Friday, May 10, 2013

The Sonic City

On Monday at 1.15 pm in HUMlab at Umeå University Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor at New School, New York will give a seminar on “Hearing Urban Infrastructures: A Sonic Archaeology of the Media-City”. The abstract is:
Abstract: For over a century, scholars and designers have acknowledged the existence of a spatial form commonly known as the “media city,” which encompasses both the modern city as represented through photographs, film, and digital technologies; and the city as shaped by those same technologies. In this seminar I argue for the need to acknowledge the longue durée of the “media city,” and to move beyond ocularcentric models of urban history. Drawing on the growing body of research on infrastructure that’s emerging from across the design fields, and on work in “media archaeology” within my own field of media studies, I’ll argue that we need to “excavate” the deep history of urban mediation, and I’ll take as an example an aspect of the media city that wouldn’t seem to lend itself easily to excavation. I’m referring to the “sonic city” – the city of public address and radio waves and everyday conversation. How does one dig into a form of mediation that seemingly has no physical form? What can we learn about how our cities have functioned as material sounding boards, resonance chambers, and infrastructures for various forms of sonic communication?
I have heard Shannon speak before, have been following her work and have met her as well. This will be a killer presentation for anyone interested in urban space, audio studies, transmediality,  digital media and media archeology. If you are in Umeå or within 500 kms of it I suggest attending in person. For others there will be a live stream open upon the hour;

Shannon Mattern is an Associate Professor at New School, New York. Her research interest include relationships between the forms and materialities of media and the spaces -- architectural, urban, and conceptual -- they create and inhabit. Additional areas of interest include, generally, media and design history and theory; and, more specifically, media form and materiality; media reception (especially reading) and the spaces in which we store, access and consume media; textual theory; and media and spatial poetics. Shannon keeps a lively blog here:

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