In 1986 James Clifford wrote in his introduction to Writing Culture, “Why bother about the ear?” as our culture is the result of acts of inscription, reading, and interpretation, acts within the domain of vision, visibility, and perspective. However, the final decades of the twentieth century have given rise to what is now known as “auditory culture” or “sound studies,” a new discourse that takes the aural relation between humans and their environment as its main topic.
Increasingly, sound studies must deal with ontological, epistemological, and methodological questions, such as How can sonic phenomena be scrutinised? How can knowledge on the sonic world be generated? And which methods enable the articulation of this phenomenon? These questions have led to the first initial and cautious steps toward what can be called a sonic materialism, which tries to avoid the pitfalls of a (new) essentialism and realism and argues in favour of acknowledging temporality and process (perhaps somehow comparable to Deleuze’s idea of becoming).
In my presentation I will try to sketch some contours of what a sonic materialism could be(come) and how this deviates from the conceptual frameworks that have dominated Western culture and discourses, as Clifford described back in 1986.
about the author(s)
Marcel Cobussen wanted to become a professional soccer player. He did not succeed. Too bad. Now he is both a musician and a philosopher. He studied jazz piano at the Conservatory of Rotterdam and art and cultural studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands). He teaches music philosophy, sound studies, and artistic research at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the Orpheus Institute Ghent (Belgium). He was a supervisor and part-time researcher at Lund University and the Malmö Academy of Music (Sweden) from 2006 to 2011. Cobussen thinks around sound and music. The results include several books, articles, book contributions, and an online dissertation, Deconstruction in Music . At home, he plays mostly free improvised music and experimental (Japanese) electronic music. Otherwise, he enjoys fitness, travelling, listening, and sleeping. Note: he only writes about music he appreciates (not reversible). He lives with wife, Ida, and daughters, Eva and Sarah, but loves rabbits, penguins, and camels as well. So far, he is quite satisfied with his life.