FSAC Graduate Colloquium: Activity (York University, February 28-March 1, 2020)

22nd Annual Film Studies Association of Canada Graduate Colloquium: Activity

York University, Toronto, Canada.
February 28 – March 1, 2020
Learn more: http://www.filmstudies.ca/category/grad-students/grad-colloq

Echoic Re-Presencing: Towards a Feminist Media-Archaeological Listening  

Abstract: This paper considers the work filmmaker Aura Satz, particularly her film Oramics: Atlantis Anew (2011), which addresses the work of Daphne Oram, a British inventor and composer whose contributions to electronic music have been routinely overlooked. Attending to Satz’s interest in the f “unsung pockets of history,” this paper will address her work in sonic terms, focusing in particular on Wolfgang Ernst’s materialist theories of media-archaeological listening and sonicity, which favour “the technical signifier rather than […] the acoustic or musical signified.” However, Ernst’s perspective, which aligns with a non-discursive approach characteristic of the broader field of media archeology, is subject to recurrent critiques from feminist scholars who highlight the lack of regard for the social structures and asymmetrical power relations that undergrid technical objects and their exclusion from teleological historical narratives. Through a close reading of Satz’s film as a feminist text, I consider her materialist orientation as an intervention in archival practice and a challenge to the conventions of documentary cinema. This paper also explores the affordances and limitations of a media-archaeological perspective, suggesting that the attention to the erasure of women’s labour in histories of sound and technology posits a necessary extension to this mode of enquiry. Considering recent feminist interventions in media archaeology, as well as critiques in sound studies that caution against the presumed neutrality of the listening subject, I propose a framework of media-archaeological listening as echoic re-presencing. Drawing on Vivian Sobchack’s advocacy of re-presencing, rather than representing, and Annie Goh’s writing on echo as a diffractive figuration in situated knowledge production, I suggest that Satz approaches such a method of echoic re-presencing in their excavation of the sonic past through a feminist lens.