The Rhythmic Event: Art, Media and the Sonic (MIT Press, 2014)
The sonic has come to occupy center stage in the arts and humanities. In the age of computational media, sound and its subcultures can offer more dynamic ways of accounting for bodies, movements, and events. In The Rhythmic Event, Eleni Ikoniadou explores traces and potentialities prompted by the sonic but leading to contingent and unknowable forces outside the periphery of sound. She investigates the ways in which recent digital art experiments that mostly engage with the virtual dimensions of sound suggest alternate modes of perception, temporality, and experience. Ikoniadou draws on media theory, digital art, and philosophical and technoscientific ideas to work toward the articulation of a media philosophy that rethinks the media event as abstract and affective.
The Rhythmic Event seeks to define the digital media artwork as an assemblage of sensations that outlive the space, time, and bodies that constitute and experience it. Ikoniadou proposes that the notion of rhythm–detached, however, from the idea of counting and regularity—can unlock the imperceptible, aesthetic potential enveloping the artwork. She speculates that addressing the event on the level of rhythm affords us a glimpse into the nonhuman modalities of thought proper to the digital and hidden in the gaps between strict definitions (e.g., human/sonic/digital) and false dichotomies (e.g., virtual/real). Operating at the margins of perception, the rhythmic artwork summons an obscure zone of sonic thought, which considers the event according to its power to become.
“The Rhythmic Event is a deep plunge into an aesthetics of experience expanded into pattern, perception and sound, and onwards into an abstract viscerality. Ikoniadou is a crucial guide to the dark chambers of recent interactive art.”
—Matthew Fuller, Digital Culture Unit, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London
“The Rhythmic Event rethinks the digital in striking terms. Here the digital is relational, contingent, and always mixed up with the incalculable. It also rethinks rhythm. Here rhythm is an ongoing creation of worlds. This is a creation so in excess of our normal range of perception that humans can sense it only with the assistance of groundbreaking work by artists and technologists. It then rethinks time in terms of vibratory potential. It brings all this together beautifully, drawing on unusual examples at the junction of art and technology. The Rhythmic Event makes a major contribution to contemporary thinking about the digital, perception, art, and technology. It is no exaggeration to say that it will make you think about—and feel—the world differently.”
—Andrew Murphie, University of New South Wales, Sydney
“In The Rhythmic Event, Eleni Ikoniadou explores the fringes of acoustic experience. Deftly combining theoretical speculation with close accounts of recent digital artworks, she calls attention to sonic events that we feel rather than directly hear, that move us without our being able to grasp just how, and that open us to a world of microperceptions and suspended temporalities.”
—Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University
“Eleni Ikoniadou’s The Rhythmic Event develops as a speculative-experimental exploration of the abstract materiality of rhythm. Drawing on the work of a range of contemporary philosophers, she constructs an analysis of digital media art practices that works between disciplines. What emerges from her account is a conceptualization of the ‘rhythmicity’ of the event that probes the value of a radical empiricist approach to the microaesthetics of media art forms that operate across both the actual and virtual, human and nonhuman dimensions of contemporary experience.”
—Andrew Goffey, Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, University of Nottingham