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Fragments of time and memory

Scanlan, John (2011) Fragments of time and memory. European Journal of English Studies, 15 (1). pp. 19-29. ISSN 1744-4233

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Abstract

This essay looks at the emergence and development, through technology, of the modern auditory world and asks what its existence in the evolving matrices of time, space and the human body can offer to our understanding of matter and material culture today. The first part explores the materialisation of time in phonographic sound as an instance of the fragmentation of modern life, and how this displaced the temporal experience of the premodern world. The second part looks at the impact of magnetic tape recording – its materiality and malleability – which permitted sound artists to produce multitemporal audio collages that advanced the modern soundscape into the realm of Benjamin's ‘dialectical images’. The essay concludes with a consideration of how the material culture of sound ends in the human body – its final materialism – just as the old sound objects of analogue technology appear to be dematerialised.

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