The Sound of Cosmopolitics

I’m still trying to unpack everything that is Isabelle Stengers’ Cosmopolitics I, Part I: The Science Wars, so this post is going to be brief with a few links.

A friend posted a TED Talk with artist Honor Harger titled “A History of the Universe in Sound.” She describes a bit of history about radio waves from outer space and how they have been picked up by scientists and others here on Earth. During the talk, she plays sounds recorded from the Sun, Jupiter, and the leftover cosmic rays from the big bang. An interesting history to think about in light of Stengers’ arguments about the existence of phenomenon and our relationship to their “discovery”; do we have “the power to talk about the world independently of the relationships of knowledge that humans create”? (Stengers 8)

Honor Harger’s collaborative project with Adam Hyde r a d i o q u a l i a, is an exploration of sound, radio, and other media in artistic practices. Their ongoing project Radio Astronomy allows listeners to hear outer space by using

radio technology to convert data collected by radio telescopes into sound. It then broadcasts this astronomical audio over the internet and on FM radio. Created in collaboration with astronomers, engineers, and radio stations worldwide, the project enables listeners to tune into different celestial frequencies, hearing planets, stars, and the constant hiss of cosmic noise. It aims to reveal the sonic character of objects in our Universe, and in the process make these phenomena more tangible and comprehensible” (radioqualia.net).

Even though Stengers isn’t necessarily talking about outer space in Cosmopolitics, I like the idea of listening to the bodies in space while reading her.

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