Week 11 (Nov. 27) UNSOUND

1. Reading: Brandon Labelle: Shopping Mall

2. Analysis Exercise: The MALL

Visit a particular major-size mall of your choice. You will undertake an analysis of the components which make up the total sonic environment of the mall. You can use any of the sonic effects we have been looking at, and the ideas around silence and noise.

Particular attention should be paid to:

- associations between genres of music and target audiences

localized (niched) sound environments vs. global environments

- forms of ENTRAINMENT

- sonic overlaps: signal / noise distinctions (are certain signals too weak to capture attention, are others too overpowering)

- relations between ATTENTION and DISTRACTION

- Pay attention to other aspects of the environment which appear to emerge as a result of this new attunement. Think about what kinds of activities take place in the background which could potentially be foregrounded (security/policing/control, aberrant activities).

- What is this background sound / ambient music aiming to suppress / cover up? (The BACKGROUND is the space where EVERYDAY gestures take place – a site of infra-perception, infra-ordinary behavior which usually goes unnoticed (repetitive, ritual, instrumental).


How might you use sound in order to stimulate a sense of collectivity? (Where both the physical and mental are intertwined.) How might collective intelligence be mobilized through sound in a capitalist system which separates and individualizes?

What occurs in the background? Can it ever be consciously accessed? How can you learn to listen peripherally? What could you do with that new ability?

How does the game of attention-grabbing function today, in a world of dense sensory stimulation? What are some of the new ways in which signals cut through noise?

Can distraction—considered a negative condition—have positive aspects? What new ways of being/living are made possible through distraction?

Describe an experience of background music which affected you physically and/or psychologically. Did it involve a form of synching (or entrainment)? Did this music insinuate itself emotionally?

Have you ever caught yourself continuing in your mind a song fragment you just heard? How long was the fragment? How long did the song continue in your mind?