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The acoustics of the 'self': Discovering the voices of the 'I'

Karikis, M; (2006) The acoustics of the 'self': Discovering the voices of the 'I'. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis is a methodological experiment, which employs academic writing and artistic practice to explore notions of the 'self through the study of voice and sound. It is presented in two formats (an audio-book and a text with two audio cds and a dvd) and is divided into two chapters. Chapter One invents an author-character who describes a journey through a mythical forest and Chapter Two continues with the same character's physical journey through the city. The text of both chapters is narrated by the voice of the author-character. The first chapter studies different versions of the classical myth of Narcissus and Echo. In the journey through an enchanted forest presented in the ancient tale, the thesis discovers a representation of an inner quest for 'self-knowledge' and discusses the series of disruptive encounters that take place between the 'self and its vocal and visual reflections. The chapter concentrates on the processes of disintegration in the optical and the acoustic realm described in the story. Further, the work focuses on the mythical anthropomorphisation of voice and examines its foundational role for the emergence of the self. Throughout Chapter One, additional voices create an acoustic setting they are inserted at various moments to function as 'musical' studies, introductions, interludes or conclusions to textual sections. These voices discover points of vocal rupture and place voice under forces that expose its physical limits they explore the materiality of voice and reveal its power to transform and evoke the presence of a complex, fragmented 'self. Through the exposition of different voices and the study of the myth of Narcissus and Echo, Chapter One interrogates anew the complexity of the emergence of the 'self, discusses the inextricable connection between sound, voice and subjectivity, and examines the problems that arise in self-reflection and the figural representation of the 'self through sound and image. It demonstrates that these fracture and dislocate the 'self in the very movements that give it shape. Chapter Two narrates a physical and a sonic journey through the city, which unfolds through a series of acoustic events: the creaking of the door, a bang in the street, the crackle of the telephone and an incomprehensible word shouted by a passer-by. These initiate a discussion on the relationship between sound, the 'self, its surrounding and modern technology. The project defines this as oto-biographic writing - a word whose sound refers to 'the writing of the self (autobiography) but whose written form refers to a kind of writing that is inspired and guided by the oto, the ear. The thesis understands sound as an intellectual compass and meditates on our ontological connection with it. Further, the text explores the interconnection between image and sound, discussed in Chapter One, through the use of vivid visual language to describe sonic phenomena and make conceptual observations. The second chapter elaborates on the sonic understanding of being, and concludes with the realisation that sound can trigger an inner journey through which the 'self transforms. Chapter Two discovers the humming voice as a kind of 'self- reflection' wherein the 'self metamorphoses, vanishes and emerges at the same time.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The acoustics of the 'self': Discovering the voices of the 'I'
Identifier: PQ ETD:592946
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445622
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