James Lavender – Bodies of Sound

Event date: 29 October 2011 
King’s Anatomy Theatre & Museum, 
6th Floor, King’s Building
King’s College London, 
Strand Campus, 
London, WC2R 2LS



Rhythm and Event

James Lavender (University of Leeds):
Bodies of Sound: Towards an Immanent Sonic OntologyThis paper begins by affirming that the Spinozist edict ‘we do not know what a body can do’ is a vital premise for understanding the creative force of contemporary electronic music. However, if we take Spinoza’s ‘body’ to simply mean a human body (of the listener or musician, for example) then the true impact of the innovations in electronic music over the last twenty years remains opaque to us. It is only by thinking the bodies of sound itself that we can evade the residual idealism of music-as-communication; an idealism would co-opt the profound inhumanity of techno-aesthetic acceleration central to both dance musics and art-music experimentalism. In opposition to a moralising dichotomy of radical and reactionary, an immanent ontology of discontinuous vibrational bodies would open up a new perspective on these diverse but interrelated elements of sonic culture. My conceptualisation of a sonic body will advance initially through a retooling of the notion of rhythm, deploying it as a synthetic model of achieved consistency rather than simply a metric principle of pulsed time. My paper ultimately aims to construct a model of non-linear ‘texturhythm’ from a populous and dynamic ‘ecology of speeds’ (Goodman), machining an a-chronological temporality from sine waves and broken beats, synth stabs and bass drones.James Lavender is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. His research utilizes recent work in post-continental materialism and realism to develop a synthetic and speculative perspective on digital musics and sonic culture.


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