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Talk on Digital Earplugs and the Future of Listening

posted Apr 8, 2016, 5:22 AM by Mack Hagood

I'll be giving a talk at Miami University's Altman Symposium on The Senses, Friday, April 15, 2016  at 10:15 am. Entitled "Hearing ‘Here’: Sound, Space, and Remediation," the presentation uses a new brand of digital earplugs to explore the future of listening and ask what kinds of listeners we want to be. 

Interview in Atlas Obscura

posted Apr 8, 2016, 5:12 AM by Mack Hagood

I was interviewed about my research on Irv Teibel for a really nice longform piece in Atlas Obscura written by Carla Giaimo, "The Man Who Recorded, Tamed and Then Sold Nature Sounds to America."

The Tinnitus Trope: Acoustic Trauma in Narrative Film

posted Sep 11, 2015, 11:24 AM by Mack Hagood

This summer I was thrilled to contribute to a new Cine-Files Dossier on Film Sound, edited by the terrific sound scholar from Northwestern, Jacob Smith. My piece concerned one of my favorite/least favorite topics, tinnitus. As someone with persistent "ringing in the ears" and who does ethnographic research on others with this condition, I usually study tinnitus in itself, as well as the ways people use media to ameliorate it. However, in this piece, I study the cinematic representation of tinnitus to see what it might suggest about changing notions of selfhood over the past few decades. Plus, there's a timeline! And a spectrograph! How empirical of me!

Spring Conference Appearances

posted Mar 15, 2015, 12:21 PM by Mack Hagood

I'll be presenting my work at a couple of conferences this spring. At the Society of Cinema and Media Studies meeting in Montreal, I will be on a panel titled Studying Media Through Disability, chaired by Liz Ellcessor and including Lori Lopez and Krystal Cleary. We will be presenting work from an upcoming volume, Media Disability Studies, edited by Liz Ellcessor and Bill Kirkpatrick. In my talk, "Disability and Biomediation," I'll draw on my ethnographic research on tinnitus ("ringing in the ears") to forward a framework for the study of biomediation--that is, the many ways that technologies mediate lived experiences of ability and disability. (Friday, March 27, 2015, 9:00-10:45, Session K2)

I'll also be at the International Communication Association conference in Puerto Rico, where Travis Vogan and I will present our paper "The 12th Man: Fan Noise in the Contemporary National Football League." Using Seattle’s 12th Man and the discourses surrounding it, we consider the relationship between sound, space, and fandom in the contemporary National Football League, and the broader context of sport.  By considering the 12th Man’s sonic relations to fandom, space, games, and television, we demonstrate how the league has shifted from regulating fan noise as an unwelcome interruption to cultivating it as a communicative resource that adds value to games, both in stadia and on TV. The panel is called Communities of Sound: Affect and Aesthetics in the Sonic Domain. (Mon, May 25, 10:30 to 11:45, Caribe Hilton, Conference Room 7)

New Article: "Unpacking a Punch"

posted Jul 31, 2014, 11:52 AM by Mack Hagood

I make a foray into film sound in the summer 2014 issue of Cinema Journal. "Foray" sounds a tad aggressive, but that's appropriate enough, as the piece centers on the sound of the cinematic punch. In "Unpacking a Punch: Transduction and the Sound of Combat Foley in Fight Club," I unpack the production and impact of the Foley punch in David Fincher’s film to theorize the sonic transmission of affect in cinema. 

Formally, this article is inspired by my personal history as an electric guitarist. I use the cinematic punch as a sort of signal source and treat three influential theories or paradigms from sound studies--syncresis, schizophonia, and transduction--as stomp boxes, plugging them in, ripping them out, and seeing how it all changes our perception of the sound of the punch. I wrote the piece because I wanted to better understand the ontology of film sound--especially the neglected art of Foley. I also wanted to revisit postmodernist concepts such as the simulacrum, which figure (though not, perhaps, by name) so prominently in people's everyday media anxieties and in films such as Fight Club, which thematically centers on "copies of copies" and a perceived lack of authenticity in a mediated capitalist society. In the process, I also wound up revisiting one of the classic debates in film soundtrack studies: Is the soundtrack a reproduction or a representation? 

So what came of my signal chain experiments? The short story is, I came to the conclusion that neither "reproduction" nor "representation" quite does justice to the mediated transmission of energy and affect that happens between Foley artists and moviegoers. There's a visceral, impactful connection happening there, even if the pasting of a digitized punch sound to an unrelated punch image perfectly exemplifies the simulacrum, "the copy without an original." In the end, I advocate for the adoption of my last paradigmatic stompbox, transduction, as a model for a soundtrack analysis that allows for authenticity in electronically mediated experiences--and that also points to the already-mediated nature of aural subjectivity. 

If you get chance to check it out, let me know. I'd love to get your feedback.

Review of Making Noise

posted Jan 23, 2014, 5:26 PM by Mack Hagood

My review of Hillel Schwartz's astounding and confounding Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang & Beyond will soon appear in Cultural Studies, but you can read it now

I-69 Radio Doc Now Online

posted Jan 19, 2013, 8:35 AM by Mack Hagood   [ updated Jan 19, 2013, 8:48 AM ]

This is part one of the three-part documentary radio series created for WFHB by students in my I-69 class at Indiana University's Department of Communication and Culture. Members of the tiny Bethel Christian Church have mixed feelings about the new stretch of Interstate 69 being built in rural Southern Indiana. They hope the road will bring jobs, but they know it will divide their community and affect a delicate soundscape they believe connects them to God. 

This piece features the voices of Jim Wade, Pastor David Self, and Charles Ramsden of Bethel Church in Springville, Indiana. This story was reported by students Alyson Arrendale, Jen Samson, and Leroy Velasquez. It was edited by me. My co-executive producer of I-69: Sounds and Stories was Matt Guschwan. Produced in partnership with WFHB and Traditional Arts Indiana.

Here's the original intro that was read when the piece aired:

During the summer, twelve students took a new class at Indiana University called Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69. Led by Mack Hagood, a PhD candidate and Associate Instructor in the Department of Communication and Culture, the students broke into research teams to interview rural residents and record natural sounds in the proposed pathway of the I-69 extension. They wanted to learn how I-69 will impact life stories and soundscapes in southwestern Indiana.

Today in part one of our series I-69: Sounds and Stories we visit the community of Bethel Christian Church, located in Springville, Indiana, about 17 miles south of Bloomington. This small church, which dates back to the late 1800s, is not easy to find today, but it will soon be near a major interstate—though not near an onramp or offramp. The twenty or so regular church members hope the interstate will bring economic benefits to the region. However, they are saddened that the highway will cost them two beloved elders in the church, physically divide their community, and overrun the natural sounds they love—sounds that they believe bring them closer not only to nature, but to God. In this report, you will hear the voices of church member Jim Wade, Pastor David Self, and church member Charles Ramsden, who is losing his home to I-69 and leaving the Bethel Church community.

Interview on Penn Annenberg's 3620 Podcast

posted Nov 26, 2012, 6:28 PM by Mack Hagood   [ updated Nov 26, 2012, 6:31 PM ]

I was recently interviewed about my tinnitus research for 3620, a podcast produced by the doctoral students of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Producer Kevin Gotkin and I discussed the neurophysiology of phantom head noise and the curious ways the condition has been represented and communicated online. It was a fun chat and Kevin produced a great piece. (MP3 link)

Listening to Tinnitus

posted Aug 3, 2012, 8:22 AM by Mack Hagood

I recently wrote a short article for the sound studies blog Sounding Out, called "Listening to Tinnitus: Roles of Media When Hearing Breaks Down." It's a "wide net" piece that points to a number of opportunities for sound/media scholars and the tinnitus community to learn from one another. Tinnitus ("ringing in the ears") is a tricky problem space where media are variously seen as cause and cure. Media are also used to objectify and publicize this poorly understood and subjective condition. However, media advocacy and message boards can also exacerbate people's negative experience of their tinnitus--and potentially lead others to problematize their own previously benign or unnoticed tinnitus. Closer study of the relations between listening, discourse, and media is needed.

Society of Professional Journalists Award

posted Jun 18, 2012, 10:00 AM by Mack Hagood   [ updated Jun 18, 2012, 10:01 AM ]

I'm thrilled to (belatedly) announce that a series I produced with my Indiana University students and community radio station WFHB won “Best Radio Use of Sound 2011-12” from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists. It's worth noting that this was not a student award--this work won first place in an award designated for professional journalists! 

In the class, Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69, students did ethnographic fieldwork, producing a three-part radio documentary on a controversial new highway and the changes it will bring to Indiana communities and soundscapes. Congrats to my fellow series editors Matt Guschwan and Cara Weaver as well as all the students who did the interviews and field recordings that made the series possible: Alyson Arrendale, John Dupper, Barton Girdwood, Kristin McKain, Lauren Hersch, Blake Lowe, Bryan Marple, Jen Samson, Nick Tolson, Michael Vega, Leroy Velasquez, and Cara Weaver.   

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