Vibrating the Web: Sonospheric Studies of Media Infrastructure Ecologies

Vibrating the Web: Sonospheric Studies of Media Infrastructure Ecologies

PhD Research Degree

Matt Parker

Completed 2018

How can the relationship between media infrastructures and the economies of noise foster the development of a sonospheric art practice? Media infrastructures are the material backbone of the Internet. Such sites underpin the digitally hyperconnected world, but as material assemblages are also imbricated in complex and divisive ecological, environmental, economic and affective practices. This thesis identifies a lack of sonic discourse within the body of growing critical art practice researching the field of media infrastructures, and will contribute to the field of sound studies by arguing, and defining a methodology, for listening sonospherically (Oliveros, 2011). Through six original artistic projects researching the presence of media infrastructures, the thesis will argue for the ‘sonospheric investigation’ as a methodology to engage in the politics of such divisive spaces. Vibrant, multisensory, and multimodal, the sonospheric investigation will be demonstrated as a novel approach for field-based research of spatial and technologically mediated environments. Each original artistic project develops what I call the ‘sonopalette’, a toolkit of field research methods which reveal the being of sounds, vibrations, noises and affective vibratory impulses. These methods include – but are not exhaustive of – field recording, oral history interviews, documentary filmmaking, deep listening, vibration sensors, electromagnetic sensors, data scraping and machine learning. A sonospheric engagement with space and place can generate new connections between human, nonhuman and nonorganic bodies that further our understanding of the conditions of the Anthropocene. Working with the scholarly critique of theorists, research by artists, and my own original practice, the thesis will demonstrate that the mixed registers of a sonospheric investigation are a generative area of research for sound studies scholars, artists, and spatial practitioners concerned with the localised impact of global digital material culture.


A digital copy of this thesis is available from the UAL Research Online repository. A hard copy is also available at the LCC Library as a reference holding, visitors can arrange access to the Library by appointment.

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