A Sound Factory on Amager

From Odesk to ASMR
Af
30. August 2016

Experimental Audio Paper

Listen to the audio paper in Sound Cloud

Abstract

The nature of work has developed dramatically over recent decades. Often characterized as a shift from fordism to post-fordism, these changes have dissolved the old certainties of working life, switching jobs for life with precarious positions, and material production with the seeming immateriality of knowledge work. Places like Amager, still a home to some industries, are now left hosting a multiplicity of post-industrial activities. A field trip to Amager reveals a complex picture of former industrial spaces being inhabited by artists creating colourful knitwear, flea markets selling outdoor furniture, judo schools, the gigantic office of Telia, an airport and hotels specializing in corporate functions. Our proposal is to create an audio paper as a temporary fluid factory; a production of production in sound. This audio paper does not simply represent the production process but actually enters into it, using Amager as the infrastructure and node of connection.  We explore the new forms of labour facilitated by new and old infrastructures. This paper explores questions about our changing conceptions of infrastructure, expanding notions of place, the location and nature of a workforce, openings of new domains for exploitation, and what is the nature of work itself.

Extended abstract 

One of the purposes of this audio paper was to explore the relationship between conventional written academic papers and the recorded and produced audio form. Unfolding an argument about the complexities of post-fordist modes of production requires a certain theoretical depth, which could probably be read aloud in 15 minutes. But to communicate this through produced audio requires that these words are engaged with differently; as temporal phenomena comprised of extraordinarily rich data. During the production process, we became aware of a plurality idiosyncrasies, which emerged when we engaged with our text in this way. The distance the recording production process created between us and the text allowed us to explore the roles and presentation of doubt and errors in the communication of knowledge.

In a related point, the use of two lead voices highlights the collective process of knowledge creation in a way that is often left in the background of multi-authored papers. Affect plays a more enhanced role in the conveyance of information, something we explored directly by setting arguments to music. The subtlety is to allow the music the time to affect the listener's experience of the argument, but not simply as a prop for the text. 

We explore the dramaturgy of this mode of expression, allowing the temporal space to alleviate the density of the information presented. What’s more, it allows for some formal experimentation in the production, of the production of sound. Including the relative precision of reading rehearsed and scripted material juxtaposed against informal improvised conversation. Through this, the listener is then exposed to the spatiality of sound, the recording studio vs. the environmental conversation around a breakfast table. The time taken between these sections gives the listener the moments necessary to reflect on the subtleties of the production. Do you hear edits of extra breath? Was a verbal stumble deliberate or simply deliberately left in? This adds a meta level to the discussion of production of sound; namely that the malleability of digital production is so extensive that it raises new complex questions about the production of knowledge in the age of digital work.

 

Bibliography

Augé, M. (1995) Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. London: Verso.

Berardi, F. (2015) Heroes: mass murder and suicide. London: Verso.

Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005) The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso.

Rezno, T., & Ross, A. (2010) The social network. Berlin: Null Corp.

Weber, M. (1958). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. New York: Scribner

Media:

Eno, B. (1978) Music for airports. [United States], Editions EG.

Mister Motif (2014)  Ordinary Day (recordings of the sound of the ODesk worker Mister Motif’s work in his home in Greece).

Noel, C. (2014) Happy 1st Anniversary. 5 Binaural ASMR Triggers. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaF5Vt7tNH4. Accessed 13/09/2015.

 

Keywords

Amager
ASMR
Augé
digital work
Post-fordism