• Sonically-attuned design histories: Directions in research and communication

Candela, Emily, 2023, Conference or Workshop, Sonically-attuned design histories: Directions in research and communication at 40th Anniversary of the History of Design: Time for Change, RCA/V&A, London, UK, 2-3 Nov 2023.

Abstract or Description:

Sound is ephemeral and intangible, yet it is also resolutely physical, taking the form of vibrations felt in the body when it is perceived. Despite its fleetingness, sound is therefore tied to the materiality of things and spaces, and to the human interactions with and within them. Think of the hushed interior of a library, for instance, or the aural feedback offered by an electronic device. Whether deliberately ‘designed’ or not, the sounds of so many subjects of design scholarship serve communicative functions and shape social relationships and experiences around them. Yet sound is rarely an explicit presence in design history narratives.

In this paper, I ask how we can write design histories that are enriched by tuning into the sonic qualities of artefacts and spaces, and to historical modes of listening and sound production. In reflecting on the possibilities of sonically-attuned design histories, I explore how thinking through sound might not only broaden the scope of design history’s subject areas, but also affect approaches to research and modes of dissemination. The paper draws upon an analysis of sound archives, including my own experience making a pilot sound archive at the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as examples from sound art and design practices. These cases prompt reflections on how sound-focused research can advance design historical concerns and questions, including investigations of materiality, and prompt methodological approaches associated with ways of listening.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: Other
Uncontrolled Keywords: sound; design
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2024 14:13
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 14:13
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5649
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