Conference paper Open Access

Sound as Synthesis: technological listening and intra-faces of sound

Nyström, Erik

This paper suggests that despite the acousmatic ethos that it does not matter how a sound was made established electroacoustic theory and aesthetics are largely linked to a composition method that concentrates on acoustic sound sources and transformations, and thus framed by a specific technological model. Correspondingly, the idiom is less ready to make sense of sounds that do not have a real or suggested acoustic profile or spatiality, such as sounds generated by non-standard synthesis and generative algorithms. With the help of Karen Barad’s concept of intra-action, this paper substitutes the idea of source with the principle of synthesis. In doing this, technological listening – a mode defined by Denis Smalley indicating that technology is heard at the expense of music – is reframed. The view that technology is a means to an end is challenged through a speculative listening tactic that scans intra-faces, where sound is not conceptualised as a physical event, but rather as a synthesis among the technologies of audio, acoustic events, and human cognition. Further, technomorphology is suggested as a term and tool for expanding our morphological vocabulary with the non-physical or posthuman profiles of technological artefacts.

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