Thinking about Sound: a critique of sonic epistemology


    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    From the ‘early’ work of authors such as McLuhan and Attali through to contemporary work in sound studies, what is now called sonic thought is characterised by an attempt to think through or with sound rather than about sound. Where thinking about sound is understood to indicate transcendence, thinking through sound indicates immanence. This paper takes a critical approach to sonic thinking and the particular form of immanence it entails. It is argued that aspects of sonic thinking follow in the steps of New Materialism’s tendency to sidestep epistemological complications towards attainment of an immanent ontology.

    Through discussion of both the research and immersive compositional practice of Marianne Amacher it is argued that a dominant form of sonic thought which eschews theories of representation and methodological abstraction in favour of a material phenomenology is ultimately counterproductive. Taking Amacher’s work as an example, it is claimed that sonic thought in practice is frequently more nuanced and complex than an idealised form of sonic thinking in theory and that the former readily deploys forms of representation, methodological abstraction and a stratified conception of immanence that are nominally rejected by the latter.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020
    EventMethodologies of Sonic Thinking: between Artistic Research and Phenomenology - Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy., Prague, Czech Republic
    Duration: 23 Nov 202025 Nov 2020


    ConferenceMethodologies of Sonic Thinking
    Abbreviated titleMethodologies of Sonic Thinking
    Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
    Internet address


    • Psycho-acoustics
    • Maryanne Amacher
    • Synthesis
    • Electronic Music
    • Gille Deleuze
    • Epistemology


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