Journal of Sonic Studies

Issue 10

Issue 10

Where are the Ears of the Machine? Towards a sounding micro-temporal object-oriented ontology (2015) Morten Riis
Drawing on micro-temporal media archaeology paired with object-oriented ontology, this paper will develop new ideas regarding non-human conceptualizations of sounding media, memory, time, and sound objects. Studying the way in which music machines collect and store auditory data enables us to get closer to the inner functioning and self-reflections of our sounding apparatuses, creating alternative perspectives on mediated representation and the various temporal processes unfolding within technology. Thus an interweaving of object-oriented ontology and media archaeology is unfolded, taking its starting point in a practical engagement with electro-magnetic recording devices which execute what could be described as applied ontology, something that generates awareness of the moment when media themselves become active archaeologists of knowledge.
open exposition
Mapping Soundfields: A User’s Manual (2015) Norie Neumark
This paper was written as a keynote address for ESSA 2014, Mapping the Field, where the conference organizers asked me to reflect on my own and others’ journeys between sound theory and sound practice. As a live presentation, focused on voice, my aim was to speak in a way that would invoke the journey and invite the audience to join me. To do this, I both took literally the conference’s trope of mapping, and also, in terms of style, wrote/spoke in a performative mode that does not always translate easily into a written form. While I have adapted that address for written publication here, I have chosen to leave some traces of the aural mode, because in my view it speaks to the specific task of evoking a (theoretical and practical) journey. I have also retained the voice of situated knowledge, even if I have curbed some of its more poetic and emphatic spoken moments, because it resonates with the aim of reflecting on my own and others’ journeys, as I hope will unfold in the paper below.
open exposition
Sound and Immersion in Timekiller Games (2015) Anahid Kassabian
In this article, I consider the role of sound in the immersive experience of “timekiller games.” “Timekiller games” as I define them here are a subset of casual games that are mainly played on smartphones and browsers, and while there are many subgenres, they share an ability not only to use up significant chunks of player time, but for the most part to “kill time” while waiting, winding down, procrastinating, and so on. I argue that the hyperreality of these games’ sounds, which imply physical reality much more vividly than the games’ visual designs, is one important component that helps to keep players immersed in the game world. Immersion in video games is overdetermined, and the choice of hyperreal sounds is one among a number of strategies that intersect and overlap to create an immersive experience particular to timekiller games. As the games get more challenging, requiring more and more focus, they shift roles in the attention economy, demanding more attention (as suggested by the idea of “challenge-based immersion” [Ermi and Mäyrä 2005]). This immersive experience is a kind of affective labor in which players produce affective value for the company and the industry and which is converted back and forth into “pay to win” in-app/in-game purchases. The games thus have a mixed economic form, in which their revenue streams come from a combination of initial purchases (though often these games are free to download), banner advertising at the bottom of the screen, and in-app purchasing to get past a particularly challenging level or obstacle. Thus: 1) playing timekiller games demands increasing levels of attention; 2) the games participate in the attention economy, despite appearing to be simple little timekillers; 3) the games produce affective value; 4) players and games participate in a mixed economic model of game purchase, advertising, and in–app purchases, converting affective value into material value and back again; and 5) the player is re-inserted into the attention economy to produce further affective value, thus continuing the circuit.
open exposition
Auditory filmic space as a sphere, the audiovisual chord, and the intentional archpassive synthesis in Submarino by Thomas Vinterberg (2015) Martine Huvenne
In Submarino (2010) by Thomas Vinterberg, the characters do not invite identification. Yet, their stories and situations are compelling. Rather than extending an invitation to follow and understand the story, this film invites its audience to live a (filmic) experience. In this article I investigate the role that sound plays in transmitting this experience. In a less than conventional way, I begin with the auditory elements of the film and from film as an audiovisual composition in order to propose a phenomenological approach to film sound and the audiovisual perception of this film. It is not within the scope of this essay to analyse the film as a whole. Rather, I would like to explore the way in which Vinterberg makes the audience feel the essence of his story through the compositional structure of the film. which I compare refer to a tonal musical structure, investigating the compositional functionality of filmic elements. To develop this approach, I will focus on some film fragments and on three key concepts: the auditory filmic space, the audiovisual chord, and the unity of filmic elements in an intentional arch.phenomenological concept of passive synthesis
open exposition
From Particle Data to Particular Sounds: Reflections on The Affordances of Contemporary Sonification Practices (2015) Thomas Bjørnsten
This article reflects on recent notions about data sonification within sound-based experimental and artistic practices. The intention is not to survey the current state of data sonification methods and techniques as such, but rather to suggest a number of selected points of critique for addressing specific assumptions about processes and discourses related to what we may broadly refer to as sonification. Furthermore, these issues will be addressed by critically asking what we understand by “data” in the first place, as something susceptible to be turned into actual sounding material. Considering how specific discourses and cultural understandings frame contemporary notions of data, the article also includes different examples of alternative, exploratory practices. Thus, one of the aims will partly be to open up a transdisciplinary discussion about the critical affordances and potential pitfalls of data sonification seen both as an aesthetic and a knowledge-producing practice. This involves not only attention toward strictly academic and scientific settings, but also relates to how data sonification ventures are being communicated within broader societal, cultural and art institutional contexts.
open exposition
The Sound of Stuff – Archetypical Sound in Product Sound Design (2015) Anna Symanczyk
Through their history, materiality, and use, products gain sonic qualities and attributes, which become an integral part of contemporary sound design for these objects. Taking the example of the vacuum cleaner, this article discusses the relationship between historical material properties and product sound design as well as between listening traditions and characteristic product sounds. It concludes that there is an archetypical sound for vacuum cleaners. Following the role of sound through several examples of advertisements, this article performs a cultural analysis of sounding objects and the communication surrounding these sounds in order to better understand the effects that archetypical sounds have on buyer or user perception of product sounds.
open exposition
Peirce and sound design practice (2015) Leo Murray
The semiotic model described by CS Peirce has been adapted to film and media generally, and more recently to sound and music analysis but seldom has it been applied to the actual practice of sound design. This paper argues that the model provides not only a comprehensive and powerful tool for the analysis of sound but may also be used as a tool to examine and inform the practice of sound design and production. By focussing particularly on Peirce’s later model of semiotics, which clarifies and reframes the definitions of some of the principal elements of his system, its utility in application to the analysis of sound is greatly enhanced. It provides an appropriate and flexible conceptual framework which can be applied to the processes involved in creating elements of the soundtrack – the practice of sound design – and a means to understand how the sounds themselves, and in conjunction with the image, can be used to create meaning for the audience.
open exposition
Ideologies of Sound: Longing for presence from the eighteenth century until today (2015) Nicola Gess
This essay began with a suspicion and a discomfort. The suspicion was that the pervasive theoretical interest in sound and music in recent years is connected with the simultaneous popularity of an aesthetics of presence in philosophical discourse. For music has time and again been appealed to as part of the search for preconceptual sensory experience, for immediacy, bodily presence, or states of immersion. The discomfort was that such appeals are often connected with an ideologically motivated understanding of music that ultimately has little to do with a historically informed, critical and concrete examination of music as an art form. Instead, this appeal is often accompanied by a return to the past that is motivated by cultural criticism: a lost essence (of language, art, community) is sought and rediscovered in music or sound, as is the experience of immediacy and bodily presence. The long tradition of this entanglement of art and ideology in philosophies of music can be traced in texts by, among others, Rousseau, Wackenroder, Nietzsche, and Bloch; today, it reappears in the work of philosophers of presence and sound theorists.
open exposition
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