ITP Notebook

Video and Sound: Week 1

September 14, 2020

Video and Sound

The Danger of a Single Story

In her The Danger of a Single Story talk, Chimamanda Adichie explains how singular perspectives cause a lack of understanding and empathy between individuals or groups of people. We absorb these “single stories” as we grow, limiting our imagination to what those in power have deemed correct.

It is a moving talk, and a critical message because everyone both consumes and tells stories daily. I found it compelling how she showed the different ways that single stories manifest themselves - they don’t just appear in common stereotypes, but also in the way we consume literature, in how we describe others, and in the way difference is often emphasized instead of similarity. Her examples were effective in exposing the underlying issue without oversimplifying the problem.

As a privileged white cis male, it is vital that I keep this message in mind in everything that I do, that I listen, and that I do what I can to notice and reject the single and prevent the propagation of the stories that I encounter.

A History of Sound Art

I enjoyed experiencing this audio/visual piece. It was not always easy to determine what sounds were what as I followed along with the PDF but I don’t think it was intended to be. It served as a great introduction to the major personalities and themes surrounding sound art.

For me the biggest takeaway — especially after listening to The Danger of a Singe Story — was how western-centric the history is. It wasn’t too surprising, but I couldn’t help but think about what story this was telling and what it might be missing. Though it certainly did not claim to be a definitive history (it’s A History of Sound Art not of The History of Sound Art), I do wonder about what defines ‘sound art’ versus ‘song’ or ‘music’ and about what would be different if recording tools originated somewhere else or became more widespread more quickly.

Sound Collage

And now for something completely different… In my Applications course we were discussing VR and AR, so for my sound collage I had this idea in my head of a space that appears here and there in sci-fi stories: a room that can take the form of any setting (Basically the Holodeck from Star Trek). I used clips found on Freesound to create this “Reality Machine” that tries and fails to construct a natural environment.