ISBN 978-1-913029-81-4


Social Dissonance

  • Preface by Ray Brassier

original edition
£14.99 / $17.95
  • Paperback
  • 175×115mm
  • 224pp
  • Cover Image: Miguel Prado

In contemporary conditions, where capitalist relations permeate the most intimate forms of communication, the aesthetic and sociopolitical have become inextricable from each other. Meanwhile, works in Sound Studies continue to seek out sound ‘itself’. But if the aesthetic can claim no autonomy, and if the agency of both artist and audience is socially constituted, then rather than seeking an unmediated experience of sound, what becomes necessary is to investigate the social mediations already present within our experience of the sonorous.

In order to do this artist, musician, performer and theorist Mattin sets out an investigation into the concept of alienation as constitutive part of subjectivity but also as enabling possibility for performance and practice in order to understand he calls social dissonance: a structural form of cognitive dissonance emerging out of our individual narcissism and conflation of selfhood with subjectivity. In other words, social dissonance is the discrepancy between what we do (buying and selling commodities) and what we believe about ourselves as non-commodified entities.

In shifting the emphasis from the sonic to the social, we discover that social dissonance is the territory within which we already find ourselves, the condition we inhabit. In order to deal practically with this, Mattin scored social dissonance as part of documenta14 in Athens and Kassel. For 180 days four players used members of the audience as instruments, who then hear themselves and reflect on their own conception and self-presentation. The score Social Dissonance claims that, by amplifying alienation in performance and participation can enable us a new understanding of structural alienation or what philosopher Ray Brassier in his preface calls ‘not the experience of estrangement, but the estrangement of experience.’