Pre-Seminar Prep (11/03/2019)

Tom Rice, ‘Sounds inside: prison, prisoners and acoustical agency’

  • ‘The sources indicate that prisoners actively draw on listening and sound-making in a diversity of ways as they negotiate prison life’
  • ‘active role played by prisoners themselves in shaping the sonic space they inhabit’
  • More attention is being paid to the design of prisons due to the noise problem within many.
  • ‘Noise has been identified as a contributor to unhealthy and stressful conditions in prisons and long-term exposure to loud noise has even been linked to deafness among prisoners’ – the brutality of the noises of a prison and how this brutality is shown through the violence of the sound of the prison in Cash’s album
  • ‘sounds carry important information’ for prisoners e.g. activities, events, dangers etc.
  • ‘Rather than simply being passively absorbent of unpleasant noise, then, prisoners are also active and resourceful listeners to and interpreters of sound’
  • ‘Listening to music can enable some prisoners to manage and direct emotion in significant ways. Music can also afford both a way of retreating from others and a means of antagonising them’
  • ‘Sound is an important aspect of the materiality and physicality of prisons’ – how Cash’s album represents both
  • ‘Sounds clearly pay an important role in beginning and establishing the rhythm of the institutional day’
  • Prisoners having acoustical agency (listen to things happening, know when different events happen etc.) due to the visual restrictions of the prison. The fact that this is a recording, not a film, represents that aural rather than visual agency of the prisoners.
  • 8 section – ‘Visually, prisons may be bounded spaces, their limits tightly controlled, clearly demarcated by walls and fences. From an acoustic perspective, however, they are porous. As illustrated above, sounds can move through and around prison buildings. Songs such as Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and Hank Williams’ I Heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow also suggest that sounds can seep into prisons from beyond their boundaries’
  • Section on prisoners being allowed music personally etc.
  • ‘Listening evidently produces moments of intense pleasure, allowing him every so often to transcend the experiential and emotional plane of mundane prison life’ – is this what is happening for the prisoners? Then the album does the opposite and brings about the prison setting for those listening to the recording?

Gascia Ouzounian, ‘Sound Art and Spatial Practices: Situating Sound Installation Art Since 1958

  • ‘idea of ‘situated listening’ – a mode of listening that is contingent upon the particular, placed situation(s) of hearing’
  • Gascia Ouzounian, ‘Embodied Sound: Aural Architectures and the Body’
  • ‘social constructs that have been shown to be principal determinants of space, place and identity’
  • ‘Voice turns into a spatial sound element, becomes a ‘third space’ when it leaves the body’

 Konca Saher & Murat Cetin, ‘The Sound of Crime and Punishment; a Review of Different Prison Types in Regard to Their Binary Soundscapes’

 – Notion of sound in prisons ‘used as a tool for social segregation’

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