consider sound at home from a range of perspectives: sound at home as the hum of appliances, the babble of water pipes, the chatter of media, and the creaking of a wooden floor; sounds that seep in from other homes and from the world outside – traffic, music, shouting, disconcerting sounds that stand out, and sounds that go unheard in their familiarity.