Acoustic

Sound cage for experiments in sound localization, in Matataro Matsumoto, “Researches on Acoustic Space,” Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory, 5, 1897, 1–75: 3.

Max Planck Research Group (Acoustics)

Epistemes of Modern Acoustics

Research Group Leader: Viktoria Tkaczyk

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In recent years, historians have placed modern science under the sign of a “hegemony of vision” in Western culture—one that, despite extending back to antiquity, only became a radically defining moment with the beginning of the early modern period and the invention of new optical instruments and visual technologies. Without calling into question the modern primacy of vision in general, this research group initiates a more intensive consideration of sound in its dual function as a research object and as an epistemic tool. The genealogy of acoustic knowledge is traced throughout the modern era. We ask about the conditions that enable acoustic knowledge—guided by the premise that the genealogy of acoustic knowledge goes beyond the history of the exact sciences and involves a considerably broader cultural and historical context.

The Max Planck Research Group Epistemes of Modern Acoustics thus focuses on the religious, political, and artistic practices, the media technologies, and the material cultures that prompted a new study of the nature and perception of sound. Acoustic strategies of knowledge production are another of the research group’s interests. What historical knowledge could be acquired or represented only acoustically? When and how were acoustic apparatuses, instruments, and machines deployed as alternative means of research?

Working Groups

Testing Hearing: Science, Art, Industry
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The Lives of Sound Objects: Knowledge, Science, Heritage
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Betwixt and Between: Sound in the Humanities and Sciences
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Projects

Thinking with Sound, 1860–1930
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Listening and the Shaping of Work Performance in the Twentieth Century
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Signal, Symbol, Measure, Model
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George Maciunas, Fluxus, and Media Technologies of Empire
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Historicizing the Applied Humanities
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Tuning Time: Sequences from the History of Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting
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Publications & Digital Resources

Upcoming Events

Productive Sounds in Everyday Spaces: Sounds at Work in Science, Art, and Industry, 1945 to Present

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News & Press

Sabine v. Fischer, former Visiting Scholar, receives award from Society of Architectural Historians

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Alexander Rehding receives Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholarship

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Alexandra Hui receives Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholarship.

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