This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay examines a growing number of filmmakers who construct personal sound aesthetics that rework the rules of sound and image relations. This trend has emerged over the past decade, and it finds global filmmakers engaged in a revitalization of the affective powers of film sound in a digitally converged world. Under consideration are issues of sound authorship, acoustic markers of cultural identity, how sound tropes circulate transnationally, and whether the rules governing sound and image are culturally determined.
One of the defining thematic preoccupations in the fiction filmmaking of Philippe Grandrieux, one of the leading figures in French Art Cinema, is that of the politics of property. In Sombre, La Vie Nouvelle, and Un Lac, the relationship dynamics between a woman and a variety of agents competing to claim her are mapped out in the overlap between different registers of space. This overlap opens up complex dynamics between differing spatial practices that are evident within Grandrieux’s narratives and the stylistics with which he shapes them, breaking down conventional understanding of the distance between screen and audience. This chapter argues that one cannot account for the richness of spatial practice in these films without attention to the representation of acoustic space. Drawing on recent concepts in sound studies and critical geography, and expanding upon the literature on Grandrieux’s work, the author focuses on instances of spatial delineation that defines elements of owned property in each of these films.
This article explores the role of amateur music in the age of sound recording and reproduction technologies. It begins by evaluating concerns about the fate of the amateur in the early twentieth century. Most of the examples cited are from the United States, and the claims hold most strongly for American musical life. However, it also draws evidence from Europe and Asia to suggest the global scope of technologically mediated amateur music making. A strong user-perspective is reflected throughout this article. It then presents four case studies to examine the complex relationship between amateurism and music technologies. The case studies reveal a constant process of co-construction between users and the music. It also takes into account the social construction of technology (SCOT), as well as on the fields of cultural studies and media studies, to explore how users perform and construct identity through technology.
The history of the black diaspora is full with examples of the ways music has enabled various black cultural communities to cope with racial oppression. This article explains how sound-producing technology, in the form of vinyl records and turntables, functions within communities that endow these devices with cultural value. Hip-hop is used to center the discussion on ways in which turntables and vinyl records are attributed a racial authenticity not seen in other music communities where DJs exist. It begins with the premise that the hip-hop culture, similar to other music cultures, is a deeply technological way of life. Furthermore, it explores hip-hop and the emergence of digital vinyl systems and discusses hip-hop and race in the digital age. Finally, it suggests that the intersections of hip-hop, technology, and sound could help understand the ways the materiality of sound is embedded and circulated within society.
J. Martin Daughtry
This chapter examines the history of the militarization of the iPod portable media player during the first six years of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Drawing on interviews and correspondence with American military service members and Iraq war veterans, the chapter documents how iPods and the music they contained were used to smooth and hasten the passage of time, tether service members to their civilian lives back home, memorialize the deaths of fallen comrades, “pump up” troops for combat, maintain their focus on missions, and calm them down at the end of the day. The chapter also illuminates the degree to which the iPod has become a thoroughly militarized prosthetic technology—one deployed in the service of media consumption, one-way translation, interrogation, crowd dispersal, intelligence gathering, “winning hearts and minds,” and even precision shooting in the field.
The Avant-Garde in the Family Room: American Advertising and the Domestication of Electronic Music in the 1960s and 1970s
Timothy D. Taylor
Today, the world is surrounded by electronic sounds of all kinds, which were not always so omnipresent or accepted. This article offers a history of the domestication of sounds that were initially associated with science fiction but fairly quickly found their way into television commercials. It uses the domestication concept in three ways. The first deals with the adoption of sounds associated with science fiction to use in selling products in everyday life. The second explores the complex set of processes behind the scenes by which electronic sounds were harnessed for use in selling. Under this, the article addresses the question of how electronic musicians convinced potential clients in and out of the advertising industry that such sounds could be used in advertising. Finally, the article refers the concept of domestication to the ways in which commodities were thought to become friendly products for consumers and were brought to life by electronic sounds.
Starting from an interdisciplinary perspective of methodological integration of the concepts of body and sound in the contemporary dance scene, this chapter addresses the general aesthetic notion of sonorous body. Through a survey of some key practices and pieces by Wayne McGregor, Ginette Laurin, Angelin Preljocaj, Cindy Van Acker and others, the author analyzes the audiovisual dimension of these works, developed with digital technologies and in a collaboration of choreographers with electronic musician and sound artists such as Scanner, Kasper T. Toeplitz, Granular Synthesis, and Mika Vainio. This audiovisual tension, defined as the sonorous body, can be read through two interpretations. In the first, the sound is a body, which means the electronic sound of the scene is an acoustic material. In the second, the body is a sound, which means the body of the dancers produces the soundscape of a scene.
Heather A. Horst
This chapter analyses the digital inscription of names and identities in mobile phones contact list. Drawing upon research on mobile phones in Jamaica, it examines how the construction of mobile phone contact lists is informed by Jamaican’s historical relationship names and naming as part of auditory practice and imagination. Moving beyond an assumption of instrumental relationships between contacts and social networks, it highlights how the combination of the predesigned structure and the increasing capabilities of cellular phones to incorporate digital images, videos, and music intersects with culturally specific relationships to sound, orality, and performance.
Jan Maghinay Padios
This chapter examines the emergence of the political ringtone in the Philippines in the neoliberal era. It argues that the popularity of the “Hello Garci” and “Sorry Po” ringtones in the midst of the Arroyo election scandal signaled the convergence of significant transformations in technology, culture, and politics in the Philippines that began in the mid-1990s. By focusing on the work of TXTPower, a Manila-based consumer and citizen advocacy group for mobile phone users and political opposition to the Arroyo administration, it also contends that these transformations indicate that neoliberalism does not constitute a refashioning of liberal democratic institutions, but a threat to them.
Justin A. Williams
This chapter examines the relations or intersections between the automobile and popular music. It discusses the history of car audio and describes contemporary car audiophile subcultures. It also investigates the influence of the automobile in the production of popular music, particularly with the hip-hop music production style of Dr. Dre. It explains that Dr. Dre’s G-funk of the 1990s was specifically created for listening in car stereo systems and suggests that his work illustrates how musical materials can be reused and customized for the automotive listening experience.