[NetBehaviour] Spectral Memories: the Aesthetics of the Phonographic Recording.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jul 14 19:18:46 CEST 2008

Spectral Memories: the Aesthetics of the Phonographic Recording.

 Dugal McKinnon
 [It is] in the phonograph record as a thing that its potential 
significance--and also its aesthetic significance--resides

Adorno, 'The Form of the Phonograph Record'

This paper is an attempt to divine a medium's message, that medium being 
the phonographic recording, primarily but not only in the form of the 
record. There are, of course, a plethora of excellent studies of 
recording and the record, but these have tended to examine the effect of 
recording on music (the work of Michael Chanan, Mike Katz and others), 
the cultural meanings and practices associated with recorded music (the 
seminal essays that form Eisenberg's The Recording Angel), or the wider 
sociocultural history of sound technologies (Stern's Audible Past for 
example). What remains less explored are the aesthetics of the record 
itself: how is the record, as a technology with a well-documented 
history, also a signifying medium that has generated certain meanings, 
and modes of aesthetic production and reception? Adorno's suggestive but 
scant writings on the relationship between music and the phonograph come 
closest to initiating such a project. So, Adorno-like, it is with the 
thingness of the record that I'll begin, initiating a series of epigrams 
linked by a somewhat associational chain of thought.

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