Thinking with Susanne Langer: Sonar Entanglements with the Non-human

Open Philosophy 4 (1):149-161 (2021)
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An aesthetic and epistemological departure from ocular centrism has occurred in the wake of current technological evolutions and the posthuman turn. The sonic exploration of the more-than-human takes artists and philosophers beyond anthropomorphism to reveal the hidden patterning of life forms and yet-unfathomed universes. The conflation of nature with culture is one shift that takes place when thinking with sounds and rhythm and studying our environments. On an ontological level, a reordering of subject and object occurs when encountering the reciprocal relationship of sounding. What if culture is actually nature? How does technology connect with botany, and what does it mean to engage the environment with the expanded tactility of the ear? This essay observes current inter-species practices in sound art by revisiting philosopher Susanne Langer’s theory of an embodied and embedded mind. Her “new key” in philosophy emphasizes music as a dynamic sound-pattern to conceptualize a semiology of artistic forms that renders human feeling in regard to non-human antecedents. This serves as a tool to trace the preconceptual substrata of mind, leading us through process-oriented studies of nature and psychophysical affect. Thinking with Langer involves the interconnection of natural systems, behavioural patterns, and human expression, which emerges in art.

Author's Profile

Lona Gaikis
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Alumnus)


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