Department of Cultural History and Theory
Humboldt University of Berlin
Winter semester 2017-2018
"If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?” (source unknown, perhaps George Berkeley)
Sound is usually defined as the human auditory perception of the frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 KHz. Though in the field of sound studies and sonic arts this definition has been widely challenged and spread out to to include the ranges of the infra and ultra sonic as well as a philosophical understanding of sound as vibratory ontology.
Throughout the course we will develop a rich understanding of sound beyond its traditional definition. Many concrete examples will be discussed and reflected upon in order to reveal its hidden dynamics, forces and aesthetics.
The course will address topics of non-cochlear sound art (Seth Kim-Cohen (2009), “In the Blink of an Ear”), the hidden sounds of nature in the arts (Douglas Kahn (2013), “Earth Sound Earth Signal”), political use of sonic weaponry in warfare and control of society (Steve Goodman (2010), “Sonic Warfare”), environmental pollution through microwaves (Mario de Vega, Víctor Mazón Gardoqui and Daniela Silvestrin (2016) “Limen - Ecologies of Transmission”) and sound as concept of philosophy (Christoph Cox (2005) “Sonic Philosophy”).
Students can choose to do a written paper or an audio paper for their exam. Theoretical as well as practical/artistic experimentations are encouraged.