Online lecture: A Concept of Impurity. Noise and the Acoustic of the Political – 29.04.2021


In this talk I want to argue for a concept of noise that is located between established theories using the term, be they acoustics, information theory or musicology. Noise should be understood as the difference between these conceptions, or as an ‘original impurity’. This will be demonstrated by the difficulty of translating noise to another language. In German it disintegrates into four terms: Lärm (loud or annoying sound, both a concept used in acoustics and a derogatory term in quotidian discourse), Geräusch (the opposite of musical or meaningful sound in musicology and linguistics), Rauschen (as in white noise, touching both on acoustics, physics in general and the concept of noise in information theory) and Störung (both in the sense of signal disturbance in information theory and of annoyance in everyday sonic environments). The noise-concept I am aiming for lies in the betweenness of these terms, an inter that shows itself in metaphors, blurring and a specific noisiness that – to a degree – affects all theories concerned with noise.

The consequences of this idea will be exemplified based by the acoustics of the political: ?what gets framed as noise in the context of political disagreement and what as a clear message How do acoustic and/or musical metaphors affect ideas of the political? In the context of protests, is it possible to draw lines between law, order and authority on one side and violence, chaos and noise on the other? What are the acoustics of the riot and on which side is noise to be found?

Thursday, April 29th, 5-7 pm GMT or 18:00 – 20:00 CET. Accessible via Microsoft Teams.

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