Douglas Kahn: Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (2013)

15 March 2014, dusan

Earth Sound Earth Signal is a study of energies in aesthetics and the arts, from the birth of modern communications in the nineteenth century to the global transmissions of the present day. Douglas Kahn begins by evoking the Aeolian sphere music that Henry David Thoreau heard blowing along telegraph lines and the Aelectrosonic sounds of natural radio that Thomas Watson heard through the first telephone; he then traces the histories of science, media, music, and the arts to the 1960s and beyond. Earth Sound Earth Signal rethinks energy at a global scale, from brainwaves to outer space, through detailed discussions of musicians, artists and scientists such as Alvin Lucier, Edmond Dewan, Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, James Turrell, Robert Barry, Joyce Hinterding, and many others.”

Publisher University of California Press, 2013
ISBN 0520956834, 9780520956834
343 pages

Reviews: Alessandro Ludovico (Neural, 2013), Christopher Haworth (Organised Sound, 2015), Adam Trainer (Continuum, 2015).

Publisher

PDF (removed on 2014-3-19 upon request of the publisher)

Jonathan Sterne: The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (2003)

19 February 2014, dusan

The Audible Past explores the cultural origins of sound reproduction. It describes a distinctive sound culture that gave birth to the sound recording and the transmission devices so ubiquitous in modern life. With an ear for the unexpected, scholar and musician Jonathan Sterne uses the technological and cultural precursors of telephony, phonography, and radio as an entry point into a history of sound in its own right. Sterne studies the constantly shifting boundary between phenomena organized as “sound” and “not sound.” In The Audible Past, this history crisscrosses the liminal regions between bodies and machines, originals and copies, nature and culture, and life and death.

Blending cultural studies and the history of communication technology, Sterne follows modern sound technologies back through a historical labyrinth. Along the way, he encounters capitalists and inventors, musicians and philosophers, embalmers and grave robbers, doctors and patients, deaf children and their teachers, professionals and hobbyists, folklorists and tribal singers. The Audible Past tracks the connections between the history of sound and the defining features of modernity: from developments in medicine, physics, and philosophy to the tumultuous shifts of industrial capitalism, colonialism, urbanization, modern technology, and the rise of a new middle class.

A provocative history of sound, The Audible Past challenges theoretical commonplaces such as the philosophical privilege of the speaking subject, the visual bias in theories of modernity, and static descriptions of nature. It will interest those in cultural studies, media and communication studies, the new musicology, and the history of technology.”

Publisher Duke University Press, 2003
ISBN 082233013X, 9780822330134
450 pages
via nutzenberg

Review (James P. Kraft, The American Historical Review)
Review (Karin Bijsterveld, Technology and Culture)

Author
Publisher

PDF (low quality scan, no OCR, 40 MB)
EPUB (added on 2014-1-21)

Andreas Killen: Berlin Electropolis: Shock, Nerves, and German Modernity (2006)

29 June 2013, dusan

Berlin Electropolis ties the German discourse on nervousness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to Berlin’s transformation into a capital of the second industrial revolution. Focusing on three key groups—railway personnel, soldiers, and telephone operators—Andreas Killen traces the emergence in the 1880s and then later decline of the belief that modernity caused nervous illness. During this period, Killen explains, Berlin became arguably the most advanced metropolis in Europe. A host of changes, many associated with breakthroughs in technologies of transportation, communication, and leisure, combined to radically alter the shape and tempo of everyday life in Berlin. The resulting consciousness of accelerated social change and the shocks and afflictions that accompanied it found their consummate expression in the discourse about nervousness.”

Wonderfully researched and clearly written, this book offers a wealth of new insights into the nature of the modern metropolis, the psychological aftermath of World War I, and the operations of the German welfare state. Killen also explores cultural attitudes toward electricity, the evolution of psychiatric thought and practice, and the status of women workers in Germany’s rapidly industrializing economy. Ultimately, he argues that the backlash against the welfare state that occurred during the late Weimar Republic brought about the final decoupling of modernity and nervous illness.

Publisher University of California Press, 2006
Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism, Volume 38
ISBN 0520931637, 9780520931633
303 pages

review (Eric J. Engstrom, H-German)
review (Harry Oosterhuis, History of Psychiatry)

Publisher

PDF