A few hours after writing yesterday’s post, in which I mentioned Lisa Blackman’s book Immaterial Bodies, I chanced across a video of her talking about some of the ideas she writes about. It’s a happy find because I wasn’t searching for anything particularly related to the book (I was looking for a video of Philip Glass’s music on Sesame Street, if you must know!). What makes it even better is that Blackman is joined by Julian Henriques, author of Sonic Bodies.
“This talk explores two examples of immaterial communication. One is sound waves, as the energetic disturbance of a medium. The other is automaticity as the sense a person has of being directed by someone or something else, human or non-human. Popular conceptions of the immaterial suggest that the imperceptible, the invisible and the ethereal are often aligned to the occult, supernatural and haunting. Ideas about sound are associated on the one hand with embodied affects, drives, entrainment, rhythmic compulsion, as well as on the other the sublime and the ethereal. The session is presented as a dialogue between Julian Henriques’ work on sonic bodies (2011) which draws on the ways of knowing of the Jamaican reggae sound system engineers, and Lisa Blackman’s work on voice hearing, suggestion, and telepathy (2001; 2012) which draws on imaginary media such as telepathy and hypnotism at the start of the 20th century. In line with the turn to affect, the talk will purpose the idea of the immaterial for a discussion of voicing, hauntings, the virtual, atmpospheres, the subliminal, or even transliminal.”