GEOGRAPHIES OF SOUND

Mapping the Next Land – Rebbeck Final


“All utopias require mapping, their social order depends upon and generates a spatial order which reorganizes and improves upon existing models” (16). – Denis Cosgrove, Mappings

The Next Land has no objects, materiality, or physicality whatsoever. It exists exclusively in a temporal dimension. Its only physical grounding consists of a giant mother board that was built and is maintained on Earth by the inhabitants of the Cyborg Utopia – basically, a futuristic, technologically integrated matriarchy that is not dependent on any energy sources familiar to humans today. The purpose of the Next Land is to power as well as process information for the Cyborg Utopia. Basically the information includes anything that we might do on a computer and more. The cyborgs remotely feed information into the motherboard, and energy is created as a byproduct of its processing that powers the Cyborg Utopia. Through this process, the Next Land has replaced electricity and fossil fuels, the internet, and has absorbed the digital archive. Spiritual entities, the sole inhabitants of the Next Land, experience strong emotion and form communities, although the Land does not have or require money or property. Instead its economy consists of nonhierarchical energy exchanges. It is more like an infinitely unsolvable puzzle that constantly shifts and changes as it receives new information from the cyborgs. The spiritual entities facilitate the shifting and puzzle solving. The Next Land and the Cyborg Utopia necessarily exist simultaneously, symbiotically.

This sound walk is a map of the Next Land. Denis Cosgrove describes mapping as a “deceptively simple activity” (1) – merely the measuring and communication of space. The Next Land, however, does not even hypothetically exist in space, so its map can only be sonic, temporal. Still, the listener must walk through as though this place were in space. de Certeau describes the walkers as “follow[ing] the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it” (158). Similarly, Brandon LaBelle describes walking as forming an “…’articulatory process’ that writes and rewrites across the existing syntax of the built through motor action, sensation, and emotional life” (89). Since this hypothetical place exists exclusively within this sonic map, as the listener “walks” through it, she must construct and define the place according to her own experience. The listener is therefore following a map of possibility, one that presents a recording of a potential place for the listener to complete through an articulatory process of walking.

de Certeau describes “the panorama-city,” or a voyeuristic representation of a city, as a “theoretical (that is, visual) simulacrum, in short a picture, whose condition of possibility is an oblivion and misunderstanding of practices” (158). Because this is a sonic and spatially-void experience, a panoramic, visually reductionist representation that de Certeau writes about is impossible. However, few, if any listeners will understand this new place they are “writing” and therefore this sound walk is also inherently a misunderstanding of the practices it represents. The sonic map of the Next Land challenges the listener to reconsider the roles of space and temporality, as well as her own agency when experiencing sound walks.

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