Echo and Narcissus; and the contest for aural space.

Waterhouse, John William; Echo and Narcissus.

Here is the essay Echo and Narcissus; and the contest for urban space, as a PDF
formatted for mobile devices – read it instead of doing Wordle!

In this article, I invite you to journey through the Sonic Commons, a resonant and contested
geography, that encompasses shared human sonic experiences, public, private, and those
imagined through literature. Our journey will touch upon the strong perceptual relationships
between sound, site and memory and the ideological role that architecture, technology and
Capital play in transforming sound to affect and influence a listener’s behaviour.
We will detour around the cacophony of the street riot and the strains of the protest song,
steering clear of the shockwaves of direct conflict in order to explore the more subtle sonic
disturbances affecting our daily life. Our course will examine the inexorable drive towards the
privatisation and technologisation of the public sound realm and the consequent erosion of the
sonic commons – but we shall also encounter strategies of adaptation and resistance.
To guide us through this mythical terrain of aural exchange and transaction the ghosts of Echo
and Narcissus have been recruited as ambassadors of alienation and agents of the dematerialization.
They will demonstrate how sound is detached from its source to be relayed, replayed
and reassigned to serve other agencies. In this regard, the love-crossed pair serves as a
warning that our Sonic Commons, like Liberty and Democracy, only exist by dint of eternal



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