“Resonating the Fragmented Body: Sound Design in New Media” presented by Lerner


Session Title:

  • Aesthetics of Electro-acoustic and Digital Media

Presentation Title:

  • Resonating the Fragmented Body: Sound Design in New Media



  • Sound the way we listen is subject to so many filtrations. As I speak to you now, you may be focusing on the content of what I am saying. The words. But also, you are contextualizing those words within a host of other signifiers in the intonation of my voice, the space of the electro-acoustic apparatus and the room itself… all of which conforms to what you have come to expect from a conference hall. It is this material conjunction between meaning or content and the productive context that I would like to explore in this paper, in relation to new media production as it pertains to sound design in particular. We keep hearing about content as though it is something that can just be poured into the awaiting technological vessel. The question of content to my ear however, also begs the question of the container This split is just another manifestation of an old divide: hardware/software, technology/creativity etc. Sound, as a resonance of matter in space tends to resist this division between content and container. If I put the sound of my voice into this glass – it becomes a different sound. Digital audio storage and manipulation and the advent of desktop audio production have opened the way for a convergence in the sites of media production and of the formats of distribution – but on the whole, at least as far as audio production is concerned, this has not led to convergent forms of practice. Whilst it is commonly acknowledged that sound plays a crucial role in multimedia design it has received relatively little discussion in the plethora of books and articles in magazines etc. that have been spewed  forth to show us ”How To“. I would like to examine some of the practices currently employed in new media for both sound design and the conceptual production of which it is part, and raise some questions about the baggage those practices carry as well as the baggage that we are dealing with in bringing sound to the screen at all.

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