Past Public Program
Artis presented artist Sari Carel and media scholar Jonathan Sterne for an evening of conversation at Cabinet, addressing early experiments in sound reproduction and their link to contemporary sound culture. Organized and moderated by curator Leah Abir, the evening examined the relationship between sound and image, art and science, and imagination and technique through the early device known as the phonoautograph. Invented by Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857, the phonoautograph was a sound visualizing machine that generated images of sound vibrations that resembled automatic drawings.
This early audiovisual mechanism was a starting point for Sari Carel’s Semaphore Island, a work that uses phonoautograph drawings generated by sound recordings of extinct birds, as well as for Jonathan Sterne’s book The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, which outlines a comprehensive cultural historiography of sound. The event featured footage of the only functioning phonoautograph in existence today.