Sound Rites: Relationships Between Words and Sound in New Media Writing

Abstract (in English): 

While discussion of the relationship of image and word has been prominent in the discourses
surrounding new media writing, the role of sound is rarely addressed in this context, even
though words are sounds and sounds are a major component of multimedia. This paper
explores possibilities for new theoretical frameworks in this area, drawing on musico-literary
discourse, intermedia theory and inter-cultural theory, and using ideas about semiotic and cultural exchange as a basis.

The paper will examine the different types of sound in new media writing from voice-based
performance of words to soundscapes and musical composition, and the role of sampling, vocal
manipulation and improvisation. Building on my previous work on affective intensities in new
media writing (Smith 2007 ; Smith 2009), and the manipulation of the voice to create cultural
effects such as sonic cross-dressing (Smith 1999), I will discuss the ways in which sound plays
a distinctive role in new media writing. I will argue that it creates mood, immersion and affect,
and can be very important in questioning stereotypical concepts of gender or racial identity. I will
also talk about sound as part of the process of making a work, and how the sound can drive the
writing, as well as writing driving the sound.

(Source: Author's abstract, 2012 ELO Conference site)

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Eric Dean Rasmussen