Eco-Sonic Media by Jacob Smith

By Jacob Smith

The unfavourable environmental results of media tradition usually are not frequently said: the gas required to maintain large server farms in operation, landfills packed with excessive tech junk, and the extraction of infrequent minerals for units reliant on them are only the various hidden bills of the modern mediascape. Eco-Sonic Media brings an ecological critique to the heritage of sound media applied sciences so that it will enlarge the environmental undertones in sound experiences and switch up the audio in discussions of greening the media. by way of early and missed types of sound expertise, Jacob Smith seeks to create a revisionist, ecologically conscious heritage of sound media. Delving into the heritage of pre-electronic media like hand-cranked gramophones, relatively green media artifacts equivalent to the shellac discs that preceded using petroleum-based vinyl, early different types of moveable expertise like divining rods, or even using songbirds as family track machines, Smith builds a scaffolding of ancient case experiences to illustrate how “green media archaeology” could make sound reports vibrate at an ecological frequency whereas beginning the ears of eco-criticism. all through this eye-opening and well timed booklet he makes readers extra conscious of the prices and effects in their own media intake via prompting comparisons with non-digital, non-electronic applied sciences and by means of delivering alternative ways during which sound media can develop into eco-sonic media. within the strategy, he forges interdisciplinary connections, opens new avenues of study, and poses clean theoretical questions for students and scholars of media, sound reviews, and modern environmental history.

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Eco-Sonic Media

The unfavorable environmental results of media tradition are usually not usually said: the gas required to maintain large server farms in operation, landfills jam-packed with excessive tech junk, and the extraction of infrequent minerals for units reliant on them are only the various hidden expenditures of the modern mediascape.

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53 Emile Berliner’s first gramophone discs were composed of hard rubber, but his employee Fred Gaisberg made sample records from shellac after he learned that the Newark Durminoid Company was making buttons with the material. 56 In 1906 the newly launched trade journal Talking Machine World claimed that more than six thousand of the thirteen thousand tons of shellac that had been exported from India the previous year had come to the United States—a significant increase from previous years and one due directly to the manufacture of records.

50 We will return to the environmental costs of plastic at the end of the chapter, but Barthes’s discussion of plastic prompts us to return to Latour’s suggestion that a network is less a thing than the recorded movement of a thing. Lac insects were part of an energy cycle in which sunlight was translated into tree sap, and tree sap into resin. Human actants continued that process of translation, transforming brood lac to stick lac, then to seed lac, then to shellac. In these regions of the Green Disc topography, what circulates is a form of matter that “remembers” its previous existence as energy by maintaining the plasticity of that earlier state.

Spring-wound, acoustic playback was one of the first aspects of the Green Disc network to disappear, since electric motors were sold as attachments to phonograph players in the early 1920s. 95 Electric motors were marketed to consumers as a modern convenience that reduced physical exertion. 96 A few years later an ad for the Roberts Electric Phonograph Motor Company shows a woman and three children all comfortably seated on a sofa and chairs, listening to the phonograph. ”97 Though undoubtedly convenient, electrical playback meant that record listeners no longer participated in the energy costs of phonographic playback through their muscle power.

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