Sonic Warfare

kode9 aka Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare was published in November. Goodman is best known under his alias kode9, which he uses as a producer, DJ and founder of the record label Hyperdub. However, Goodman (unbeknownst probably to many of his fans) has written extensively on philosophical themes, taking his PhD at Warwick where he was also a member of the influential Ccru (see here for an article describing their theoretical position and methods as well as their fraught relationship with University of Warwick authorities).

Sonic Warfare focuses on the use of sound “to modulate affect” – as a weapon in postmodern warfare, as a method of crowd control, or as a way or creating “bad vibes”. Goodman draws heavily on Deleuze and Guattari, Kodwo Eshun and A. N. Whitehead, at the same time offering perceptive critiques of Virilio, Bergson and Marinetti, among others.

Goodman focuses on sound as vibration, and it is this that distinguishes his position. Firstly, it leads him to describe the sonic as amodal, pre-sensory, working at the most fundamental ontological level. Secondly, the sonic is re-imagined as non-anthropocentric, since it is no longer reliant on human audition. Instead, it is a concept that stretches from the vibrations at a quantum level to those at an architectural level in 21st century cities. He offers a radical reimagining of the concept of sound/unsound, casting it as a force that can be deployed to remould and reorder societies, bodies, and the very ontological structure of human beings.

Art and Negative Affect
By Aaron Smuts , Temple University
(Vol. 4, February 2009)
Philosophy Compass

Taste and Objectivity: The Emergence of the Concept of the Aesthetic
By Elisabeth Schellekens , University of Durham
(Vol. 4, August 2009)
Philosophy Compass

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