The noises of a society are in advance of its images and material conflicts. Our music foretells our future. Let us lend it an ear. – Jacques Atalli
We wanted to begin this issue with an acknowledgement that ‘noise’ today is not necessarily a disruptive force operating outside of what is being disrupted. Taking this as a starting point, how might we think of noise as a constructive set of audiosocial tactics that disturb systems (genres, institutions, orders) from within? This means thinking about noise not only within traditionally sonic categories such as tonal dissonance or vibrational force, but inviting an expanded view that considers how sonic strategies intersect with broader social, technical and political forms of conflict. Here an array of sonic considerations, from unwanted sounds, chaotic frequency distribution, deconstructive remainder, systemic glitch or excess, blend and gesture both to cultural practices of dissent and their broader socio-political resonances.
The project for A Sonic Geography began with a recognition of the vibrancy and increasing significance of various bodies of work on auditory space. Practices such as aural architecture, soundscaping, spatial music and sonic sculpture now find a non-specialist public and an institutional legitimacy that fosters future development. Moreover, theoretical research tracing sonic phenomena as cartography, site-specific signifier, or spatial strategy has acquired a new maturity in recent years. Interference wishes to progress this interaction between theoretical reflection from different domains of research and sustained practical experimentation as it generates new possibilities for auditory spatial awareness.
The title of the inaugural issue of Interference – “An Ear Alone is Not a Being” : Embodied Mediation in Audio Culture – acknowledges acoustic practices that involve not just the ear but a corporeal body that senses, resonates, transduces and responds to sound, and furthermore, seeks to emphasize the legacy of this embodied listening subject in the practices, media, and conceptual frameworks that make up audio cultures. ‘Embodied mediation’ presumes a reciprocal process: the texts in this issue explore not only how listening experiences and acoustic practices are shaped by corporeality, but also attend to the many ways in which those processes work upon that body, through psychophysical affect and the representation and encoding of listening subjects in acoustic performances, technologies and cultural artefacts.