Salomé Voegelin – Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound


Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN: 978-1623565091, English, 216 pages, 2014, UK

Sound is unquestionably about space; being present where vibrations are induced, and time; the exact moment when this is happening. But the act of “hearing” is a way more multifaceted activity than being immersed in a concert, involving a number of physical and perceptual manifestations. Salomé Voegelin, describes here, as a continuation in many ways of her previous book “Listening to Noise and Silence”, a practice defined as “textual phonography”, or sounds verbalised not as descriptions but as ‘possibilities.’ The wording of this “invisible layer of the world” is meant to “trigger listening” in order to go below the surface of world’s “visual organisation.” The use of words is as evocative as a notation can be, producing perceptions without any accompanying visual material. The work is a rigorous exploration of ‘soundscapes’, putting a huge number of different nuanced areas under the microscope. This sophisticated ephemerality takes place through five chapters, which researches a number of key dimensions in great detail: the “landscape” as a privileged dimension in which to test a methodology of listening and render its different possibilities textually; the “sound artwork” and the world it creates; the concept of “sonic materialism”; and finally the “continuum of sound”. Voegelin dares to analyse “listening to the inaudible”, venturing into what only our mind can create. It’s a narrative of potentialities, disguised as poetic reality and realised by our mental capabilities.