jueves, 26 de marzo de 2009

acoustic space/orality/the spoken word

I'm searching ideas for my phase 3. My point is to connect, as far as possible, the audio project with my other phases and my presentation... Hypertext audio is hard to develop though...
I found the blog I link at the bottom of the post, which is very interesting and may give me some ideas...

"McLuhan had established decades ago the consequences of TV as a new medium that would return society to its tribal ways, pushing the literate man back to an "
Acoustic" world where oral tradition is the preferred mechanism for cultural transfer. "Acoustic"‚ was mostly used as a metaphor for‚ many things happening at once".


lunes, 16 de marzo de 2009


I just read the chapter "Visual and Acoustic Space" from the work The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, by Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan, and would like to make some notes here in the blog - specially in relation to the previous post, and also as a way to foster ideas for my phase 3 project.

In "The Global Village", McLuhan proposes a detailed conceptual framework through which we can understand the significant technological changes carried out during the past decades. One of the main points of his theory is that technology users are "trapped" by two different ways of perceiving the world. On the one hand we have what he calls "visual space" (the linear perception, a characteristic of the Western world); on the other, the acoustic space (the holistic reasoning, from the Eastern world). The author argues that the printed media stimulates and mantains the perception of visual space; however, important changes in communication media (tv, technology database, satellite networks, global media...) are leading the users towars a more dynamic and multi-axial "acoustic space".

I found a very interesting (and brief) article about this same text, that would like to share with all of you. It is very useful, since it summarizes the main ideas of the McLuhan's article:

- Western history has been dominated by the perception of the world as a linear thought: everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The result is a world view dominated by linear logic and the symbolic abstraction of meaning.
- The alphabet and writing strongly biases our communication towards the world of visual space. Our discourse about our environment is constricted into ideas of lines, planes and grids. The universe is perceived as having a beginning, and at some point an end; time is constructed as a line.
- In contrast with the linear biases of visual space, acoustic space is analogous to the natural environment. Acoustic space surrounds us.

-Writing and publishing are the main technologies that have focused Western society on the visual; however, McLuhan claims the counteraction of two "acoustic" technologies (cash money and the compass), have kept us with some balance. Acoustic technologies focus on the intangible and the global.



Left hemisphere of the brain.

Linear, sequential; based on the line, plane, grid, perspective. Heightens response of the eye. Linear conceptualization, causality.


Right hemisphere of the brain.

Gyroscopic, 360 degrees, reflective, reverberant, simultaneous. Heightens response of the ear (balance). Oral culture, myth, time as a cycle.


martes, 10 de marzo de 2009

the world as a sound environment

"Daily life has a soundtrack. If you can't listen to it,
it's just because we are used to hear it"

Ramon Pelinski, musician.

I've spent these days just listening to sounds that surround me everyday. I've been walking around with my ears and my mind open, as Nadine suggested last week in class, cultivating a better awareness of background sounds, ambiance, sound environments, sound space boundaries... It's pretty amazing to realize how unaware we are of the incredible amount of sound surrounding us 24/7, sometimes because our culture tends to privilege sight, images and visual impacts.

Our daily lives are full of sounds, to the extent that he world is a sound environment. The sounds give us essential information for a better comprehension of the environment in which we operate on a regular basis. understanding the environment in which we operate. Auditory references provide us information about the proportions of the spaces we inhabit, warn us of possible dangers... and so on. There are a multitude of sounds in our world that tells us stories, as well as there are a number of sounds (and stories) we produce every day in each of our ordinarytasks. However, very few people actually listen and pay attention to these sounds.

In order to get some ideas for my phase 3 project, I started a while ago to do some research regarding sound environment and the concept of "soundscape". I've found very interesting stuff, such as this text, El Mundo es un paisaje sonoro (The world is a sonorous landscape), which takes a pretty quick overview to the history of sound and sound recording.

As this text explains, with the advent of tape recorders (and portable tape recorders, afterwards) these sounds that I just mentioned above stopped being noticed by people and started to become recorded sound (that could be stored and transmitted over and over again). This had enormous consequences (very good ones, if we think in the value of radio and film, for instance), mostly a change of our "hearing perception": almost all the sounds people percieved in their environments, started to become translated into noise. But most of the time what we call "noise" is actually these amount of incredible of sounds which we don't really pay attention.

This week I've been paying attention to them. Trying to translate our internalized concept of "landscape" into another one, "soundscape".