Networked_Music_Review

OPEN n0.9: Sound in Art and Culture

1993-227-320.jpgOPEN n0.9 Sound: Sound in Art and Culture – Open 9 examines the role of sound in the public domain. After all, public space is manifest not only visually, but also, and to a considerable extent, acoustically: its public nature hinges on visibility as well as on audibility. All the same, the accent in cultural or social analyses of the public space still often rests on the visual. Despite sound’s ubiquity and inescapability, it is usually regarded as being merely illustrative, a minor consideration or nuisance. Marshall McLuhan took a critical stance on the dominance of ‘visual space’ as the ‘linear, quantitative mode of perception that is characteristic of the Western world’. In his view, however, this traditional space was being superseded by the ‘global village’, constituted by the electronic media, which he likened to ‘acoustic space’, a mythical, tactile, organic and integral space that is characterized by solidarity.

Though this now seems largely utopian, it is clear that technology and new media amplify the auditory space, or add an extra dimension that has aesthetic, ethical and political implications. For this reason alone, involving the role of sound in reflections on public space and in its design is as necessary as taking the visual into account. In recent years there seems to have been an increasing sensitization for the auditory aspects of everyday life and the public domain. Within ‘cultural studies’, ‘sound studies’ has emerged as a serious area of research that focuses on the history of audio media, on reflection about the nature of sound and listening or on the role of sound in modern experience and perception. In the visual arts, research is focused on the potency of sound as an aesthetic, meaningful or communicative element in relation to social or spatial environments. The medium of radio, which has proven itself capable of embracing digital culture, seems to be undergoing a veritable cultural revival, and is also being extensively explored artistically. More of the Editorial by Jorinde Seijdel.

Urban Media and the Politics of Sound Space by Jonathan Sterne – Muzak, also known as ‘nonaggressive music deterrent’, is used more and more often as a strategic weapon in the effort to make public space ‘safe’ and controllable. But according to Jonathan Sterne, its use is primarily aimed at excluding non-consumers – whereas he believes it should be seen as a vital component of urban design. In Sterne’s opinion, besides an aesthetical dimension, sound also has a political and ethical dimension. Online article.

The Audio-Hallucinatory Spheres of the City: A Pop Analysis of the Urbanization Process by Alex de Jong and Marc Schuilenburg – Under the name Studio Popcorn, architect Alex de Jong and jurist-philosopher Marc Schuilenburg research the effects of urbanization processes. They argue for the inclusion of processes other than physical, spatial ones in the scope of research on urbanization. This article focuses on the rise of an intermedial space, which includes contemporary popular music and its associated urban culture, and which plays a crucial part in today’s urbanization processes.

‘How Many Movements?’: Mobile Telephones and Transformations in Urban Space by Caroline Bassett – Mobile telephones create aural space that is both technological and imaginary. Caroline Basset explores the new spatial economy that is the result of the dynamics between physical and virtual space, between old and new space. Fragmentation and individualization are not her primary findings. Rather, according to Basset, the changing dialectics of presence/absence also generate new types of connectedness and continuity, of mobile subjectivity. Online article.

Setting Limits and Overstepping Limits: Concerning Moniek Toebosch’s Work by Brigitte van der Sande – Image and sound in Moniek Toebosch’s oeuvre are like Siamese twins; even in projects which seem initially to consist solely of sound, the surrounding countryside may for instance serve to heighten the experience of the sound. Loudspeakers are never deployed neutrally, but are presented in a dramatic setting. Brigitte van der Sande spoke to her about art, sound and open space, about overstepping limits in cultural institutions and setting limits for art in public space.

The Multiplication of the Street: New Impulses for Radio by Dirk van Weelden – Radio demon­strated all too often in the past how the community spirit could be stirred and feelings of loneliness and isolation dissolved, according to Dirk van Weelden. Today developments in mobile telephony are providing the medium of radio with a new stimulus. If the network is linked to the city’s physical reality this can stretch the significance of the public realm considerably.

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Jun 25, 2007
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  1. » O Muzak como arma de controlo do espaço público:

    […] descobri um artigo publicado no número 9 da revista holandesa OPEN (via Networked Music Review) dedicado a examinar a função do som no domínio público escrito por Jonathan Sterne – autor de […]


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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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