Re: traduction/translation

Subject: Re: traduction/translation
From: Kenneth Newby (
Date: Wed Oct 26 2005 - 13:34:41 EDT

This is a very nice approach Kevin and one which I've been moving
increasingly towards in my teaching. The notion of meaning however,
does seem to bring us back to a situation where focus and field might
again enter the discussion.

Michael Polanyi's analysis of how meaning is constructed is relevant
here. According to Polanyi, the focus of our attention is achieved
through some one or more subsidiary perceptions that remain relatively
unconscious, unless we make an effort to direct our focus on those
subsidiaries. Stereo vision is a good example. We typically enjoy the
synthetic experience of three dimensionality but can, with some effort,
see the two relatively flat images provided by each eye and the way
they fail to line up at various distances from the eye. This shift of
focus tends to break the synthetic production of meaning.

The tracing of sound to source, or causal listening to use Chion's
taxonomy, seems to mirror this mechanism: using the sound and all its
perceptual features, horizontal, vertical, as you mention the
subsidiaries that allow us to focus on the meaning of the sound. In
the notion of reduced listening we focus on the perceptual at the risk
of losing meaning. Of course, this is an expanded sense of meaning as
Chion provides another form of listening he terms semantic, in which a
sound symbolizes something (language, sound signals, etc.). I would
follow Polanyi in this to allow both semantic and causal listening as
forms of meaning. Thereby allowing us to enjoy an expanded field of
meaning such as that potentially provided by a sound art making use of
sounds amenable to "tracing", "focus" and "searching" for meanings.

Another model that strikes me as useful is one I learned during my time
living with Balinese artists. For these people a guiding principle is
"desa kala patra" or the conscious integration of time space and
context into the meaningful articulation of "place". Modernity, with
its abstract notions of time and space has tended to erode the role of
context and by extension the sense of place. That's what makes the use
of sound in it's causal or semantic readings interesting to me. The
opportunity to reconnect with a specific place, acknowledging it's
space-time features and social-historical context.


On 26-Oct-05, at 8:36 AM, Kevin Austin wrote:

> I propose that the "analysis" of listening work within three broad
> categories: physical, perceptual and (psychological/ ) philosophical.
> The physical is characterized by the displacement of molecules of air.
> These are handled by "instantaneous / sampled" time (as a sample is on
> a CD, or the displacement of a stylus on vinyl etc), or "quantized /
> windowed" time, which will allow for the (derived) concepts of
> frequency and then spectrum.
> The perceptual area works on the process of separation into the
> "horizontal" (segmentation), and "vertical" (segregation > streaming /
> integration > coherent spectrum).
> The (psychological) philosophical is about the context, and includes
> historical, sociological, cultural, critical / descriptive,
> philosophical / speculative aspects, bound together through
> (meta-)linguistic organization.
> And, all of these are in the service of "understanding", and deriving
> "meaning". The meaning is related to the past-present, and future. The
> combination of response to meaning (emotional states) with
> imagination, is a basis for creativity.
Kenneth Newby Computational Poetics
School for Interactive Arts & Technology
Simon Fraser University
Integrated Media - Emily Carr Institute
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