Field research, critical analysis & sonic artifacts

Research in the Sound Studies Lab is not limited to a finite methodology. Doing research in the field of sound and sensory cultures requires an open and case-oriented set of agile and plastic heuristic strategies. These strategies are based on the most advanced theoretical, aesthetical and artistical developments in the fields of cultural studies and cultural anthropology, media studies and media arts, literary studies and sound & sensory arts.

Three core heuristics are mainly used in our research: these heuristics integrate hearing and senseing, experiencing and conceptualization as basic forms of methodology. They are open to new additions, innovations and expansions:


I. Field research

Listening to and experiencing everyday life in popular cultures

In field research the researchers of the Sound Studies Lab take their time: in accordance with the strategies of media anthropology and mobile ethnography they live for a rather extensive but limited time within the sonic & sensory environment in question.

The researchers take part in the sound and sensory practices in questions to acquire an experiential, implicit knowledge of this specific auditory dispositive (Großmann) and its audile techniques (Sterne). For artistic and design research this is one of the main activities in exploring the nature and culture of a specific sonic environment.

The research question is: How can the specific sonic and sensory environment or the auditory and perceptual dispositive in question be described in all its subtlety and erratic nature? This research strategy is based on the works of Karin Bijsterveld, Michael Bull and Jonathan Sterne.


II. Critical analysis

Investigating the archive of theory, epistemology & aesthetics

In critical analysis the researchers of the Sound Studies Lab take theoretical hypotheses on speaking and conceptualizing sonic and sensory environments and question them by means of theoretical and historical critique.

The researchers investigate the broad archive of theory, epistemology and aesthetics on sonic experience and sensorial techniques. They analyze the sociological, political, technological, the aesthetical, psychological, cultural and historical ramifications and repercussions of a sound concept in question. Cultural history and historical anthropology of the senses are the main references.

The research question is: How can a certain contemporary or historical terminological or theoretical approach to a phenomenon of sound culture (historical or contemporary) contribute to a more adequate understanding of this phenomenon in question? This research strategy is based on the works of Régis Debray, Veit Erlmann and Klaus Theweleit.


III. Sonic artifacts

Imagining, conceiving & exploring new sensory artifacts

In sonic artifacts the researchers of the Sound Studies Lab take their experiential and their epistemological knowledge to conceptualize and
to build new sonic fictions and new sensory artifacts.

The researchers engage in artistic and design processes to test and explore the potential of their research in an intense reality check in accordance with current research strands of design research. Sonic artifacts can be the most daring, most provoking and publicly most audible outcome of a research project.

The research question is: How can a new sonic fiction or a new sensory artifact generate either highly adequate or surprisingly irritating ways of listening and sounding in a specific sonic and sensory environment? This research strategy is based on the works of Kodwo Eshun, Jean-Luc Nancy and Michel Serres.



Sound Studies Lab (2012)



Bijsterveld, Karin & Pinch, Trevor (2011): Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. Oxford University Press New York.
Bull, Michael (2007): Sound Moves. iPod Culture and Urban Experience. Routledge London.
Debray, Régis (2000): Introduction à la médiologie. Presses Universitaires de France Paris.
Erlmann, Veit (2010); Reason and Resonance. A History of Modern Aurality. Zone Books New York.
Eshun, Kodwo (1998): More Brilliant Than The Sun. Adventures in Sonic Fiction. Quartet Books London.
Großmann, Rolf (2008): Verschlafener Medienwandel. Das Dispositiv als musikwissenschaftliches Theoriemodell, in: Positionen – Beiträge zur aktuellen Musik, Ausgabe 74 – Dispositiv(e), pp.6-9.
Nancy, J.-L. (1992/2000): Corpus. Editions Métailié Paris.
Serres, Michel (1985): Philosophie des corps mêlés: Les Cinq Sens. Éditions Gallimard Paris.
Sterne, Jonathan (2003): The Audible Past. Duke University Press Durham & London.
Theweleit, Klaus (2007): Übertragung. Gegenübertragung. Dritter Körper. Zur Gehirnveränderung durch die Medien − International Flusser Lecture, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König Köln.

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