lecture by Shelley Trower (UK)

Nineteenth century science and technology brought vibration to consciousness in new ways, in the form of siren sounds, railway shocks, and the noises experienced on city streets. At certain speeds, people could now perceive vibration as both multiple (separate, individual impulses or shocks) and singular (like a ‘tone’). At a specific point of rapidity, the separate impulses are lost to consciousness, joining together into a singular tone, but there is a moment between speeds, when the multiple is perceived within the singular.
This lecture considers how certain speeds of vibration exist on the edges of the sensory thresholds. It will present a selection of examples of how vibration became conscious in new ways: how physicists used the siren to demonstrate how separate vibrations become a singular tone; how spiritualists used auditory technologies to speed up spiritual vibrations thereby making them audible; how medical writers attempted to count the separate vibrations or ‘shocks’ experienced on the railway, each of which was presumed to damage the nerves even when not consciously perceived. I will finish with some reflections on contemporary siren noises, especially those of the New York based ‘Rumbler’, and how these frequencies continue to exist on the thresholds of our auditory perception.

appearance at Tuned City
Brussels / Relational Noise – 28. June 2013