Sonic Labor in the Capitalocene

Holger Schulze:
Sonic Labor in the Capitalocene.
Sound Design between the Silencing Dispositive and a Panacoustic Society

RMIT Melbourne


4:00 – 5:30pm


In the 21st century the soundscapes of our everyday lives in pervasively mediatized, globalized, networked and commodified societies of the “Capitalocene” (Moore) or of “Neurocapitalism” (Neidich) are crafted by a sonic workforce of freelancers in project-based employment and of employees in corporate design divisions.

This “Sonic Labor” emerged only more recently, in the last decades, as a genuine offspring of creative labor. As a specimen of labor it relies though mainly on the specifically constituting elements of the sound design-profession. The historical ramifications of this sonic labor can therefore be found in (a) a “Silencing Dispositive” of physical acoustics, (b) a genuine “Economy of Sound”, and (c) the global development of a “Panacoustic Society”.

The talk will introduce this interpretation of contemporary sonic labor, drawing from empirical research at the Sound Studies Lab in a project funded by the German National Research Foundation DFG between 2011-2014, at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.