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Sonic FluxSound, Art, and Metaphysics$
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Christoph Cox

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226543031

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226543208.001.0001

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The Symbolic and the Real

The Symbolic and the Real

Phonography from Music to Sound

(p.76) 3 The Symbolic and the Real
Sonic Flux

Christoph Cox

University of Chicago Press

This chapter extends the analysis of the previous chapter, focusing on the ways that phonography challenges humanist and idealist conceptions of sonic production, meaning, and listening. Developing Friedrich Kittler’s argument that sound recording provides access to “the real,” the chapter counters Roland Barthes’s canonical semiotic account of listening with a materialist philosophical, biological, and technological argument that naturalizes the human production and reception of sound, placing it on par with mechanical production and recording. The chapter explores this argument through an analysis of key works by Alvin Lucier, who is shown to be a deeply materialist, realist, and naturalist composer and sound artist.

Keywords:   phonography, the symbolic, the real, hearing, listening, Friedrich Kittler, Roland Barthes, Alvin Lucier, sound recording, materialism

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