What is going on here? Navigating multi-modal acoustic spaces./
Most research on interaction features discourse in one way or another (interviews, conversation, talk in interaction). Furthermore, it often focuses on settings, where instrumental, strategic or teleological action occurs, for instance “operating together” (Mondada, 2001) or “telling a joke” (Sacks & Jefferson, 1995).
Language and the rationality of teleological action, it seems, are steering mechanisms needed to transform a mere gathering of people and things into orderly situations that can be socially accounted for.
The setting I would like to talk about seems to lack those two fundamental features. In my paper I look at video footage from an extended ethnographic study of a New York based Media Collective and their weekly “Multi-Media-Open-Jam-Session”
. Here, friends and strangers gather every Sunday night in an 8 hrs Session, producing non-structured audio and video /together./ In this setting there are up to 16 participants, playing simultaneously digital, analogue and acoustic instruments. Sometimes sounds and images are produced in a computer mediated collective environment (several networked laptops), sometimes there is even streams coming in, or remote collaborations taking place simultaneously with the local jam.
Since the setting provides non-idiomatic improvisation it could be argued, that it is lacking fundamental accountability (Garfinkel, 1967), making it a difficult border-line case of the social, the comprehensible and one might argue, the sane.
An approach to this setting might be attempted in following Goffman’s (1981; 1986) deconstruction of the assumptions of orderliness and accountability in utterances in conversation, and his argument for focussing (similar to Schütz, 1951) on more atmospherical notions like „being together“ in a shared space as a kind of primordial layer of the social.
The notion of “being together acoustically” is the center of my study on acoustic occurrences in this setting of interaction without discourse. What I am after are phenomena like: “Giving up control and agency”, “Letting go”, “Waiting for an event to happen in a non-structured space”, “letting order occur and disappear”.
Michael teaches Sociology and Gender Studies at University of Mainz. His areas of interest are in Urban Sociology, Science and Technology Studies, Gender Studies, the Sociology of Music, and Qualitative Research Methods. In 2008 he completed and defended a PhD with the title: Share(ing): The urban creative self and the dispositifs of community. An ethnographic study on technologic and acoustic sociation after the Internet.