RESEARCH: papers, conference presentations, books, residencies

The Sono Prototype and Alberti's Window

Conference presentation

Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship, University of Limerick, Ireland. March 2014.


The Sono is a window-mounted device that proposes to block unwanted sounds from the outside world. The enthusiastic reception to the promotional video demonstrates how powerful this desire is. Historical studies of noise (for example, Making Noise by Schwartz) demonstrate that we have long wished to circumscribe a private space of relaxation and contemplation by denying sounds from the public sphere.

This paper interrogates the Sono in terms of how it conceptualises "the window", using as primary source Leon Battista Alberti's De Pictura (1435), which provides the basis for the dominant visual hegemony, continuing some 600 years later. This defining work on perspective theory is read through Anne Friedberg, David Michael Levin, and R. Murray Schafer.

The paper cautions that the non-relational, fixed-perspective approach to our senses embedded in the Sono denies our integrated, haptic sensorium.