"The Timbre of Trash": Talk and Performance by Joe Cantrell

February 22, 2019 - 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm (already occurred)
Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry
Black-and-white photo of Joe Cantrell adjusting a piece of electronic equipment

Talk and Performance

"The Timbre of Trash: Anthropomorphic models to Resist Obsolescence in Technological Sound Practices"

"Electronic sound artists and musicians, in their choice of the tools of their craft, have a close, working relationship with a specific form of mass-produced commodity, that of technological audio devices. Like other manufactured goods, they originate from a global production system that is historically exploitative and environmentally unsustainable. The nature of electronic and digital technology, however, warrants an additional layer of scrutiny: they are beholden to the expectations of continuous technological improvement and obsolescence.

"To counter these continuing tendencies, I offer a reading of new materialist theory with an eye toward how it may be specifically applied to electronic and digital musicians. New materialism projects a monistic perception of the world, in which the differentiation between humans, non-humans and objects is called into question. Applied to technological audio devices, porous boundaries allow a vision of audio technology that is inclusive of all the bodies with which it has come in contact, and urges a limited sense of anthropomorphic identification with its users. This sense of interaction is extended into the realm of audio feedback, in which all audio processors, regardless of their intended functionality, contribute to a common sonic end. Seen in this way, sound technology that was once subject to the whims of constant development, becomes imbued with a personal sense of vitality, making it more difficult to be perceived as a disposable and obsolete."

Joe Cantrell is an artist specializing in sound art, installations, compositions and performances inspired by the implications of technological objects and practices. His work examines the incessant acceleration of technological production, its ownership and the waste it produces. Joe holds a B.F.A. in music technology from CalArts, an M.F.A. in digital arts and new media from UC Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. in music at UC San Diego. His work has been honored with grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, New Music USA and the Qualcomm Institute Initiative for Digital Exploration of Arts and Sciences, among others.

Additional Info

Joe Cantrell Website

Contact Info

Yvette Jackson
(413) 542-5985
image of e-mail address@amherst.edu