Mark Peter Wright – The Thing about Microphones

This paper presentation is a media archaeological investigation of the microphone. Its aim is to generate new speculations and figurations between humans, non-humans and technology, which may arrive out of the Anthropocene and its binary collapsing consequences. Specifically, I will interrogate and re-animate the microphone through its connective political, material and fictional ecologies. I will ask if microphones are agentive actors and if so, what the consequences might be?

The talk draws inspiration from Jussi Parikka’s Insect Media (2010) and more recently Douglas Kahn’s Earth Sound Signal (2013) and Jacob Smith’s Eco Sonic Media (2015). These texts shed light on the historic and material entanglement of non-human phenomena, animals and media. Amplifying such parallel contexts through my own practice-based research will hone the paper’s central argument that the microphone is not merely a tool of servitude employed by human hands. Nor is it just an apparatus that facilitates the audiophile’s pursuit of fidelity. Rather, the microphone is positioned as a “necromedia actant”: part of a networked history of power relations and ethical consequences that can be situated amongst more sinister contexts of surveillance, parasites and horror.

Dr. Mark Peter Wright is an artist, lecturer and researcher working across sound, video, assemblage and performance. His practice explores the relationship between humans, animals, environments and their associated technologies of capture: critically and playfully disturbing Nature documentary tropes and site-­specific art legacies.

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