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Haunted by the Glitch: Technological Malfunction - Critiquing the Media of Innovation

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This essay provides a model of how to critically read non-representational sound by attending carefully to its material elements. It presents a novel conceptualization of glitch music, an experimental medium of digital art comprised of the unpleasant sounds of technology malfunctioning. The analysis examines the representative songs of glitch artists Oval and their sonic articulation of the regenerative possibilities of failure. Although Oval largely considers conventional musical form to be tyrannical, its sound art simulates traditional musical elements such as rhythm, phrasing, and instrumentation, and transforms them into their respective glitch equivalents of metrical dissonance, repeated sound textures, and timbral experimentation, thereby altering digital malfunctions of sound into a sensual affective experience. Although music is theorized elsewhere to be persuasive because of its mobilization of emotions within the listener, the glitch art of Oval is suasory because it generates affective intensities that operate at an intercorporeal level of matter-energy. The songs of Oval update the modern directive of the Futurist sound movement to train the listener to accept a life surrounded by the sound of digital technology.
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An exploration of the production, transmission, and mutation of affective tonality--when sound helps produce a bad vibe. © 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
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This book explores the trend of retro and nostalgia within contemporary popular music culture.Using empirical evidence obtained from a case study of fans’ engagement with older music, the book argues that retro culture is the result of an inseparable mix of cultural and technological changes, namely, the rise of a new generation and cultural mood along with the encouragement of new technologies. Retro culture has become a hot topic in recent years but this is the first time the subject has been explored from an academic perspective and from the fans’ perspective.As such, this book promises to provide concrete answers about why retro culture dominates in contemporary society. For the first time ever, this book provides an empirically grounded theory of popular music, retro culture and its intergenerational audience in the twenty-first century. It will appeal to advanced students of popular music studies, cultural studies, media studies, sociology and music.
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The horror genre is in large part defined by a distinctive use of sound, which facilitates the effects by which it is defined. The genre is unique in its creative deployment of sound to activate and intensify dread and shock, and to launch what Peter Hutchings describes as ‘comprehensive assaults upon the senses’. This assaultive use of sound is central to the genre’s characteristic provocation of feelings of entrapment and peril, for, unlike the image, sound resists the viewer’s attempts at momentary escape. The recent supernatural horror film Sinister (Derrickson, 2012) powerfully illustrates the complex associations between sound and image upon which the horror genre relies to conjure its effects. Much of the thematic and aesthetic intensity of Sinister emerges from deeply unsettling interactions between sound and image created by the ambiguous layering of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. Echoing earlier haunted media films such as The Ring (Verbinski, 2002), Derrickson’s film revolves around Super 8 film reels that house a malevolent supernatural being. This article examines the augmentation of analogue aesthetics in Sinister, and argues that sound is central to the film’s simultaneous evocation and troubling of Super 8’s conventional nostalgic connotations. To achieve this, Derrickson pairs macabre Super 8 imagery with the eerie sounds of hauntology, a form of experimental electronic music that emerged around the turn of the millennium and takes troubled nostalgia as its core theme. The hauntological soundscape of Sinister accompanies the Super 8 footage not only to enhance the sonic textures of technological obsolescence, but to incite conflicted feelings of nostalgia-gone-wrong. As a result, the soundscape of Sinister not only foments the film's most potent affects, but develops much of its subtext.
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This article interrogates some of the themes that have been noted in the critical reception of the musical movement that has been dubbed “hauntology.” In particular, it focuses on a specifically British strain of hauntology—largely concentrating on the record label Ghost Box—and explores the network of associations referenced by the artists involved. The author argues that Ghost Box and related artists reflect on issues such as collecting and heritage, claiming that they are engaged in a form of alternative heritage. Further, he argues that they engage with the uncanny nature of media technologies, particularly the sense in which current digital technologies can be considered as haunted by their analogue counterparts. Finally, he suggests that critics have tended to steer away from exploring issues such as nostalgia and pastiche within the work of such artists due to their rather negative connotations; yet these concepts are crucial to the strategies of many hauntological artists.
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