Selected Publications

The Sound of Things to Come: An Audible History of the Science Fiction Film
(University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

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Including original readings of classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still2001: A Space OdysseyStar Wars, and Blade Runner, this book delivers a comprehensive history of sound in science fiction cinema. Approaching movies as sound objects that combine cinematic apparatus and consciousness, Trace Reddell presents a new theory of sonic innovation in the science fiction film.

Reddell assembles a staggering array of movies from sixty years of film history—including classics, blockbusters, B-movies, and documentaries from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union—all in service to his powerful conception of sound making as a speculative activity in its own right. Reddell recasts debates about noise and music, while arguing that sound in the science fiction film provides a medium for alien, unknown, and posthuman sound objects that transform what and how we hear.

Avoiding genre criticism’s tendency to obsess over utopias, The Sound of Things to Come draws on film theory, sound studies, and philosophies of technology to advance conversations about the avant-garde, while also opening up opportunities to examine cinematic sounds beyond the screen.

 

"Ethnoforgery and Outsider Afrofuturism"
Dancecult: Journal of Electronic dance music culture
Vol 5, No 2 (2013): Special Issue on Afrofuturism

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This essay detours from Afrofuturism proper into ethnological forgery and Outsider practices, foregrounding the issues of authenticity, authorship and identity which measure Afrofuturism’s ongoing relevance to technocultural conditions and the globally-scaled speculative imagination. The ethnological forgeries of the German rock group Can, the work of David Byrne and Brian Eno, and trumpeter Jon Hassell’s Fourth World volumes posit an “hybridity-at-the-origin” of Afrofuturism that deconstructs racial myths of identity and appropriation/exploitation. The self-reflective and critical nature of these projects foregrounds issues of origination through production strategies that combine ethnic instrumentation and techniques, voices sampled from radio and TV broadcast, and genre-mashing hybrids of rock and funk along with unconventional styles like ambient drone, minimalism, noise, free jazz, field recordings, and musique concrète.

With original recordings and major statements of Afrofuturist theory, the essay orchestrates a deliberately ill-fitting mixture of Slavoj Žižek’s critique of multiculturalism, Félix Guattari’s concept of “polyphonic subjectivity,” and Marcus Boon’s idea of shamanic “ethnopsychedelic montage” in order to argue for an Outsider Afrofuturism that works along the lines of an alternative modernity at the seam of subject identity and technocultural hybridization. In tune with the Fatherless sensibilities that first united black youth in Detroit (funk, techno) and the Bronx (hip-hop) with Germany’s post-WWII generation (Can’s krautrock, Kraftwerk’s electro), Outsider Afrofuturism opens up alternative routes toward understanding subjectivity and culture—through speculative sonic practices in particular—while maintaining social behaviors that reject multiculturalism’s artificial paternal origins, boundaries and lineages.

"The social Pulse of telharmonics:
functions of networked sound & interactive webcasting"
Cybersounds: essays on virtual music culture, ed. michael d. ayers
(Peter lang publishing, 2006)

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This chapter concerns developments in audio production and performance made possible through digital technologies as sound artists, musicians, and DJs have come to rely on computer networks for some phase of their projects or live shows. The chapter also describes web-based works, gallery installations, and computer-based media used in live performances and streaming Internet broadcasts. Technologies of sound embed social practice within the media networks of production, collaboration, broadcast, and reception. First, individual performers access a networked database of sound sources and media objects as a way of chronicling associative links among items stored in the material archive. Second, solitary performers collaborate across networks, processing and remixing one another’s streaming audio files or sharing virtual instrument interfaces through the Internet. And third, multiple sets of performers and webcasters interact with each other’s transmissions, coordinated in a live, globally synchronized event. The course of this sequence establishes some of the ways in which these projects and performances foreground the social function of organized sound in terms of telephonic connectivity.