Sound Machines Conference

12 03 2009 – 14 04 2009

Sound Machines between Experiments and Media Technology

Since the 18th century new principles and phenomena of sound production have been discovered more or less randomly. They were the side effects of scientifc laboratory experiments which went on to be developed into musical instruments. A vast range of acoustic media technology, apparatuses and musical instruments emerge from experimental sciences; these innovations are of central importance for the electroacoustic aesthetics of the 20th century.

Through the exchange between experimental design and musical instruments, the question of technical, mechanical aspects moved to the foreground, once the research into the invention of acoustic effects materialised in the form of the first sound machines. The laboratory phenomena produced new forms of acoustic art and revealed that their potential was far from being fully realized.

The conference explores the conceptual and scientifc-historical context of sound machines, the transition from physical and physiological experiments to media technology, tackling both technical and aesthetic aspects: sound machines not only form the technological conditions of a new musical aesthetic but they also create a vast range of inspiring innovations in media, some of which remain effective for decades, forming new interfaces for experimental culture.

In this respect, cultural practices such as acquiring and misappropriating, tinkering and experimenting with sound effects, are inextricably connected to the development of sound machines. Borders between traditional felds become more porous, creating a transitory space between the history of science, music and media, in which the main categories of acoustic, musical and media knowledge stand at one‘s disposal to be reformulated. This circumstance, based on an expanding spectrum of sound art, also displays for instance the standardisation of musical parameters, the synthetic treatment of the human voice or sound mechanical space constructions.

The conference „Sound Machines between Experiments and Media Technology“ explores the inspiring, notional-mechanical contexts from which new forms of sound art emerge.

Concept: Dr. Daniel Gethmann