Steven Feld: Acoustemic Stratigraphies: Recent Work in Urban Phonography


Acoustemic Stratigraphies: Recent Work in Urban Phonography

This piece derives from an October 2010 presentation at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. In it, Steven Feld introduces three recent soundscape compositions and follows their audition with critical conversation about his work in “acoustemology,” (acoustic epistemology), sound as a way of knowing. The pieces and verbal contextualizations focus on time-space interactions and all of their historical, cultural, mental, material, and mediatized dimensions. The term “acoustemic stratigraphies” is offered to evoke the complexity of peeling back and exposing layers of experiential knowing though sound, of listening as habitus, of the poetics and politics of recording, editing, and auditing. Recorded in Hiroshima, Japan, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Accra, Ghana, the three pieces engage the acoustic mediation of what Feld calls “relational ontologies,” featuring multiple interactions of insects, bells, weather, trucks, amplification, birds, and human vocal and instrumental agencies.

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