Points Further North: An Acoustemological Cartography of Non-Place
Keywords: Acoustemology, Critical cartography, Virtual Reality, Sound Studies, Psychogeography, Haptic Sound
Abstract. This paper discusses the Points Further North project, a VR documentary that was undertaken with a view to foregrounding how sound can be deployed as the primary mechanism for laying out the complex, often subjugated relationships manifested between physical spaces and those who inhabit them. Specifically, It examines how ambisonic and haptic audio’s profoundly affective emotional, tactile and topologically enveloping capacities can be articulated within an acoustemological framework (acoustemology is best defined by ethnographer Steven Feld as “sonic ways of being in and knowing the world”) in order to evoke a heightened sense of awareness, perhaps even an agency, with respect to the largely abstracted ramifications arising from the consumerist lifestyles that are endemic to the developed world. The project exploits the possibilities inherent in the amplification of the vibratory and electromagnetic spectra that permeate our urban environments: infrasonic/tactile elements are disseminated via the Subpac wearable haptic interface in order to constitute a corporeal and emotional presence, and the radiant (yet invisible) transmissions of our information, economic and surveillance networks are captured and sonified via the via use of electromagnetic transducers. Both sonically and thematically, Points Further North seeks to uncover that which sound studies scholar Salomé Voegelin, terms “our locality on the invisible index of sound”, capitalizing upon sound’s capacity to delineate the ethereal topographies engendered via the vast, sublime – yet sublimated – infrastructures that we find ourselves immersed within.