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Sound Scripts

Sound Scripts

Article Title

Freezing the Music and Fetishising the Subject: The Audiovisual Dramaturgy of Michel van der Aa

Authors

Paul Thomas

Abstract

When, with our eyes shut we run our hands along a surface, the rubbing of our fingers against the surface, and especially the varied play of our joints, provide a series of sensations, which differ only by their qualities and which exhibit a certain order in time. In this paper, I will explore the sonic relationship of sound to the development of new imaging technologies through Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM). In 2003, UCLA scientist, James Gimzewski, positioned a sensitive instrument called an atomic force microscope over a cell to try to detect its motion and the microscope picked up regular vibrations. These vibrations can be translated to sound files so one can listen to variations on various material structures at an atomic level. Anne Niemetz, a sound artist who worked on the 2004 Nano exhibition, suggests that, “the AFM can be regarded as a new type of musical instrument.” The issues of the relationship of nanotechnology to sound will be clarified through a discussion of my current research on the molecular particles that exist at the point of transition between the skin and gold. The data gathered at an atomic level is investigated to present sonically what is transferred at the point where the materials of skin and gold make contact. The idea of contact is related to the way that the AFM scan the surface of objects not by optics but by touch. The small stylus, ten nanometres at its tip, is analogous to the old record player stylus as it touches the grooves. Working at a molecular level, nano technologies offer new ways of exploring the infinitely small sonically by defying ocular-centrism and constructing sonic maps of new post-perspectival spatialities.

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