Exit Immersion

William Schrimshaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)
    41 Downloads (Pure)


    Immersion is the new orthodoxy. Within the production and curation of sound art, as well as within the broader fields of sound studies and auditory culture, the immersive is routinely celebrated as an experiential quality of sound, the value of which is inherent yet strengthened through opposition to the visual. This opposition of the auditory and the visual reiterates a dubious metaphysical distinction critiqued by Jonathan Sterne under the title of the "audiovisual litany," a critique that seems to have largely been tuned out or to have fallen upon deaf ears. Addressing the limitations and homogenising effects that the predominant figures of immersion and interiority have upon sonic practice and discourse, Sterne's critique is herein developed and extended to address the ideological predisposition towards the immersive and the incarcerating consequences of interiority. A critical survey of statements attesting to the immersive nature of acoustic space and experience, taken from a variety of significant authors working in the overlapping fields of sound art, sound studies and auditory culture, highlights the extent to which the figure of immersion has taken hold within sonic discourse and practice. It is argued that a price paid for this predisposition towards immersion is often the conceptual potency and efficacy of the work undertaken, resulting in arguments that compound the marginalisation and disempowerment of practices and discourses concerned with the sonic. The variously phenomenological, correlational and mystical positions that support the predominance of the immersive are subject to critique before suggesting that a stronger distinction between the immersive and the immanent might serve as an initial means of breaking with the figure of immersion and the circle of interiority towards attaining greater conceptual potency and epistemological efficacy within the sonic arts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-170
    JournalSound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Feb 2016
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2016


    • Sound Studies
    • Sound Art
    • Immersion
    • Aesthetics
    • Interiority
    • Exteriority
    • Correlationism


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