Sonic Psychotechnology Workshop

This workshop session approaches the conference theme of “out of mind” as a form of speculative sound studies and participatory sonic science fiction. Participants will work with several psychic and cinematic apparatuses that draw on science fiction’s capacity for cognitive estrangement, literally taking us out of our minds. Through a combination of spoken word, sound and video synthesis, and audiovisual remixing, the workshop – a science fictional form in its own right – shifts the emphasis on the “new” in science fiction from history, utopia/dystopia, and analogy toward other states of consciousness and strange modes of being in the world.

I will briefly introduce participants to the origins of sonic psytech in a few cinematic models. We will consider the role of precognitive affect in science fiction cinema, considering THX-1138 (1971) and Blade Runner (1982) as exercises in ambient mindfulness. Then, referencing Forbidden Planet (1956) and Decoder (1984), I will introduce “sonorous object-oriented ontologies,” blending Pierre Schaeffer’s work on concrete music with the alien phenomena of speculative materialism to apprehend the emergence of the sound object as a vital, hybrid sonic/material being.

Participants will then have their own psytech fine-tuned around 4 or 5 cinematic tonal clusters. Manifesting according to a distinct psychotechnological subroutine instigated by participants’ use of audiovisual instruments, each zone of neosonic estrangement functions as the modular components of a cosmic thought synthesizer. The workshop will be collaboratively experienced and collectively evaluated.

SLSA 2018: Out of Mind (November 15-18, 2018, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts