Processing post

In response to Christine Mitchell’s question on the balance between archiving vs. media archaeology, I see Shannon’s point how sometimes the historical conditions of playback matter less than other times. Yet Shannon’s other point about the meta-dimension to sound recording to historical subjects, that is, the sonic archival document is at once a recording of a historical event and a record of its own recording practice, becomes important when you’re talking about i.e. race, sound, and the archive. (like they’re doing at my school next month –> http://aihr.uva.nl/content/events/events/2018/12/entanglements-of-race.html)
For example, sound registers a bodily reality in addition to semantic meanings. The idea of the grain of the voice then gains a very direct political dimension. Also, the recording shapes how the sound is recorded in the first place (i.e. a condenser microphone records all sounds in the vicinity or just a single voice or maybe it drowns out high tones or low tones). A study of colonial sound archive shows that racialized listening practices span across the recording, distribution and archiving of the document. Maybe in studying sound and the archive in particular, media archaeology and archiving cannot be separate practices?

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  • Excellent, Laura. I think you’re right: we have to pay attention to the materialities (and histories) of our recording devices and techniques in order to attend to the materialities of recorded sounds. Media archaeology is indeed highly relevant to audio-visual archiving — but perhaps we should think more media archaeologically across *all* modes of archival practice and use.

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