Dhvāni (Budhaditya Chattopadhyay) at the Rewire Festival 2021. Photo credit: Pieter Kers.
Within Arts and Humanities, sound studies have established itself as a vibrant and productive academic field in the last decade, resulting in a profusion of scholarly and artistic works, including numerous publications, conferences and major projects. In this developing body of work, however, there is an astounding absence of sound thinkers and makers from the Global South. The profusion of works has basically been Euro-American. Sounds in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East – broadly termed the Global South – have largely remained underexplored, although they contribute significantly to global outputs in audiovisual media. Does that mean non-Europeans cannot think critically in the realm of sound media? If we make an effort in assessing some of the literatures and aesthetic experiences on sound and listening in South Asia alone, we find a different narrative. There are important discourses existing having the potential not only to enrich the field but also to address some unresolved issues in sound studies, e.g. time and space. No wonder, canonical figures in sound arts, such as John Cage and La Monte Young changed the course of their artistic trajectories upon engaging with Indian music, contributing to a curious sonic confluence, that is the focus of the project’s inquiry.

The project will explore and revitalise this sonic confluence by investigating the following research question: What can the Eurocentric field of sound studies gain by examining sound practices and auditory cultures in South Asia in the areas of temporality, spatiality, chance, and subjectivity? The project’s multilevel methodology combines forms of academic inquiry with artistic and curatorial practices. A series of academic inquiries into the materials and available data will be conducted, leading to a monograph and a collection of interviews. The key scientific contribution of the project is to address inadequacies in contemporary sound studies by drawing on productive perspectives from South Asia. This is likely to have substantial impact on media studies interested in globalness and decoloniality. The project outcomes include publications, a series of exhibitions, and scholarly gatherings.

Books and Monographs

2024 Sound in Indian Film and Audiovisual Media: History, Practices, and Production. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

The book is the first ever systematic attempt to study film sound in the Indian subcontinent by artistic research. The book aims to fill the scholarly void on the issues of sound and listening in the Global Souths’ cultures. It develops a comprehensive understanding of the unique sound world of Indian film and audiovisual media through the examination of historical developments of sound from early optical recordings to contemporary digital audio technologies. The book is enriched with a practice-based methodology informed by the author’s own practice and based on extensive conversations with leading sound practitioners in the Indian subcontinent. The book locates an emerging social and spatial awareness in Indian film and media production aided by a creative practice of sound, occurring alongside the traditionally transcendental, oral, and pluriversal approach to listening. By tracing this confluence of tradition and modernity, the book makes valuable contributions to the fields of film history, sound, and media studies.

2022 Sound Practices in the Global South: Co-listening to Resounding Plurilogues. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

The book explores the manifold strands of sound practice across South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America by examining critical intersections between practice and theory from the ground up and locates decolonial resistance in the work of Global Souths sound practitioners in their own words.

Articles (selected)

2024 “Auralizing Archives: Post-digital Emancipation of Colonial Artifacts”. Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft, special issue Sound|Archives (In progress).

2023 “An Equal Sound”, Rewire Festival catalogue 2023. https://www.rewirefestival.nl/feature/an-equal-sound

2023 “Re-sounding Souths”, CTM Festival Journal 2023. https://www.ctm-festival.de/magazine/re-sounding-souths

2022 “On Pre-colonial Indigenous (Sound) Technologies”. Proceedings of Politics of the Machines – Rogue Research. Berlin: BCS Learning & Development. https://www.scienceopen.com/hosted-document?doi=10.14236%2Fewic%2FPOM2021.4

2022 “Room Ambience: Home as Heard in Film and Media Arts”. Journal of Sonic Studies 22. https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/1440447/1440448

Book chapters

2024 “Mise-en-sonore: Placemaking in Fiction Film versus Audiovisual Media Artwork”. In Roche, D and Gaudin, A (eds.), Sound/Space in Film: Craft, Aesthetics, Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (Forthcoming).

2024 “Sonic Disjunctions: Critical Listening to Ashish Avikunthak’s Filmworks”. In Paunksnis, S (ed.). Ashish Avikunthak. NY: Bloomsbury. (In Press).

2024 “OM”. In Herzogenrath, B. (ed.), A Sound Word Almanac. NY: Bloomsbury. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/sound-word-almanac-9798765109052/

2023 “Dhvāni: Resonance”, in Herzogenrath, B. (ed.), Concepts: A Travelogue. New York: Bloomsbury. https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/concepts-9781501375316/

2023 “Co-listening: Theory and Practice”, in LaBelle, Brandon (ed.), The Listening Biennial Reader. Berlin: Errant Bodies Press. https://errantbodies.org/project/listening-biennial-reader-1


2024 Co-sounding: Towards a Sonorous Land, Errant Sound gallery, Berlin, February 2024. https://errantsound.net/projects/exhibitions/

2023—2024 Landing: Rituals for Situated Sonic Reverence, Terra Libera, Rijksmuseum Twente, September 2023 – January 2024. https://www.rijksmuseumtwenthe.nl/content/3473/en/artistic-research

2023 Co-sounding: Towards a Sonorous Land, Polyphonic Landscapes, Zone2Source, Amsterdam, October 2023 – March 2024. https://polyphoniclandscapes.artez.nl / https://zone2source.net/en/tentoonstelling/polyphonic-landscapes-2/

2023 Swār from Dhvāni project, ISEA2023, Paris, May – June 2023. https://isea2023.isea-international.org/fr/programme/view/66/psych-e

Research Partner

Faculty of Art, Music and Design (KMD), University of Bergen, Norway