Making Sonic Time Capsules
Andrea Zarza Canova

Independent Researcher, Postgraduate student in Records and Archives Management at University College London

This paper examines how the process of creating a sonic time capsule can be a valuable methodology for tuning our listening and encouraging us to reflect critically upon our soundscape. It argues that a culture of listening must be created around the sound objects we collect and preserve in order to guarantee a permanence of their meaning. To explore these ideas, I will present “A Sonic Time Capsule”, an instruction manual I have compiled.

“A Sonic Time Capsule” is an instruction manual for building a sonic time capsule that also attempts to investigate the philosophical implications embedded in this process. It outlines a hypothetical workshop in which people interested in “listening to the present” decide on and perform the contents of a sonic time capsule. Listening exercises, by Pauline Oliveros and Raymond Murray Schafer, and questions written specifically for the task, serve as cues for the participants. An explanation of how listening critically can allow us to interpret the soundscape we live in and become active agents in it is also discussed.

This paper concludes with some reflections on how the process of creating a sonic time capsule can generate a culture of listening. What is kept for posterity is not a material object, such as the NASA’s Golden Record, but rather a listening strategy that allows future listeners to engage with their soundscape meaningfully (similarly to Alvin Lucier’s score for “North American Time Capsule”). The process of collating “A Sonic Time Capsule” emphasizes the impossibility of reifying time on a physical medium, and how creating a live listening experience that preserves the ephemeral nature of sound can be a solution
for this.

12:30 (PRM Lecture Theatre) Saturday, November 24
Session 2: Making Sonic Time Capsules: Histories and Futures of Listening and Circulating


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