Vibrating the web: sonospheric studies of media infrastructure ecologies
London College of Communication
Abstract: This practice-based thesis investigates how the relationships between the ecology of media infrastructures and the economy of noise help us to understand a sonospheric art practice. Media infrastructures are the material backbone of the Internet. Such sites underpin the digitally hyper-connected world, but as material assemblages are also imbricated in complex and divisive manufacturing and operational practices.
In conceptualising the economy of noise, Frances Dyson argues that noise crosses multiple registers including environmental, ecological, economic and psychic fields. As a practice-based research project my practice will be situated throughout the thesis, defining a research methodology the author calls sonospheric investigations. Situating practice-based research through media infrastructures, the thesis aims to define how sonospheric investigations are an art practice methodology that uses mixed methods of sensing and recording across the spectrum of noise. The thesis will open by defining the economy of noise and locating it through a review of soundscape studies. It will then consider the economy of media infrastructures as read through media theorists and new materialism. The sonosphere will then be outlined as a mode of thinking across bodies and signals that complement the positions of noise and media infrastructure through an ecological lens.
By reviewing existing art practice centred upon media infrastructure, and contemporary sound works that position the politics of noise around site and space, this thesis will demonstrate a gap within the body of growing critical art practice researching the field of media infrastructures. The multiple registers investigated through a sonospheric art practice could be a fruitful area of investigation for sound studies scholars and sound art practitioners interested in the impact of global digital material culture and the political modes of the economy of noise.
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