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Sound in everyday life within popular culture

The second workshop of the research network took place in Vienna, and it was also the second of three venues in an art university: the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien.

On friday it all started with a public symposion on the question: In what way could it be meaningful and fruitful to install a program on Sound Studies at an art university? Jochen Bonz started with a reflection on the function of a decidedly heteronomous subjectivity analyzing the article White Light/White Heat: Jouissance Beyond Gender in the Velvet Underground (1999) by Jeremy Gilbert as well as Acoustic Environments in Change (2009) by Helmi Järviluoma and numerous finnish colleagues, a re-study of the seminal Five Villages-study from 1975 (originally by members of the World Soundscape Project). Holger Schulze then presented the basic concept, the syllabus and the central institutional and team-building approaches of the M.A. in Sound Studies that he and numerous colleagues developed and installed at the Universität der Künste Berlin since the year 2000.

A final panel discussion with personnel and guests from the local institution as well as the sound art-scene such as electronic sound and recording artist Franz Pomassl (co-founder of the Austrian Laton experimental techno label and of the Soundstudio at the Academy of the Fine Arts), TONSPUR-curator Georg Weckwerth and sound artist Christina Nemec (a.k.a. Chra) discussed with Diedrich Diederichsen how it could be inspiring and possible to install a Sound Studies-program at this specific art university?


On saturday the closed workshop session took place. Under the titel of Sound in everyday life within popular culture we did start in the morning with a series of 5 very brief (only 10mins!), but provocating presentations and discussions at a roundtable under the title of What kind of Popular can be voiced ; the network-members and guests Thomas Hecken, Diedrich Diederichsen, Carla Müller-Schulzke, Claudia Bullerjahn and Thomas Schopp stirred up truly controversively and lively discussions on the questions: How have notions of the popular been embedded in historically specific discourses? How can a critically informed aesthetic perspective on sound in music and film interrupt received narratives of pop culture? What are the effects of polyphonic listening on received concepts of voice and identity in popular culture? How do the functions of popular music change in relation to the changing formats of production, reception, and dissemination? And finally: If we are losing the popular: What are the consequences of this perspective for the study of sound and music?

In the three separated working groups on the afternoon we discussed specific aspects of popular culture in relation to the Sound Studies and the reference handbook which this research network is working on. The broad plenary discussion on late afternoon showed us how a first complex and disciplinary as well as historically, culturally and methodologically differentiated structure of the handbook could unfold.

At the last day, sunday, as some of us went to the exhibition Hyper Real in the MUMOK we could experience other aspects of popular culture in the fine arts. Or as an artist’s statement in this exhibition said: »I don’t think subject matter should be very important − but it is important.« (unfortunately I do not recall who it was; but if you can help me out, please do so! Thank you.) My personal soundtrack for these days in Vienna was this truly hyperreal-soundproduction by the three Dubstep-heros Benga, Skream and Artwork of Magnetic Man: I Need Air.

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