Special Lecture and Performance
Nick Prior:
On Vocal Assemblages:
From the Microphone to Miku

As the culmination of his three-month visiting fellowship at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, Dr. Nick Prior, Sociologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, will present a session based on his cultural sociological work on electronic and digital mediations of the voice.
The session will be split into two parts. In the first half, he will deliver a 45-minute summary of his research on vocalities, with the title: “On Vocal Assemblages: From the Microphone to Miku”. In the second half, he will perform three short electronic music scores inspired by his research in Japan: “The Voices of Akihabara”, “Jihanki (vending machine)” and “Tokyo After Hours”. These scores are derived from audio samples collected in the field and illustrate two themes: the constant and abundant foldings of human and non-human artefacts (such as vending machines) in urban landscapes pulsating with noise and silence; and the interweave of culture, technique and style as they play across the rhythms of everyday life.

Date & Time: 18:30-20:00, June 13, 2017
Venue: Studio A, Senju Campus, Tokyo University of the Arts
* No Admission, no reservation required.
* Please come to the venue directly on the day.
* The talk will be in English followed by Japanese summery by Prof. Yoshitaka Mouri, and there will be a short Q&A session.

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“On Vocal Assemblages: From the Microphone to Miku”
Where does the voice go in music’s modern era? How is it composed, decomposed, constructed, reconstructed and made apparent? What are its signs and dislocations, its logics and movements? Where are its grounds and ideologies located? What are the expectations and reasons for its presence as a particular kind of expression and information?
In critical dialogue with precepts from post-humanism and actor network theory, this talk will attempt to survey the domain of the singing voice as a plane of tensions, mediations and pleasures: between, on the one hand, the hermeneutic density of personhood and identity, where to have a voice is to be a social agent assigned a place in a system of meaning; and on the other hand, as an object of manipulation, where to hear the voice dramatically transformed into something beyond human is a source of sonic pleasure. Indeed, just as the voice progressively loses its connotations of essence in the modern world so it becomes an object of digital transactions, switches and duets. And yet, in this process of objectification, where popular music hints at a new kind of transparency about its very artifice, the index of the human is never fully displaced. Despite being seduced by machinic vocalities, we can never, it seems, quite let go of the fleshy.
(Nick Prior)

Nick Prior
Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, UK and Visiting Fellow at the Tokyo University of the Arts. His research interests span the sociology of music, digital technology, urbanism, popular culture in Japan and the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu. He is an author of Popular Music, Technology and Society: Digital Formations (Sage, forthcoming), co-editor of the collection Digital Sociology (Palgrave, 2013) and editor of the journal Cultural Sociology. He is also an author of a range of articles exploring how digital technologies associate with and favor transformations in popular music culture. He is currently undertaking research on the virtual idol Hatsune Miku and on electronic and digital mediations of the voice. He is a part-time electronic and computer musician.

Organized by Mouri Yoshitaka Lab, Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts.

Faculty Room, Department of Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices, Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts
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