Buccin in B-flat, early 19th century

Buccin in B-flat, early 19th century, inv. no. 10184. Photo: Deutsches Museum München.

Umbrella Research Theme (2015-2020)

Sound Objects in Transition

Bells, stringed instruments, theater auditoria, pistols, phonographs, and synthesizers have a long history that is deeply entangled with the production of knowledge, science, and cultural heritage. The Working Group brings these enmeshments to light, with a focus on three forms of sound objects: sound-generating, sound-transmitting, and sound-archiving objects. Alongside materially tangible objects (natural objects, artifacts, objets trouvés), the Working Group also considers immaterial sound objects (musical sounds, sounds of daily life, noise), passed on in written or pictorial form.

The Working Group asks when and how research objects became concrete objects, and what agency these objects have accrued in the domains of knowledge, science, and cultural heritage. We trace the role played by the objects’ materiality in such processes. When did their materials, their value, their sound, their shape change? How did their spatial or cultural embedment mold their use? We are interested in the extent to which sounding objects formed part of codified actions, artistic or technological practices, and social networks. How did they collect or communicate tacit knowledge? At what points did sound objects mark the transition from practical action to scientific research? Where did objects circulate between scientific disciplines, and where did they escape from their scientific contexts to become everyday, communicative, museum, or art objects? How was their sound described, visualized, measured, archived, exhibited, digitized? Finally, we ask where the history of these objects flows into conventional narratives and where they write their very own history over long periods of time.


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