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.
Sonification, data, affordances, Large Hadron Collider, exploratory practices, aesthetics, Martin Howse, Shintaro Myazaki, Graham Harwood, YoHa.