Isea 2022 - Possibles



June 13th

Full paper / Unrecording Nature

Authors: Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

Work: By discussing unknown histories about early sound recordings in South Asia, the paper aims to shed light on the discourse on how do we inhabit and relate with nature, and transform our environments on the media.


Theme: Sound recording, early media technologies, Global South, decoloniality, nature, indigenous knowledge, mediation, pre-modern sonic cultures, shellac, environmental sounds

Venue: CCCB

More information:

  • Abstract: The colonial import of early media technologies, e.g. sound recording in Global South faced a stiff resistance from the local practitioners. In this paper, I am interested to investigate why leading South Asian musicians and sound practitioners were not enthusiastic about recording their voices on the shellac discs; and for a long time resisted recording their improvisational sounds as they were: offerings to nature and the situated environment. What were the reasons of their contention and resistance? I argue, the pre-colonial sound practitioners feared that recording technology would contaminate their performances by mutating the natural and embedded connections they uphold in their practice. By discussing this unknown history, the paper aims to shed light on the discourse on how do we inhabit and relate with nature, and transform our environments on the media.

  • Biography: Budhaditya Chattopadhyay is an artist, media practitioner, researcher, and writer, and a professor at Critical Media Lab, Basel, Switzerland. Incorporating diverse media, creative technologies and research, Chattopadhyay produces works for large-scale installation and live performance addressing contemporary issues of environment and ecology, migration, race and decoloniality. Chattopadhyay has received numerous residencies, fellowships, and international awards. His works have been widely exhibited, performed or presented across the globe, and released by Gruenrekorder (DE) and Touch (UK). Chattopadhyay has an expansive body of scholarly publications in the areas of media art history, theory and aesthetics, cinema and sound studies in leading peer-reviewed journals. He is the author of three books, The Nomadic Listener (2020), The Auditory Setting (2021), and Between the Headphones (2021). Chattopadhyay holds a PhD in Artistic Research and Sound Studies from the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, and an MA in New Media from the Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University.


  • CCCB

Montalegre, 5 - 08001 Barcelona

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