Mythologies: A Sonification of Concept Formation in Relation to the Idea of a University

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. David Michael Berry

    University of Sussex

  2. 2. Barnaby Thorn

    University of Sussex

Work text
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Mythologies is a sonic composition drawing from work researched through the project "Reassembling the University” in 2017-18 and the underlying "Idea of a University" from approximately 1840 to the present day. This looked at how digital transformations were remaking what we think of as knowledge formed in and through the university over time. Part of the outcomes of that project was funding for the ØxØ project as a sonic installation. This included looking at how concepts, organisation and computation are formed into a new constellation of power and knowledge. This work examines how these systems are legitimated and the orders of justification around them, together with the potential of exemplar concepts such as “utility” for providing immanent critique and the space for practices of critical reason. In this research we have started to describe this new form of university as a data-intensive university, one that is increasingly challenged by a data-centric economy and polity. Associational modes of thinking are particularly encouraged through concepts of streaming, surfing, or algorithmic reverie. The possibility of thought is thereby prescribed by a net of software that surrounds and envelopes the mind, creating a new topology of attention. In this research the university, in its work in the creation of critical reason is argued to be a key, if not the key, institution to contest these developments. We explore that these shifting social, political and economic forces that call for a new distinctive role for the university through a method of sonification that works through concepts immanent to the university represented through sound. But the research also raises new questions for the university: How do the academic disciplines respond, what are the implications for their teaching and research? What are the implications for the wider university? What will be the pattern or shape of this new university? It has been argued that the chapel and the library are no longer the centre of a university, so where is the centre of the university in a data-intensive age? This poster documents the processes and conceptual work undertaken in this research and the eventual final audio and visual materials that have been produced. Most notably the poster displays how sonification can highlight and explore through sonic means the conceptual changes in research data and thereby contribute to public digital humanities through sonic forms of communication. In addition to the poster and material copies, which have been published as tape cassette as well as digital versions, audio versions of the entire piece will be shown with the poster display available through headphones and embedded within the poster format using an experimental “sound button” technology. The sonic work is 33 minutes (made up of five distinct but intertextual compositions: 1.Edge 05:33, 2. Core [Overture] 05:12, 3. Cloud 05:17, 4. Mythologies 04:13, 5. Core [Original] 11:03) and was produced and released on 4th October 2019.For more information visit:

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2020
"carrefours / intersections"

Hosted at Carleton University, Université d'Ottawa (University of Ottawa)

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

July 20, 2020 - July 25, 2020

475 works by 1078 authors indexed

Conference cancelled due to coronavirus. Online conference held at Data for this conference were initially prepared and cleaned by May Ning.

Conference website:


Series: ADHO (15)

Organizers: ADHO