Interference Journal Issue 4

For this issue of Interference we invited papers that addressed any aspect of auditory cultures but placed some emphasis on the methodologies and frameworks that informed research and practice. Sound is an epistemological practice and methodology that is now brought to bear in areas such as sociology, anthropology, geography and cultural studies, to name just a few disciplines. Auditory practices now complement, augment or replace existing methods. This becomes about listening in the traditional sense – to spaces, histories or discourses – but it is also about developing particular embodied, temporal, or ambulatory attitudes to empirical enquiry. There is a ‘sonic sensibility’ and the approaches featured in this volume suggest that this goes beyond simply lending the world an ear. However, we also recognise that Sound Studies is now so well-established in its own right that it is time to take stock of the methods and approaches that constitute the discipline…

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Whilst allowing for the establishment of novel performance practices, the availability of audio and video networking technologies poses questions regarding the representation of remote bodies, spaces and actions. Awareness of the formal attributes of the medium can greatly contribute to the development of successful presentation strategies, particularly as their design is incorporated into the broader creative process of a piece. We borrow from the concept of network dramaturgies to help illustrate this compositional approach, and suggest that the use of conceptual metaphors – particularly that of a network window – can lead to meaningful dialogues between the work and the medium.

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Live electroacoustic performance juxtaposes two main elements: the real, present and physical, against the simulated and disembodied. The relationship between the two, one of ambiguity, dissonance, or unexplained connections, can create poetic affect. Two such affects will be discussed here: the uncanny and the sublime. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I will explore these themes in the context of ritual and performance traditions as well as critical studies, and will apply them to the electroacoustic case. I will distinguish between several types of ‘absence’: evoked absentees, partial absences and doubles. I will refer to Brook’s ‘holy theatre’, Chion’s ‘acousmêtre’ and Link’s discussion of silence. I will also show how ‘absence’ has been used expressively in the works of Lynch, Dodge, Ostertag, and Crumb as well as my own work.

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In this article I discuss the relationship between landscapes, sounds and remembrance. While acknowledging the importance of bodily presence in processes of emplacement, I also consider the ways in which this presence is disrupted by absence and hauntings. Reflecting on sound walks around the abandoned and ruined villages of the Ara Valley in Northern Spain I explore methodological approaches that unsettle the immersive relationship between self and place and consider ways in which place is shaped through haunting rather than dwelling. This perspective shatters both linear temporality and accounts of embodied emplacement. In relation to this perspective, I consider the work of W.G. Sebald, in whom I discover an exemplary ‘poetics of suspension’, and explore the translatability of this poetics into the methodology and interpretation of audio practices and finally consider their potential role as ‘sonic memorials’.

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This paper is written through the combined experience of my own artistic practice and periods of immobility during 2010-2011. With it, I aim to draw attention towards physical, mental and political states of stillness and absorption. I will show how a period of relative physical stasis impacted upon my own practice and prompted a counter project to the now dominant methodology of soundwalking. Through personal reflection, I will demonstrate how walking is not always an entitled right; how class, gender and geopolitical forces impact upon a walk; and how the methodology itself may even perpetuate a culture of pursuit and entrapment. In doing so, the paper re-evaluates the politics and aesthetics of soundwalking whilst optimistically proposing listening as a form of walking.

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With the advent of cheap digital recording gear many have taken to recording their environments and presenting it as sound art. Without considering how technology leaches the soul an environment much of today’s field recording based sound art will ultimately fail to capture the holistic nuance and subtleties found in nature. What this essay calls for is a resurrection and development of the post-digital aesthetic in the form of “Transcendigitalism.”

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The research grew out of experiences with deep listening and a free form of soundwalking in urban and non-urban environments in Rio de Janeiro. The practice consists of intersensory drifts with field recordings, photos, drawings and texts. This process emphasises the relationship between listening, intersensoriality, imagination and memory, the entwinement between what is physically listened and ‘non-cochlear’ sounds and the resonances created by the mix of acoustic spaces and sonic reveries. This experimental methodology led to the construction of experienced fictions, a poetic and non-realistic account of events used to produce art linked to everyday life and fiction.

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This essay works at the methodological intersection of women-of-colour feminism and cultural materialist media studies in order to trace depictions of differential listening in Chican@ literature. I argue that the Chican@ literature of differential listening reveals alternative histories of listening to those offered in cultural materialist studies of sound reproduction media such as Jonathan Sterne’s The Audible Past. Placing Chican@ texts such as Tomás Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra and Pat Mora’s House of Houses, I contend that Sterne’s excavation of the discourses surrounding specific approaches to audile technique demonstrates how these examples of Chican@ literature, which trace alternative modes of listening, similarly unearth alternative discourses and understandings of the ‘real’ and, thereby, of what constitutes history.

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