n°3 – April 18, Sound

The Aura of the Aural

Thomas Edison and his phonograph

Originally published in: Ella Finer, The Aura of Aural, «Performance Research», vol. 22.n.3, April/May 2017 pp. 15-20


Compelled and confounded by the distance between the speaker and receiver in early telephonic communication, an anonymous reporter of the Scientific American called it ‘an airy nowhere, inhabited by voices and nothing else.’ Conceiving spatial and temporal distances as areas which can host the event of the voice, this article attends to the voice on the record as a particular example of transmission into the airy nowhere. Approaching how reproduction complicates the distance the voice performs in and through; and experimenting with how the material of the record might make the voice more material in its sounding, the research considers how the record of the voice has its own ‘auratic’ presence in the instance of its replaying.

This article is available in: ITA

This article is published here


I was born and grew up in London in the 80s and 90s, and returned here after being in Glasgow for six years to do my doctoral research at Roehampton researching materialities of the female voice. Landing back in London I realised how quickly the city had changed in so short a time. This awareness of the speed of change - especially relating to who gets to take up space and at what social costs – has stuck with me. I make work with collective the International Western about this speed, about dream-homes in the ruins of the city’s industrial past, and about what we describe as “the technosocial mechanisms of contemporary living”. Alongside teaching Drama, Theatre and Performance at institutions across the UK, most recently at Kingston and Birkbeck, I make work with sound and produce interdisciplinary events about sound and subjective response. I am Adjunct Professor of Performance Studies at Syracuse University, London and a trustee of Longplayer.