My Body Is A Leaky Box: A Sensory Remix

[header photo by flattop341, licensed by creative commons]

Feeding In. Mixing. Patterns emerge. Conditioning. New info feeds into the system (the body is a leaky box). Feeding Back. Remixing. Reconditioning. And the beat goes on…


Hi. You have entered the active construction site for a new project I’m working on. This process-heavy endeavor is an attempt to compose a sonic representation(s) of a feedback loop. Using samples, quotes, and original observations, I’ll be manipulating audio tracks to explore the concept of listening as a productive, creative act that (like all feedback systems) involves a constant mixing, splicing, amplifying, layering, and remixing of information. 

I will be posting regular updates of my sound experiments (in the mad scientist sense of the word) to the “Audio Posts” Page. This may result in a lot of little feedback-loop-ish songs, or a lot of pieces that eventually create a whole. But whatever it turns into, you will be able to experience the entire process of its unfolding.


The core of my project is based on the idea of the body as an open system with information constantly feeding in, feeding back, remixing, and recirculating– always adjusting and changing as new information flows in and out.  In this sense, the body is a perpetual remix.  For my purposes, I am choosing to focus on two particular holes in the leaky box–the ears–as mechanisms that transduce sound.  In other words, our ears are tiny machines that enable us to take in information (sound) and process it (turn it into something–meaning, action, etc).  This idea is perhaps most vividly illustrated by Alexander Graham Bell’s and Clarence Blake’s ear phonautograph (1874).  The ear phonautograph actually used a human ear as part of a larger machine–“Bell and Blake attached a small piece of straw directly to the small bones (of the human ear) to serve as a stylus, producing tracings that were a direct effect of the tymphanic vibrations” (Jonathan Sterne, The Audible Past, 32).  In effect, the machine literally turned sound into writing–it wrote sound.  Exploring the ways in which our ears transduce will definitely play an influential role in my experiments.


Though at this point I cannot predict what shape these experiments will take, I can tell you that they will be influenced by the work of Henri Bergson, Deleuze & Guattari, Brian Massumi, Anne Wysocki, Anna Munster, Friedrich Kittler, and other prominent theorists who are associated with the digital.  Musically, I  will be riffing off of Girl Talk, DJ Spooky, Raymond Scott, and countless jazz and indie rock artists (see “Liner Notes”).  I can also tell you that I have very little experience creating musical products.  A long time ago, I could play the piano and the trumpet (I remember having a Louis Armstrong solo in 3rd grade).  Today, I am a listener.  But I’d like to think a good listener.  So that is what I’m bringing to the table, in addition to some recent exposure to digital media theory, and quite a few years of higher education.  Stay tuned for inevitable chaos, breakdowns, and hopefully, breakthroughs…       

2 Responses to “My Body Is A Leaky Box: A Sensory Remix”

  1. Hey Steph,

    Rawkin’ blog. When I have more time, I will explore it more fully/ contribute sometime of use-value, but for now. Gnarly stuff.

    As per:

    Marnie Stern–> Rock Guitar Maestro/ Phenom of Shredding, Subpop Siren, Able to leap mid-size brownstones in a single strum

    Modern Formations (on Penn Ave near Spak Brothers Pizza) aka 2 blocks from my house. 10 PM, Sunday April 26th. Be there/square

  2. Oh, one other thing,

    Cultural Studies of Canada Conference. Sterne is a moderator. Abstracts due Friday. You should apply, Sheila and I are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s