[ISEA2011] Panel: Thomas Zum­mer – pros­thet­ics, aes­thet­ics, thet­ics: the in­ter­ces­sions of sound, tech­nics and bod­ies

Panel Statement

Panel: The Matter with Media

There is some­thing that hap­pens in the very mo­ment of a ‘live’ ut­ter­ance—that is to say an ut­ter­ance that is si­mul­ta­ne­ously per­formed and trans­mit­ted—that is often over­looked, in­vis­i­ble, and, in a strange sense, in­audi­ble. When one speaks, as Bernard Stiegler and Jacques Der­rida have ex­plored, as a philoso­pher, for ex­am­ple, or an artist, a politi­cian or a cit­i­zen, into a mi­cro­phone at­tached to a record­ing/trans­mit­ting ap­pa­ra­tus, one’s words, in the very mo­ment of their pro­duc­tion, are swept away from their locus—the body out of which they issue—to ap­pear else­where. It is the na­ture of this con­joined dis­ap­pear­ance/ap­pear­ance of the au­di­ble trace that this paper will in­ves­ti­gate. How is it that, in the mo­ment of its pro­duc­tion, a voice, al­ready a re­pro­duc­tion, be­comes an ar­ti­fact that must be (re)as­signed to a reg­is­ter of sense, a com­mu­nity of mean­ing, a ma­te­r­ial body? Es­pe­cially when the ar­ti­fac­tual ap­pear­ance of such a trace is plural, mas­sive, and dis­trib­uted? What one might say may be in­ter­preted, de­ployed, de­cried, and pos­sessed in a va­ri­ety of ways, with im­me­di­ate, con­tradis­tinct, and con­test­ing claims and in­ter­ests, draw­ing upon—or man­u­fac­tur­ing— the au­thor­ity of a cer­tain event, per­son, con­text or trace. How is it that such con­di­tions as cul­pa­bil­ity, sin­cer­ity, de­ceit, truth, or re­spon­si­bil­ity are reat­tached, via such au­di­ble ar­ti­facts, to sources which are nei­ther di­rect nor un­prob­lem­atic sites? And with what con­se­quences? This pre­sen­ta­tion will ad­dress the ma­te­r­ial as­pects of sound ar­ti­facts as ev­i­dence: sci­en­tific, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, artis­tic. Among the var­i­ous as­pects of tech­ni­cally re­pro­duced sound as ev­i­den­tiary trace that will be ad­dressed are: the cin­e­matic hors-cadre or off-screen sound; au­dial spec­tral­ity (e,g., haunt­ings, pos­ses­sions, ‘phone calls from the dead’); so­cial media, audio en­vi­ron­ments, music and aes­thetic sound­work.

  • Thomas Zum­mer, is an artist and lec­turer at the Tyler School of Art (US) and a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor in crit­i­cal stud­ies in the Trans­me­dia Pro­gramme at the Hogeschool Sint Lukas, Brus­sels (B), as well as vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at the Eu­ro­pean Grad­u­ate School in Saas-Fee (CH). Thomas Zum­mer is an in­ter­na­tion­ally aclaimed in­de­pen­dent scholar and writer, as well as being an artist and cu­ra­tor. As an artist he has ex­hib­ited in­ter­na­tion­ally since 1976, in­clud­ing at Exit Art, Thread Wax­ing Space, and The Dia Foun­da­tion in New York City as well as at the CAPC in Bor­deaux and Wig­more Hall in Lon­don. With his wife, they have had a long col­lab­o­ra­tion as well with The Wooster Group, act­ing in many of their per­for­mances. Most re­cently, Zum­mer was artist in res­i­dence at the hau­den­schildGarage in La Jolla, Cal­i­for­nia. In 1995 Thomas Zum­mer won 5th Prize in the ACA/CODA Ar­chi­tec­tural De­sign Com­pe­ti­tion for the City of At­lanta for the 1996 Olympics.