RESEARCH: papers, conference presentations, books, residencies

Becoming Noise: Unwanted Sounds From Helmholtz To Hegarty

Conference presentation

ISSTC 2012, the annual convocation of the Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association, Cork, Ireland. 1-2 August 2012.


This paper presents over a dozen capsule definitions of noise, taken from the domains of acoustics, information theory, politics, sociology, and philosophy. These will be illustrated by reference to Attali, Cage, Cascone, Derrida, Hegarty, Helmholtz, Kahn, Schafer, Schwarz, and Virilio. This surplus of definitions will be used as justification for reconsidering noise, not as a noun, but as verb, a process that mediates between something we think we know and would like to approach ("music" perhaps) and something we don't know and wish to avoid.

Rather than dwell on the pejorative, we might rethink noise as process, a "coming into being", a generative axis without which no sound could exist.