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Sound Microbes / Cornelia Toifl

08 9th, 2020

How electronics changed music and the perception of space

With the help of actor network theory (ANT) as defined by Bruno Latour and Michelle Callon in the 1980s, this scientific work establishes the connection between the development of electronic music and the perception of space. “Poème électronique”, a composition by Edgard Varèse, was a decisive turning point when it was performed at the Philips Pavilion in Brussels in 1958. The network of its success is explained by the comparison with Pasteur’s breakthrough in the search for an antidote to anthrax, a few decades earlier. The interaction within the respective networks allowed both Pasteur and Varèse to achieve fame through a public production, the “theatre of the proof”. The individual components are the sound microbes, which were reproduced electronically for the first time. This was the beginning of a development of computer-generated music that can also form spaces.

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