Wolfgang Ernst – Sonic Time Machines: Explicit Sound, Sirenic Voices, and Implicit Sonicity


Amsterdam University Press, ISBN-13: 978-9089649492, English, 184 pages,2016, The Netherlands

Time and sound have an indissoluble relationship, one analysed in disciplines related to acoustics, music and media. Wolfgang Ernst has conceived a different approach to this relationship, with a few recurring elements. One is sonicity, whose definition includes “oscillatory events” or “sonic knowledge implicit within instruments of sound analysis” and at the same time “graphically or mathematically derived sound” or “their mathematically reverse equivalent”. Recursively, Ernst defines sonics as “not originating from physically resonant bodies, but from electro-technical and techno-mathematicalprocesses”. Ernst, who is also the author of Chronopoetics and Digital Memory and the Archive, is inspired by how Marshall McLuhan defines the ‘acoustic space’, reinforcing the essentiality of time in contemporary media. He looks at the technics of media archaeology, such as with thePhonovision, a technology that recorded images onto gramophone records in the 1920s. Throughout the whole book Ernst addresses the “temporal processuality” that sounds and media structurally share. Written in Ernst’s trademark eclectic style, the book is divided into three parts, respectively focusing on the concept and definition of sonicity, on the technological nature of sonic media, and finally on the technical temporal dimension in audio.