›[The] visualist bias has dramatically influenced the way in which anthropology itself has evolved. Thus, one emergent and potentially very important aid to the refocusing of the discipline lies in attending to kinds of knowledge that have proved resistant to being coded in graphic or visual ways.‹ (Michael Herzfeld on the future of anthropology; Herzfeld 2002, 245)
Today, there is an increasing concern for the senses in the humanities. Some even venture to proclaim a ›sensory turn‹. In cultural anthropology, a greater awareness for sensory phenomena and embodied subjectivities, for materiality and atmospheres is reflected in approaches such as an ›anthropology of the senses‹ (Howes 1991) or a ›sensory ethnography‹ (Pink 2009). However, in today’s academic practice many scholars still appear to be utterly reluctant to go beyond text, images, or diagrams as a means of communicating knowledge–even when presenting research on the human sensoriality.
Now ›Cultures of Auditory Knowledge–Knowledge of Auditory Praxis‹, an interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Karl Franzens University of Graz in June 2014, offered just the right setting to address and, indeed, transgress these representational conventions within an academic context. With a paper on ›Soundscapes and Ethnography. Field Recordings within Urban Studies‹ I did not try to construct another theory on sound in the city. Rather, I aimed to allow for some first-hand experiences, or at least to provide some ›sensory material‹ by presenting a composed sequence of recordings from the field.
Listening to this sound sample is an experiment you can partake of: Can these recordings actually convey a ›sense of place‹ (Feld/Basso 2009)? Do they reveal something about the people living here, about the atmosphere and mood of this particular ›sonic lifeworld‹?
Continue reading “›Background Noise‹. Field Recordings and Ethnography”
›Inside every room of every house of a street, each of them full of audible details, usually concealed behind closed doors: if it would be possible to listen to these everyday choreographies, what could you hear?‹
Buddhist temple at Berlin Ackerstraße (Photo: Andreas Praefcke)
This experimental project called Berlin Ackerstraße (2006-2007) takes you on a participant observation or rather, a participatory sound expedition in Berlin, Ackerstraße. It enables you to listen to the sounds of everyday life in Ackerstraße five years ago – while walking down the street today.
Miniatures for mobiles is an app which responds to your movements: you are literally composing by walking. You are wandering around in a radio play.
Continue reading “Compose by walking! A miniature for mobiles”
Experimental sketch on the socio-cultural aspects of the soundscape (detail; comprised in my master thesis on the soundscape as a field for cultural-anthropological research, p. 102)
›Close observation of a single subject, whether it is as tiny as Pasteur’s microbes or as great as Einstein’s universe, is the kind of work that happens less and less these days. Glued to computer and TV screens, we have forgotten how to look at the natural world, the original instructor on how to be curious about detail.‹ (Jennifer New)
Or, in other words: ›… reality is often stranger and more fascinating than anything we can make up.‹ (Jonathan Sterne)
I presented my master thesis at The Global Composition conference. An abstract is available here.
Jennifer New (2005): Drawing from life, Princeton architectural press, p. 20.
Sterne, Jonathan (2005): The Audible Past. Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, p. 338.
From 2006 to 2008 I participated in Sensing the Street, an interdisciplinary research project about three streets in Berlin resulting in three exhibitions. See www.sensingthestreet.de (in German).
Listen to an excerpt from an ethnographic audio documentary about the Ackerstraße in Berlin. Continue reading “Ethnographic audio documentary of Berlin, Ackerstraße”