Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Stanyeck “Digital Auditory Cultures and the Problem of ‘Mobile Music’”

Music, Sound and the Reconfiguration of Public and Private Space Conference – “Urban and mobile music/sound” panel continued:

The talk by Sumanth Gopinath (who wrote “Ringtones, or the auditory logic of globalisation”) and Jason Stanyeck “Digital Auditory Cultures and the Problem of ‘Mobile Music’” gave a very detailed analysis of mobile music, using the Nike+ range as a case study. They talked about the fundamentally complex experiences of mobile music. Hardt, Negri, and Harraway served as a background to discuss bioregulation and self-regulation in relation to exercising and mobile technology.

Their concerns with auditory feedback of bodily data also chimes with Sonic Interaction Design (SID) group around Thomas Herrmann, that are researching the sonification of biomedical data. Tim Rice presentation of sound in hospitals “Broadcasting the Body: the private made public in a London hospital”, and John Wynne recording that were part of the evening’s concert, and who presented at the Sound Art conference in Copenhagen, are also relevant in this context.

Gopinath and Stanyeck’s paper was very interesting in their focus on the body and the sounds of the body in relation to public and private, health and illness, mobility and immobility. The Nike+ is a system where you put a small chip into your running shoes and it transmits your running data to your ipod. You can choose celebrity’s voices for encouragement during your exercise, playlists by celebrety athletes, have information about your run and your preformance read out to you. After the run you can upload your data to a website to track your progress and to join a community of other runners. Gopinath and Stanyeck also analyse two commercials for the Nike+ system. In one of them the public private distinction is dramatised, the private space being where the data is uploaded to the community online, the public space the non-social running arena with your individual run and music. The marketing phrase is “tune your run”. The second clip is around a female runner and features comic-style speakers appearing in the streets accompanying her run, the sound of her breath, and a band emerging and running with her. Interestingly, elite runners (and most runners I know including myself) don’t listen to music on their runs, as it distracts from the needed focus on their bodies.
Their presentation of choreographies of mobile listening, their analysis of the run as sonic object to be tuned opens up to further research in the area, especially around the movement of bodies and capitals.


One response to “Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Stanyeck “Digital Auditory Cultures and the Problem of ‘Mobile Music’”

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