Posted in Composition, Presentation

›Background Noise‹. Field Recordings and Ethnography

Background Noise

›[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)

noiseToday, 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”

Posted in Report

R. Murray Schafer’s ear cleaning game at The Global Composition 2012

The Global Composition Header›Considering the world’s objects as instruments, its inhabitants as their players and all sounds on the globe taking place simultaneously, leads to the imagination of a global composition. Any audible phenomenon is part of this huge ongoing concert which includes all living beings and unites them in – mostly unintentional and uncoordinated – collaboration.‹ (The Global Composition)

With ›The Soundscape‹, published in 1977, R. Murray Schafer inspired this idea of a global composition. At the correspondent Conference on Sound, Media and the Environment in Darmstadt-Dieburg in July this year, Schafer opened the meeting with an introductory lecture, including a sample of his so-called ear cleaning games.

R. Murray Schafer at Darmstadt-Dieburg, 2012R. Murray Schafer at The Global Composition 2012

Continue reading “R. Murray Schafer’s ear cleaning game at The Global Composition 2012”

Posted in Presentation

Drawing the soundscape

Experimental sketch on the socio-cultural dimensions of the soundscape (detail)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.