Re(a)sonance- by Leslie Grant


After being exposed to the sciences behind natural radio I was quite curious to see what other innovations in sound technology are being used to build a stronger relationship between the power couple, art and science. I was greeted by a presentation by Veit Erimann, the author of Reasoning In Resonance. I was intrigued from the start of his presentation, as he discussed his work as an ethnographer which took him to three different continents in order to ensure that he had a full understanding of the science behind cultures that varied from his own. My interest grew as I realized the amount of controversy his works and ideas has brewed up among scientists. Much of Erimann’s focus is on the “common space” that thinking (reason) and hearing (resonance, as defined by scientists) share, which he cleverly and affectionately refers to as a “re(a)sonance.” This goes directly against the thoughts many scientists have that hearing in the form of resonance is not directly linked to reasoning, but is more explicitly the function of the human ear. I found it fascinating that this idea is so widely held in the scientific community, as I previously thought it to be an indisputable fact that our brains actively work to process all the noises that enter through our ears. To hear Erimann’s account of these widely-shared views would make one think that it is a scientific fact that sounds merely enter the ear canal in order to float around aimlessly in the mind afterwards. 

Although Erimann’s lecture makes it apparent that not everyone in the public eye views the role of resonance in our everyday lives in the same way that he does, he does cite many ways in which resonance is involved in major aspects of our world. I found it surprising that he cited Claude Perrault, who is best known as the architect of the eastern edge of the Louvre, in his presentation of his ideas. While many who are familiar with Perrault’s name are aware of his architectural contributions to the historic world, many, like myself, were unaware of the lengths to which he went in order to contribute to acoustics. His work as a physicist further highlights the significance that Erimann’s idea of resonance holds in both the arts and the sciences. He could claim to accomplishments in physics and anatomy, as well as successful publications on both subjects. An artist who dabbled in area of sound and truly wanted to ensure that the public was knowledgeable about the subjects of sound media, sources of sound, and sound receivers, shows a very progressive attitude. 

A depiction of Perrault's works.
A depiction of Perrault’s works.

This presentation contained a great amount of detail, as Erimann was quite passionate about his work and seemed determined to convey the message that reasoning and resonance are coupled throughout all aspects of life. He even delved into the topic of animist conception and animal spirits, with a focus on the fact that they possess the same qualities as humans when it comes to addressing and processing the sounds that they encounter. The idea of an animist conception was quite unfamiliar to me, but a visit to this website provided an insightful and detailed explanation: The overarching message I took away from this presentation tied into that of our class, in the sense that Erimann wanted people to just alter their viewpoints slightly in order to appreciate the connectivity between these two seemingly independent aspects of life. 


Leslie Grant

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