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Sonic Envelopes
'Sonic Envelopes', The Senses and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, March, 2008. ISBN 9781847882059 pp. 61-76 This article proposes a new interdisciplinary and aesthetic figure of sonic space, the ‘sonic envelope’. The article provides a close scholarly examination of two primary texts by philosopher Henri Bergson, ‘Time and Free Will’ (1888) and 'Matter and Memory' (1896), together with a critical account of audio-visual artist Janet Cardiff’s sound-walks, to present a concise and precise theory of how architectural and spatial relations are enveloped in sound. By analysing Bergson’s philosophy of sonic matter and Cardiff’s sonic walks, the article suggests that together, sonic theory and audio artworks generate a particularly spatio-temporal form of aesthetic experience, which can inform understandings of the inhabitation and use of the urban environment. The article is the first interdisciplinary evaluation of Cardiff’s work as both a sonic and a spatial artwork, developing cultural geography, urban and public-art examinations of her work (e.g. Pile, Rendell). It extends philosophical explorations of Bergson’s writing on space by showing how it is located in sense perception of the built environment. It challenges universalizing and dematerialized phenomenological theories of sense-perception in architecture (e.g. Pallasmaa) to suggest that sonic spaces are unique, material events. An early version of the article was selected for the UK’s Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, London, 2003. Public and academic talks on Cardiff have been given at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2003; the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths College, 2004; UCL Lunch-time Lecture Series, 2006; MA Fine Art/Curating Goldsmiths College, 2006; Society of Historical and Cultural Geographers London University, 2006; and the international conference ‘Encounter, Curiosity and Method: The Making of Practice’, Tate Britain (with Cardiff & Miller, and US academics Caroline Jones and Molly Nesbitt).
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  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
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