Focus On Sound is an anthology of scholarly articles and artist responses to the subject of sound. This one-shot issue features work by independent artists and articles by researchers associated with the University of Amsterdam, Columbia University, Utrecht University, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Goldsmiths, University of London. The magazine features articles on topics as diverse as: the relationship between sound and modernisation in China; decolonial listening practices; aurality and orality in Latin America; the use of radio as social space in Budapest; and much more.
I contributed to the magazine with my article “Voices And Policies Of Exclusion Within German Aslyum Procedures”. My contribution investigates the use of voice recognition technology on the German border, reflecting on the intersections between voices’ datafication and capital, sound and biopolitcs.
The magazine has been printed via riso by Jumbo Press and it’s available for order on https://focusprint.bigcartel.com/product/focus-on-sound
ON DIGITAL IRONY, SINCERITY AND THE RHYTHM WHICH BINDS THE TWO
On Ditial irony, Sincerity and the Rhythm which binds the two is the title of the collaborative project supervised by researcher Abdelrahman Hassan and presented at the DMI Winterschool 2019 in Amsterdam. This was a meditation on digital irony and sincerity in Pro-Life Meme cyberspaces in the post-truth climate, with the aim to develop a methodology for the detection of the motions and the relations between the two.
By relying on the Lefebrvian’s notion of rhythm and the concept coined by Shintaro Miyazaki of “algorythms“, an experimental methodology was develop and then presented in the form of sonic output. The former is about the meditation provided by Henri Lefebvre in his book Rhythmeanalysis on how everyday rhythms in urban spaces reflect and influence social processes, and the bodies inhabiting these spaces. Based on that, we saw in cyberspace also a space where techno-cultural battles were reflected and influenced by rhythm, which became our means to observe how irony was weaponised in Pro-Life Meme groups on Facebook. This idea was also inspired by Shintaro Miyazaki’s work, who identifies in the digital study of rhythm an important analytical tool for studying the techno-cultures of the web.
Miyazaki’s work on Algorhythms has the merit to emphasise the time-boundedness of our computational culture and how this “is not immaterial, but lively, rhythmical, performative, tactile and physical“ (Miyazaki, AlgoRHYTHMS Everywhere). Conceiving algorithms at their deepest, hardware based-level, makes us aware of how “algorhythmic“ processes build our current informational network and computational culture on the basis of “timed and controlled sending, receiving, storing and processing of physical signals – operations which have their specific time effects and rhythms.“ (Miyazaki, Algorhythmics).
In order to make tangible these signals and mechanic rhythms at work on micro levels from the cyberspaces under our analysis, their sonification seemed to be the ideal way to make such phenomena accessible to human senses. In order to do so, by using the tool Netvizz and the Python programming language, the data coinciding with the flow of user’s reactions to the posts published by the two analysed Facebook pages have been scraped and converted into midi clips. Without any manipulation, time series data were converted into a series of midi instructions, constituting a sort of audio sentiment-analysis. As a result, every user’s interaction was turned into a track, and the tracks were overlayed on top of each other to expose the rhythm of emotional interaction on the respective page.
The audio experiment showed how a methodology built around an artistic practice could grasp and made tangible aspects of the algorythms which could not be touched by solely relying on theory. In fact, although the research was conducted by primarily following scientific standards, the use of sound revealed the material nature of algorythms and lively nature of our computational sphere. Far from being conclusive, this research wanted, by looking at the relation between rhythm and a cultural marker as irony, to propose a methodology which could be also transferable to other uses for the study of computational cultures.
Project’s group members: Iskra Ramirez Molina, Beatrice Gobbo, Daniel Leix-Palumbo, Abdelrahman Hassan