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Revisiting site-related sonic practices

Palmer (nee Reiser), Michaela



Aims of site-related sonic practices are often opposed to those within mainstream sound production. This paper argues that whilst largely living within places of constructed spatial/sonic homogeneity, site-related sonic practices are culturally important as they allow for a re-evaluation of individual experience of sound and space, and call for new means of sharing this experience via accessible tools (open source applications, communal mapping, etc). This is based on a qualitative study, situated between electro- acoustic music composition and data sonification, which aimed to reveal the compositional processes applied by those who utilize sonic qualities of specific spaces for creative outputs. Analysis of practitioners' statements about the sites they composed for revealed underlying compositional aims, ranging, for example, from a search for authenticity in site-specific representation to setting up a shared witnessing of sonic phenomena. These concerns resonate with writings of earlier site-specific practitioners (Smithson) and expose shared questions about authenticity, meaning and participation. The paper argues that authenticity in site-specific composition is directly related to our understanding of representation and participation within society. For example, a site is not only a resource from which meaningful sounds can be harvested or a performance site within which these can be spatially deposited, but also in the Deleuzian sense an entity in the process of active self-distinction, bringing with it its own impurities and unpredictable clashes. Heard as such, there is no noise (Truax), and each everyday sound in its location carries with it a political meaning. Thus unhinged from representation (Schaeffer), site-related sonic practices can stimulate social debate.


Palmer (nee Reiser), M. (2017, November). Revisiting site-related sonic practices. Paper presented at Sounding Out the Space

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Sounding Out the Space
Start Date Nov 2, 2017
End Date Nov 4, 2017
Acceptance Date Nov 4, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords site-specific composition, site-related composition, Sonic Art
Related Public URLs
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Sounding Out the Space