Editorial: One Month in the Life of the JSS Editors

Marcel Cobussen



All JSS issues up to now, perhaps with the exception of JSS1, have been special ones, dealing with a specific theme: listening, television sounds, sonic epistemologies. (The upcoming JSS6 will be devoted to sound design, by the way.) JSS5 is special in another way: seldom will an issue of a journal be filled completely by texts and A/V materials composed by the editors of that journal themselves. Editors typically provide an opportunity to others to present their work, their experiences, their thoughts, their research, their findings; this time, however, the JSS editors use their own journal as a platform to display some of their own reflections on sound studies and sound art.[1] Shameless self-promotion or healthy pragmatism? The most important reason is that we think that the two items presented in this issue – a report of an expert meeting on auditory culture and a handful of mini-essays inspired by a sound art exhibition – might interest our readers: the first because it features efforts to transgress scientific and academic barriers in and through sound studies, the second because it presents a new way to write around sound art.

Expert Meeting Auditory Culture


The first item of JSS5 is a multi-media report of an expert meeting organized by the JSS editors, taking place on December 7, 2012 in Leiden (The Netherlands). The meeting brought together a rather heterogeneous group of (Dutch) people dealing with sound: physicians, philosophers, engineers, biologists, (sound) artists, psychologists, physicists, architects, policy officials, etc.

The aim of this meeting was, first, to get an impression of the type and scale of research (in the broadest sense of the word) on sound currently being performed in the Netherlands; and second, to have, with this gathering of artists as well as scholars from social sciences, humanities, and hard sciences, the opportunity to identify not only differences in approaches, theories, premises, methodologies, and data, but to locate similarities, overlaps, and connections as well. This has resulted in a report in which we have divided the thirteen presentations of that day into two sections: “experiencing sound” and “sound and space”. The report contains video snippets from almost all talks, audio materials used during the meeting, (excerpts of) power point presentations, and extra background information – all this woven together by the editors’ text.

Sound Art Exhibition ZKM Karlsruhe


The second item of JSS5, again a report consisting of texts, (moving) images, and sounds, arose from the occasion of the editors’ visit to the exhibition Sound Art: Klang als Medium der Kunst at the center for art and media technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (Germany) on December 15 and 16, 2012. The exhibition brought together over one hundred and thirty sounding art works, historical as well as contemporary, by famous as well as relatively unknown artists, sound objects as well as sound environments, multimedia and interactive or not. After two days of listening, looking, touching, and reading, the editors selected four works. Each editor has written a short reflection on each of the selected four works. Thus, you are invited to read four times four mini essays on four art works; for us, and I hope also for you, reading these quite different contemplations on one art work has been an interesting experience, showing something of the different backgrounds, knowledge, writing strategies, and evoked emotions of the editors in relation to sound art. The mini essays are preceded by four more general introductions, four overall impressions of the exhibition, four brief encounters with some of the other art works presented at the ZKM. For the presentation of this second item we have used a new platform, the Research Catalogue, developed by the people who are also responsible for JAR, the Journal of Artistic Research. Although this platform requires some additional navigation besides mere scrolling, it is our opinion that it better lends itself to our objective to write, literally, around the sound works in question.


The editors of JSS, Marcel, Vincent, Sharon, and Jan, enjoyed working on these two reports. We hope that you will enjoy reading, watching, and listening to them and that they will somehow contribute to the development of sound studies and the various means and mediums for investigating, documenting, sharing, and reflecting on sound.