Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Medienwissenschaft

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Musik­wissen­schaft und Medien­wissen­schaft | Medienwissenschaft |  ↳ Medientheorien | Kolloquium | Johan Malmstedt: Sound out of time: Two cases on the threshold between Swedish media history and digital signal processing. (Vortrag)

Johan Malmstedt: Sound out of time: Two cases on the threshold between Swedish media history and digital signal processing. (Vortrag)

  • Wann 26.10.2022 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Medientheater, Raum 0.01, Georgenstraße 47, 10117 Berlin Online via Zoom
  • Name des Kontakts
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What does digital signal processing entail for historiography?

Sound archives are peculiar features in the 21st century – extensive and vast, yet, mute and inaccessible accumulations of seemingly arbitrary signals from the past. But what is the relationship between signals and history?

My doctoral project, Sound out of time, is an experimental attempt to plug the signal output back into history. Technical, ethical, and epistemological factors have since long short-circuited the historian’s relationship to acoustic signals. By granting digital signal processing the center stage of humanistic inquiry, we can perform the oscillation between “counted time” and “narrative time”.

The work takes its departure from the Swedish broadcasting archive, which, according to IASA (The International Association for Sound and Audiovisual Archives), is globally unique in its extensiveness. The Swedish archival sector was the first to opt for complete documentation of mass media content. During the second half of the 20th century, it was the largest mass media archive in the world. Since 1979, every second, of every hour of public service broadcasting has been stored and digitized. The specified motivation was to “store information” for “future media research” (SOU, 1978:12). But, as it turns out, 10 million hours of broadcasting data pose more of a conundrum, than an opportunity - both for the individual media historian and for historiography itself. Authors like Lynn Spigel, Frank Bösch, and Jacques le Goff have all respectively stressed the increasing reliance on broadcasting data in modern historical research. Nevertheless, these broadcasting archives are not textual narratives. Instead, in the age of digitalization, they are particularly comprised of lists upon lists of discrete-time signals. This, in turn, disrupts the representational paradigm in historical research.

My work enacts this disruption. When acoustic signals, removed from the reverberance of time, become the object of research, a whole new set of methods becomes available. Through a sequence of historiographical experiments, the aim is to infuse narrativity with measurements like spectral flatness, zero-crossing, and LUFS. In this talk, I will present two such experiments - one attending to the rhythmic compression of silences in radio broadcasting, and a second case, exploring the latent space of television noise. In doing this, I seek to demonstrate the possibilities of digital audio signal processing and invite to a discussion on the threshold between words and signals.


Bitte beachten! Trotz bundesweiter Lockerungen bitten wir darum, während der Präsenzveranstaltungen selbstständig eine Maske zu tragen und die 3G-Regeln einzuhalten.

Wir bitten um eine kurze Rückmeldung, damit wir die ungefähre Anzahl an Teilnehmenden einschätzen können.

Zusätzlich bieten wir auch eine Teilnahme via Zoom an. Bitte wählen Sie sich dafür ab 17:50 Uhr ein. Den Link erhalten Sie auf Nachfrage von Raphael Tostlebe.