WHAT DO SOUNDS WANT is a 5-episode podcast about sound, or better yet, about listening through a series of questions and intuitions Radio Papesse and ALMARE have shared while working together on Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U., a sci-fi film & audio novel written and directed by ALMARE.

It is distributed by NERO Editions and available here and wherever you are listening to your podcasts.

Cover by Giordano Cruciani.

Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U. narrates the many adventures of researcher Dorothea, as she extracts – and smuggles – sound finds from the past. It investigates the link between data capitalism, technology, and value creation, reflecting on the use of archaeological artefacts, archives, and memory as instruments for power and control.  

Throughout the episodes of this podcast series, with the help of artists, scholars, and researchers, we will attempt to unfold the themes behind the film. It will be an intense journey, moving between listening practices as tools to shape the world (or our perception of it), the socio-political economy of sound and data, questions about sonic fiction and sonic weapons

We’d like to invite you to challenge how you listen, and most of all… to enjoy the ride. 

We’ll be accompanied by guests including Brandon LaBelle, Juliette Volcler, Aura Satz, Steve Goodman, Reem Shadid, Giada Dalla Bontà, Holger Schulze, Deborah Lupton and Audrey Amsellem.

EPISODE 1 | Bodies & Spaces

The sci-fi audio novel Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U. follows the story of researcher Dorothea Ïesj as she extracts and smuggles sound finds from the past. The world she lives in is inspired by pseudo-scientific theories such as archaeoacoustics (developed in the 19th century at the same time as the invention and development of recording technologies) which suggested the possibility of tracing acoustic phenomena of the past that remained “engraved” in matter. 

In our world, extracting sounds is currently impossible, but plausible and this hypothesis prompts reflection on its consequences in terms of social control and monitoring and these reflections bring to the surface questions about the political dimension of sound in public space.The first episode of this podcast reflects on some of those questions and on how listening practices may be used as tools for critical thinking and for the tuning and re-tuning of power dynamics.

We talked about it with Reem Shadid, Juliette Volcler, Giada Dalla Bontà and Brandon LaBelle reflecting on how sound may shape the perception of the world we live in and how, through its complexities, questions of ethics and power do emerge.

EPISODE 2 | War games & Fireworks

In the audio-fiction Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U., the protagonist is the recipient of a scholarship financed by the powerful organisation Societas Paleoacusticæ Universalis, better known as the S.P.U., and other private financiers linked to the war industry. Dorothea deals mostly with sound artefacts related to 20th century military actions, such as those mentioned in Sonic Warfare, a book in which Steve Goodman focused his studies on the liminal areas of sound perception and the many ways sound can affect the body. The second episode of What Do Sounds Want? deals with what happens when sound is used as a weapon; we discuss this with Steve Goodman, who himself is a scholar, musician and DJ known as Kode9, founder of the historic Hyperdub label, along with the artist Aura Satz, who in her project Preemptive Listening investigates the way we relate to emergency sound signals. The episode closes by listening to Sonic Weapons from Latin America by the artist Ananda Costa.

EPISODE 3 | Sound artifacts & Lively Data

Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U. investigates the link between data capitalism, technology, and value creation, reflecting on the use of archaeological artifacts, archives, and memory as instruments of power and control: what happens when everything, every surface and object can record us? When we are subject to a pervasive acoustic surveillance

Well, this is not exactly 100% science fiction. It is not something to worry about... in the future. This is real. The datafication of our bodies is real and this datafication affects identity formation and as individuals come to perceive themselves and others through the lens of data. To better understand how people and their digital data make each other, and to single out the relation between data, sound, recording and listening practices, we’ve spoken with sociologist Deborah Lupton, author of books such as The Quantified Self or Data Selves, and with Columbia University lecturer Audrey Amsellem, who’s been writing a great deal about sound and surveillance.


EPISODE 4 | Techno Cities & Sonic Fiction

In 1998, the London publishing house Quartet Books published More Brilliant Than The Sun. Adventures in Sonic Fiction by Kodwo Eshun. Today, the concept of Sonic Fiction is applied in the fields of music theory, sound studies, cultural studies, experimental music, sound art and even political theory. “Sonic Fiction is a tool for anyone who wants to write about music, culture, for people passionate about club culture, artists, thinkers and activists. Sonic fiction is not a label to be applied taxonomically, but rather a vessel that is triggered by sensations moving from the outside to the inside, objects in which music materialises”. These are the words of Holger Schulze, professor of musicology at the University of Copenhagen and coordinator of the Sound Studies Lab. In this episode of What Do Sounds Want?, together with him and Giada Della Bontà, we retrace the history of the notion of Sonic Fiction and its implications. Last but not least, we go back to Steve Goodman and his sonic fiction Astro-Darien.


This podcast is part of Life Chronicles of Dorothea Ïesj S.P.U., a project by ALMARE curated by Radio Papesse, promoted in collaboration with Timespan and produced thanks to the support of the Italian Council – a program to promote Italian art by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture, Fondazione CR Firenze and Fondazione CRT.

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