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Eamonn Bell - Guest Lecture

Date: February 26th, 2020 Venue: MMT Lab, Stack B, Trinity College, Dublin Time:1 pm

Title of lecture: Format fractures in media-focused sound art spanning the analog/digital divide

Image credit Rus Khasanov Destroying Rainbow Books, 2019.

In this talk, which draws on Bell's recent research, Bell surveys modern and contemporary artworks that break, crack, damage or otherwise deliberately reconfigure sound-carrying media, including (but not limited to) phonographs, tape, CD, and compressed audio container files. Examples are drawn from the long twentieth century, and are deliberately chosen to cover the apparent analog-to-digital transition. Drawing on the writing of the sound artist and radio playwright Gregory Whitehead, Bell frames these works as “vulnerological” investigations of the materials of media. Building on Caleb Kelly’s taxonomy of “broken” and “cracked” media (Kelly 2009), and inspired by the cod-clinical characters that populate Whitehead’s radio plays, he introduces the notion of “format fracture” to characterise the basic gesture at the heart of each of these works. This facilitates a distinction between two broad categories of format fracture based on their etiology. Like bone fractures, Bell suggests here that format fractures may be either traumatic (that is, a fracture in the substance of the format arising as a result of an outside force) or pathological (that is, resulting from an endogenous problem with the format or flaw in its design). Artists to be discussed include: Nam June Paik, John Cage, Yasunao Tone, Joan Jonas, Christian Marclay, Nicolas Collins, The Evolution Control Committee, Oval, DISC, Maria Chavez, and Ryan Maguire.

Short biography

Eamonn Bell is a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Music, Trinity College Dublin. His current research project explores how the once-ubiquitous digital audio Compact Disc (CD) format was designed, subverted, reproduced and domesticated for musical ends, and is funded by the Irish Research Council. More generally, his research examines the history of digital technology as it relates to musical production, consumption, and criticism in the twentieth century. He completed his doctoral studies in music theory at Columbia University in May 2019. Eamonn is also a graduate of Trinity College Dublin (TSM Music and Mathematics, 2013)

Rus Khasanov - Destroying Rainbow Books

Destroying Rainbow Books from Rus Khasanov on Vimeo.