Sonic Research in Academia and the Arts | Conference Abstracts

Sounding the posthuman attitude — a historico-aesthetical analysis of onto-epistemological perspectives in contemporary sonic arts 

In the recent years works of sonic art have increasingly engaged with the notion of the posthuman: Environmental sound art; artificial intelligence in musical composition; infra- and ultrasound in electronic music and sound installations; posthuman theory in sound art conceptualisation. However, the present proposal claims, that we have always been posthuman. This has manifested in various ways throughout history, and must therefore to be understood as an attitude. The posthuman attitude engages with and seeks beyond limits of human perception, cognition and knowledge. This attitude, I suggest, is to be found in contemporary as well as in historical works of sonic arts. The original contribution to knowledge of this project is to bring new perspectives into the research fields of posthuman theory and sound studies by asking: How does the posthuman attitude manifest in the sonic arts? How do we foster an adequate theory of the posthuman in the sonic arts? And what knowledge can be derived from a specifically sonic artistic attitude towards the posthuman?

IDA HAVUKAINEN (University of Eastern Finland)
Positions of the body in singing teaching 

In this study I take a closer look to the Finnish singing education system and its conventions in how to handle with a body learning to sing. My study leans on phenomenological theory of the human being, which emphasizes the idea of human being as a form consisted of mind, physical body, and a situation in which it exists. I use the term body in a sense that every human being consists of these components, and that no other component is any lesser than other. In todays world, however, mind plays the most important role in teaching and goes with music and singing teaching too. The bodily sensations - for example, how does my chest feel or how does my breathing feel - are quite foreign to those, who don't listen to their bodies and instead listen only to their thoughts trying to make sense of everything in a way, that the experiences one has, could be verbalized as quickly as possible. 
The idea for this study emerges from my own background as a singing student and a singing teacher. Therefore, I have chosen to use autoethnographical methods alongside more traditional ethnographic methods in this study. To accompany this autoethnographical data I have comprised some interview-based data with other singing teachers and an enquiry data about experiences of learning to sing. The analysis of the data shows that there are two main types of teaching singing. These types I have named as a body-based teaching style and a voice-based teaching style. In my study I discuss these styles and their relation to other music education philosophies and the current state of music education in the field. 

Designing sounds for a children's hospital

Contemplative listening is the most crucial skill and fundamental method when designing sounds for specific environments. It is essential to know the ingredients and understand the behaviour of the soundscape in question, and especially when using generative methods in (re)constructing or (re)creating a soundscape this cannot be fully achieved without listening for an extended period of time. Furthermore, soundscapes and aural interiors can be listened to in a reduced way as they were ambient music.

In this talk I will introduce an actual large-scale interior sound design project in order to delineate the characteristics of sound as an element, material and subject of discussion in a bigger planning context. A new hospital for children in Helsinki, Finland was completed and taken into use in 2018. Aside from patient rooms and facilities for medical operations, large areas of this hospital are being equipped with loudspeakers. The loudspeakers are used to play a generative ambient soundscape specially designed and tailored for the hospital. While going through the project, I will concentrate on the importance of listening within the design process and evaluation of the outcomes rather than going deeply into technical details or administrative issues.

HETA KAISTO (Aalto University, Department of Art)
Siren and the Imperfect Songs of Disaster

I am a writer, curator and singer-songwriter from Helsinki, Finland. In my research, "in Resonance, for - Writing towards the Disaster" I explore through the concept of disaster and resonance the boundaries of writing and thinking in philosophy. How to deal with an experience that is outside the possibilities of rational meaning-making?

With the help of writers that have pushed the boundaries of fact and fiction such as Maurice Blanchot and PJ Harvey, I try to write towards a limit experience of a disaster. My position is one of a theorist/artist: at the same time exploring the poiesis of making and the poetics of it. In my research sound acts as a material, a relation and a method. This includes for example archival interview material on Finnish civil war, listening as a method, and a voice as singularity disrupting the unity and neutral tone of the ideal discourse of philosophy. In the seminar I will focus on the latter: the possibilities of a voice to convey thinking of a disaster and what it could mean for me as a theorist/artist. I will base my talk on the essay "The Song of the Sirens" by Maurice Blanchot.

The Rest is Music. Genesis and Real-Aesthetic Interpretation of the Oeuvre of Alvin Lucier

As one of the most important representatives of American music of the second half of the twentieth century, Alvin Lucier's pioneering work is most notable for making what is normally inaudible audible, but also for his very idiosyncratic way of making the audible visible or spatially tangible. His experimental compositions are aesthetic reflections that are constantly making reference to the phenomenology of sound, as well as to the perception of perception itself. What especially continues to stand out here is the consistency of the minimal aesthetic, with which he listens to the openness of the idea inherent to the site itself, far beyond the romanticism of classical art and conventional music. "It seems to me that the most interesting changes are small ones, slight subtile changes. [...] Trying to get the maximum information out of the least contrast." (Lucier, 1995) Oriented towards Lucier's compositional development and by means of the real, the live-electronic compositions of the 60s and 70s as well as the instrumental pieces from 1982 to the present are analyzed and historically contextualized on the basis of some examples.

Heterosemiosis and Intermedial Aspects in Peter Ablinger's Voices and Piano Cycle

This paper approaches Peter Ablinger's Voices and Piano Cycle from a semiotic perspective by applying the notion of heterosemiosis as introduced by Juan Miguel González Martínez (2007) and Elisabeth El Refaie (2014) in the fields of vocal music and graphic narrative respectively. I argue that Ablinger's Voices and Piano might be analysed as the superposition and cross-interaction of different semiotic systems, and that the notion of heterosemiosis might be further developed in order to elucidate the trans- and intermedial aspects of other works by Ablinger in other format configurations. A brief exposition of the theoretical framework and current state of the notion of heterosemiosis is followed by a comparative analysis of excerpts from Ablinger's Voices and Piano Cycle.

Keywords: heterosemiosis; heteroglossia; musical analysis; vocal composition; phonological analysis; phonological analysis