Liz Hopkins (PhD Candidate in the Department of Music):
“Sonic Seascapes, Science, and the Chthulucene”
This paper looks at two oceanographic documentary soundtracks–Jacques Cousteau’s use of Maurice Ravel in his 1976 Voyage to the Edge of the World, and Pierre Henry’s musique concrète score for Jean Painlevé and Geneviève Hamon’s 1965 film, The Love Life of the Octopus–as sites where midcentury poetics of science traversed ways of knowing and feeling. Here, wave forms engender a turbulent flow of aesthetic and historical metaphors: Greek mythology meets science fiction futurism, pastoral ballet gestures to space travel, colonialist politics meet conservational ethics. Following Donna Haraway, I ask whether sound—that “uneasy ocean of air”—might provide a way of understand- ing the “(s)cenes” in which we find ourselves: Cousteau’s “Capitalocene,” the single- player (Western) story of world relations against Painlevé’s “Chthulucene,” a way of understanding our historical epoch through “multispecies stories and practices of becoming-with.”
Click to view the paper here. (Please do not cite or circulate) Film clips discussed in the paper can be viewed here and here.
Liz Hopkins is a Ph.D. candidate in the Music Department where she works on music and mass media in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Her work centers on musical sounds that function within narrative processes of worlding—ongoing forms of world-making imaginaries. Her current project focuses on space, gender, and knowledge in the first thirty years of the Cold War. In particular her work interrogates the idea of the Space Age and its intersection with domestic space, tracking slippages between environment, aesthetics, social practice, and the presumed stability of knowledge. Liz also holds a Master’s degree in flute performance.
Special thanks to Tien-Tien Jong for serving as Liz’s respondent.
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