Journal of Sonic Studies

Issue 20

Issue 20

The Pteropoetics of Birdstrike (2020) Jacob Smith
“The Pteropoetics of Birdstrike” is a work of multimedia scholarship consisting of a curatorial essay and a twenty-five minute audio piece. Working at the intersection of Sound Studies, Environmental Humanities, and Mobility Studies, the project examines the phenomenon of birdstrike: when birds collide with aircraft. The physical and radiophonic spaces of the airport create a contact zone of human and avian aeromobilities, with birdstrikes as vivid dramas of that shared space. I consider the implications of birdstrike through a critical essay that curates an audio composition that works through the selection and juxtaposition of found sound material. That material consists of recordings of air traffic control conversions during birdstrike incidents, recorded interviews with a pioneer in the field of forensic ornithology, and several poetry recitations. The recitations include the iconic “aerial image” of a skylark’s flight-song, paired with recordings of the actual bird. The result of the whole is to redirect a tradition of aerial imagination towards a new “pteropoetics” that understands the sky as a habitat shared with others.
open exposition
The Soundscape of Quarantine: The Role of Sound During a Public Health Crisis (2020) Braxton Boren
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people must remain indoors for a very long period of time. To mitigate the deleterious effects of a quarantine, several recommendations are proposed here to improve the soundscape for those under lockdown. Some voluntary and non-voluntary suggestions are offered to reduce low frequency noise transmission in adjacent apartment units. In addition, it is argued that reverberation and binaural rendering would provide a needed change of soundscape for those stuck indoors. Even these small measures may help make a long quarantine more tolerable so that more people stay inside until the crisis is over.
open exposition
Noise and Silence: The Contemporary Sound Sculptures of Adam Basanta (2020) Shauna Jean Doherty
This article examines the radical and destabilizing potential of noise and silence, expressed by Canadian artist Adam Basanta’s sound sculpture practice. The author’s analysis is undertaken through a comparison of Basanta’s works to those of foundational sound artists, John Cage and Steve Reich, as well as contemporary sound sculpture practitioners, Robert Pugliese, Konrad Smoleński, Michael Sailstorfer, and Nikita Gale. Dominant themes of noise, silence, and feedback recur in the referenced artists’ practices, demonstrating a shared interest in the dynamics of sonic power.
open exposition
Secret Noise: Marcel Duchamp and the (Un)sound Object (2020) Krzysztof Fijalkowski
Marcel Duchamp’s enigmatic sculpture With Hidden Noise (1916) is widely known, but its complex relationship to sound has received limited attention. Containing a secret object whose presence and identity is registered only by the noise it makes inside a ball of twine held between metal plates, this performative aspect of the work remains unavailable for contemporary audiences; as such, it participates in what Christof Migone qualifies as the “unsound,” the latent aural registers of silence or suppressed noise. Considering the secrecy and sonic capabilities of this object, as well as the work’s collaborative contexts alongside the repeated interest in sound found elsewhere in Duchamp’s activity, gives access to reading With Hidden Noise as a proposition about hidden or embodied knowledge, a knowledge whose complex and hybrid nature is specifically registered through the promise of a performance of sound that remains tacit but resonant.
open exposition
Sonic Affordances of a Sacred Spring. The Urban Courtyard as a Figure of Rehabilitation of the Medina (2020) Noha Gamal Saïd
This article investigates, from an in situ sonic experience, the rehabilitation project of the Source Bleue in Tiznit, Morocco, realized in 2015 by the architect and anthropologist Salima Naji. As the new architecture has favored the acoustic aspect of the spring, I reflect on the sonic affordances of the rehabilitated space. The study hinges on three concepts – affordances, thresholds, and ambiances – in order to analyze a double focus on sounds: field recordings (fixed points and short journeys) and a text that basically represents the author’s feelings, reinforced through short interviews conducted with users of the space. By using these methods, it is possible to determine the particularities of this soundscape and to comprehend the sonic affordances of the Source Bleue.
open exposition
Experiencing Recorded Geophony. Listening to Arctic Winter Winds at Home (2020) Svein Høier and Asbjørn Tiller
This essay discusses how YouTube users describe their experience when listening to long durations of recorded geophony, in this case the sounds of winter winds. The analysis shows how individual differences and ambivalence are expressed in commentaries online and how the listening experiences involve affects, memories, associations, and imagination as well as, according to some user comments, having a more physical impact. The discussion draws on both recent and traditional theories, concepts, and terminology in order to study the phenomenon at hand. We argue that a listener-centered approach can be used to generate new knowledge on everyday listening to recorded geophony and find it relevant to search for similarities and contrasts between listening to these geophonic sounds and the somewhat parallel phenomenon of listening to music as background sound.
open exposition
The Timbre of Tone, the Texture of Space: An Embodied Approach to the Atmospheric Modulations of Éliane Radigue (2020) Mark Saccomano
The electronic music of Éliane Radigue provides a striking experience of sound, space, audition, and their interdependence - dramatically demonstrating the link between music perception and listener actions. Radigue’s musical structures are not fully realized until they are taken up by the listener; listening subject and musical object participate in an event that is mutually constitutive of these roles, articulating the space shared by both. Drawing on James J. Gibson’s (1986) ecological approach to perception, as well as Scott Marratto’s (2012) work on Merleau-Ponty’s theory of embodiment and meaning, I show that space is more than simply a transparent medium through which music flows: sonic characteristics of the music combine with bodily comportment to constitute a work wherein sounds come to inhabit space with the same material presence as the listener. By calling upon our capabilities as embodied listeners, Radigue’s music offers us an opportunity to become reattuned to our surroundings, presenting new possibilities for action within the spaces we inhabit.
open exposition
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