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Towards a Materialist Conception of Sound as Thing

  • Luc Döbereiner (a1)


This article proposes a conception of sound as the material of artistic experimentation. It centres on a discussion of the nature of sound’s ontological status and aims to contribute to a new understanding of the role of materiality in artistic practices. A central point of discussion is Pierre Schaeffer’s notion of the sound object, which is critically examined. The phenomenological perspective that underlies the concept of the sound object depicts sound as an ideal unity constituted by a subject’s intentionality. Thus, it can barely grasp the physicality of sounds and their production or their reality beyond individual perception. This article aims to challenge the notion of the sound object as a purely perceptual phenomenon while trying to rethink experimentation as a practical form of thought that takes place through interacting with sonorous material. Against the background of recent object-oriented and materialist philosophical theories and by drawing on the Heideggerian concept of the thing and Gilbert Simondon’s theories of perception and individuation, this article strives to outline a conception of sound as a non-symbolic otherness. The proposed idea of thingness revolves around a morphogenetic conception of the becoming of sonorous forms that links their perception to their physicality.


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