Salomé Voegelin – The Political Possibility of Sound


Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN-13: 978-1501312168, English, 216 pages, 2018, UK

Voegelin is a prolific author, and this book stems from her previous ‘Listening to Noise and Silence’ and ‘Sonic Possible Worlds’, both of which significantly contributed to the sound art discourse by opening possible interpretations and possibilities for the soundscape. This book is more adventurous than the previous ones. It is composed of seven essays. These may be read sequentially but they are also designed to be read out of order within their own structure. Each essay has a ‘contingent’ quality, and each discusses specific referential artworks. They focus on key areas where sound can intervene, including architecture, geography, and trans and feminist identity, but they all frame the main argument: that there are unspoken possibilities to use sound in art to produce and evoke political concepts. They scan many possible sound environments, including the use of words in poetry and the conceptual strength that they can produce altogether. The central essay has a different form, a performative ‘score-essay’: it is made of instructions to “listen, do and read the material and ideas that shape its research”. In the whole book there’s an abundance of ideas, which the reader can possibly embrace, like the inaudible becoming a “sociopolitical horizon”, using new sonic materialism to create “a place of pure possibility”.