Frances Dyson – Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture


University of California Press, 2009, English, ISBN-13: 978-0520258990, U.S.A.
The most obvious link between sound and new media is that both are immaterial. Obviously there’s more, especially through combination. Frances Dyson goes well beyond this point, adopting an interesting and original strategy: she argues that new media represents an “accumulation of the auditive technologies of the past.” Specifically, she methodically examines different paradigms: the telephone and its modalities of transmitting information and evoking a presence is then the conceptual model for “immersion”; the objectification of sound as vibration, theorized by Pierre Schaeffer is now intended as a unifying informative “noise”; the notions of “silence” evolved inside transcendental and then virtual spaces; the early experiments of spatialization of sounds and their consequent “living” nature inside the real space were perceived as virtual “living organisms”. And finally the electro-magnetic waves that used to transport the sound all over and now are channeling huge volumes of data. On one hand the author is tracking concepts back in time, connecting what has been properly discussed and experimented on since the sixties in the audio domain as a necessary reference point for understanding the present. On the other side she gradually and systematically enriches the investigation of sound art, intersecting theories and practices (as she does analytically with the Canadian sound artist Catherine Richards). “Aurality” can be considered, then, a concept not relating to a single domain anymore, but a new landmark for new media studies.