Recording and Listening in the Biology of Bird Song from 1880 to 1980 (video)

In Culture
Written by  Jip Schreibers Wednesday, 10 April 2013 08:55
PhD dissertation Joeri Bruyninckx

In general, science is regarded as a predominantly visual practice in which other senses are deemed less important. However, some parts of scientific processes actually do require specific sensory skills, such as listening. This historical research therefore examined how scientists, more specifically ornithologists and biologists in the study of bird sounds, have used and still use listening techniques in their process.


Joeri Bruyninckx Student video team: Jip Schreibers and Janka Dekanovska
It seems that sound recordings increasingly disqualified human listening as a research instrument over time. Consequently, the analysis of bird sounds moved from the field to the laboratory. However, an experienced and vigilant ear still remained to identify certain patterns or uncover potential errors.  This study then also shows how culture and science might be related and porous the line often seems to be.

This study is part of a larger research project of the significance of the auditory element in science which historically was seen as a less objective and legitimate instrument than the visual element.

Joeri Bruyninckx will defend his PhD on Sound Science; Recording and Listening in the Biology of Bird Song from 1880 – 1980 on 19 April 2013.
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