Marina Peterson (U Texas Austin)
Visceral abstraction: Noise metrics in motion
January 26 3:30 PM
Noise metrics inscribe experience, objectifying perception in numbers, graphs, and sound pressure meter readings. Through processes of making, circulating, and engaging noise metrics, modes of inscription emerge as forms of lively matter that resonate with sensory-affective qualities, amplifying, thus, the viscerality of abstraction. Using a glitch methodology, I trace annoyance as it attaches to and falls away from noise, excavating the listening subjects whose experience supported the development of PNdB and reading the indeterminacy inherent in noise metric graphs. Metrics widen a gap between inscription and perception that generates a relationship between the two – a dynamic friction in which discussions about the metric, about its relationship to experience, and about experience itself transpire, affording new modes of engagement. Heat maps of airport noise levels – part of LAX’s noise management work – are a palpable instantiation of the viscerality of abstraction even as they refigure the sensory, thermoception destabilizing a divide between sensation and that which is sensed.
Marina Peterson is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work attends to sensory attunements, fluid materialities, and atmospheric forces in Los Angeles and beyond. She is the author of Atmospheric Noise: The Indefinite Urbanism of Los Angeles (2021, Duke UP) and Sound, Space, and the City: Civic Performance in Downtown Los Angeles (2010, UPenn Press), as well as co-editor of Global Downtowns (with Gary McDonogh, 2012, UPenn Press), Anthropology of the Arts: A Reader (with Gretchen Bakke, 2016, Bloomsbury), and Between Matter and Method: Encounters in Anthropology and Art (with Gretchen Bakke, 2017, Bloomsbury).