Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear
Published: November 2009
Sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambience of fear or dread—to produce a bad vibe. Sonic weapons of this sort include the “psychoacoustic correction” aimed at Panama strongman Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army and at the Branch Davidians in Waco by the FBI, sonic booms (or “sound bombs”) over the Gaza Strip, and high-frequency rat repellants used against teenagers in malls. At the same time, artists and musicians generate intense frequencies in the search for new aesthetic experiences and new ways of mobilizing bodies in rhythm. In Sonic Warfare, Steve Goodman explores these uses of acoustic force and how they affect populations.
Traversing philosophy, science, fiction, aesthetics, and popular culture, he maps a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.
Goodman concludes with speculations on the not yet heard—the concept of unsound, which relates to both the peripheries of auditory perception and the unactualized nexus of rhythms and frequencies within audible bandwidths.
Tracing the the potential of sound, infrasound, and ultrasound to access anomalous zones of transmission between the realms of the living and the dead. For the past seven years the AUDINT group has been researching peripheral sonic perception (unsound) and the ways in which frequencies are utilized to modulate our understanding of presence/non-presence, entertainment/torture, and ultimately life/death. Concurrently, themes of hauntology have inflected the musical zeitgeist, resonating with the notion of a general cultural malaise and a reinvestment in traces of lost futures inhabiting the present. This undead culture has already spawned a Lazarus economy in which Tupac, ODB, and Eazy-E are digitally revivified as laser-lit holograms. The obscure otherworldly dimensions of sound have also been explored in the sonic fictions produced by the likes of Drexciya, Sun Ra, and Underground Resistance, where hauntology is virtually extended: the future appears in the cracks of the present. The contributions to this volume reveal how the sonic nurtures new dimensions in which the real and the imagined (fictional, hyperstitional, speculative) bleed into one another, where actual sonic events collide with spatiotemporal anomalies and time-travelling entities, and where the unsound serves to summon the undead. Contributors: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lendl Barcelos, Charlie Blake, Lisa Blanning, Brooker Buckingham, Al Cameron, Erik Davis, Kodwo Eshun, Matthew Fuller, Kristen Gallerneaux, Lee Gamble, Agnès Gayraud, Steve Goodman, Anna Greenspan, Olga Gurionova, S. Ayesha Hameed, Tim Hecker, Julian Henriques, Toby Heys, Eleni Ikoniadou, Amy Ireland, Nicola Masciandaro, Ramona Naddaff, Anthony Nine, The Occulture, Luciana Parisi, Alina Popa, Paul Purgas, Georgina Rochefort, Steven Shaviro, Jonathan Sterne, Jenna Sutela, Eugene Thacker, Dave Tompkins, Shelley Trower, and Souzana Zamfe.
More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures In Sonic Fiction: Concept Engineered
Music writer, theorist and film maker Kodwo Eshun's More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures In Sonic Fiction is set to be republished some 20 years since first appeared in 1998. Covering the music of artists such as Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, Lee Perry, Dr Octagon, Parliament and Underground Resistance, the book was revolutionary for the way Kodwo decoded the messages in jazz, dub, techno, funk, hiphop, jungle and much more in order to create new sonic possibilities and fictions. As Peter Shapiro said in The Wire 171, “This is the work of a writer who is desperately trying to break past language barriers to grasp at the ineffable qualities of music. It may not live up to the title, but it comes very close.”