CONVOCATORIA: Noise conference

“Bigger than Words, Wider than Pictures”: Noise, Affect, Politics

“Bigger than Words, Wider than Pictures”: Noise, Affect, Politics

University of Salford and Islington Mill, July 1-3 2010
Organising Committee:
Dr Michael Goddard, Dr Benjamin Halligan and Professor David Sanjek

“If there are people that are dumb enough to use Metallica to interrogate prisoners, you’re forgetting about all the music that’s to the left of us. I can name 30 Norwegian death metal bands that would make Metallica sound like Simon and Garfunkel.” – Lars Ulrich

“… this music can put a human being in a trance like state and deprive it of the sneaking feeling of existing, ‘cos music is bigger than words and wider than pictures… if the stars had a sound it would sound like this.” – Mogwai, “Yes! I Am a Long Way from Home”

Noise Annoys. Is it not a banal fact of modern, urban existence that one person’s preferred sonic environment is another’s irritating, unwelcome noise – whether in the high-rise apartment, on public transport or the street, or almost anywhere else? The contingent soundscape of jack-hammers and pneumatic drills, mobile phone chatter, car sirens and alarms, sound leakage from nightclubs and bars and – moving into the suburbs – lawn-mowers and amateur renovation projects, neighbouring kids and dogs, represents a near-constant aural assault. As a pollutant, noise can legally attain noxious levels; it is both potentially biologically harmful and psychologically detrimental.

But what exactly is noise and what conditions these relative thresholds in which sound crosses over into noise? Or are these more organised and polite sonic phenomena merely varieties of noise that have been tamed and civilised, and yet still contain kernels of the chaotic, anomalous disturbance of primordial noise? As a radical free agent, how is noise channelled, neutralised or enhanced in emergent cityscapes? As a consumable, how is noise – or lack of noise – commodified?

Such questions are particularly applicable to contemporary forms of music which, based as they are on a variety of noise-making technical machines, necessarily exist in the interface between chaotic, unpredictable noise and the organised and blended sounds of music and speech. Does modern noise seek to lead us to new, post-secular inscapes (as with psychedelia and shoegazer), or defy the lulling noisescapes of processed background muzak with punitive blasts of disorientating, disorderly noise? And why the cult of noise – in term of both volume and dissonance – in which low cultural practices (metal, moshing) meet those of the avant-garde (atonalism, transcendentalism)?

This conference seeks to address the contemporary phenomenon of noise in all its dimensions: cultural, political, territorial, philosophical, physiological, subversive and military, and as anomalous to sound, speech, musicality and information. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

* Psychedelic and Neo-Psychedelic Musics
* Punk and Post-Punk Musics
* Experimental Musics from Avant-Classical to Digital Noise / Raw Data
* Industrial Musics and Cultures
* Krautrock and German Noise
* Shoegazer, Nu-Gaze and Post-Rock
* Noise as Cultural Anomaly
* Noise, Chaos and Order
* Noise and architectural planning
* Noise and digital compression
* Noise Scenes from No Wave to Japan-Noise
* Noise and electronic music pioneers (Delia Derbyshire, Varèse, Stockhausen)
* Noise and Territory
* Sonic Warfare
* Noise and Urban Environments / “Noise pollution”
* Noise and Subjectivation
* Sonic Ecologies
* “White Noise”
* Noise and Political Subversion
* Noise and hearing impairment / deafness
* Psychic / silent noise
* Noise and mixing, particularly in nightclub environments
* Noise in Cinema, Video and Sound Art
* Noise, Appropriation and Recombination
* Noise and Affect

The conference will be organised by the Centre for Communication, Cultural and Media Studies at the University of Salford in cooperation with Islington Mill, Salford and will take place from the 1-3rd of July and will include both an academic conference and noise gigs featuring amongst other groups, The Telescopes and Factory Star and other special guests tbc. Confirmed keynote speakers include rock historian Clinton Heylin, author of From the Velvets to the Voidoids and numerous other works on (post)punk and popular music, Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes, and Paul Hegarty, author of the recent Noise/Music.

In addition to conventional papers, noise, sound and video art proposals are also welcome.

To participate in the conference please send a 400 word abstract and biographical note to Michael Goddard, and Benjamin Halligan, by 28 February 2010.

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