In conjunction with SoundBox, this project, directed by Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden, will develop a digital sound archive of eighteenth-century Paris that re-creates the web of sonic knowledge that Parisians lived within and explores how that web transformed and persisted over the course of the century, particularly in relation to the circulation of French Enlightenment thought (1749-1789) and the French Revolution (1789-1799). Organs of the Soul: An Archive of Sonic Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris will make three theoretical and methodological arguments. First, that sound and music serve as integral aspects of the circulation and performance of knowledge, even in highly literate societies. Second, that understanding the sonic social archive of a particular time and place allows us to ask broader trans-historical questions about changing cultural and social categories. And third, that such digital formats more effectively present scholarship on sound than written scholarship because of their ability to foreground the sound itself.
Using equipment and resources available in the Audiovisualities Lab, the project will consist of designing an interactive multimedia publication created on Scalar that will simulate networks within this sonic social archive of eighteenth-century Paris. The digital publication will allow participants to explore these networks through a choose-your-own-adventure format. Users will first be presented with an eighteenth-century timeline featuring key people and events in Paris. From this timeline, they will be allowed to rummage through songs, instruments, writings on music, reports on rowdiness, complaints about noise, and more. Participants will be invited to follow any path they like: melodies, concepts, people, or even just chronology throughout this sonic and musical web.
Update January 2015: “Organs Of the Soul” is now live as part of the Provoke! Digital Sound Studies collection. Follow “View Project” link below.