Simulated Mediation: A Sonic History of Mediation, Affect and Digital Aesthetics
This dissertation examines the intersection of mediation and simulation as aesthetic strategies, ideologies, and epistemologies, in relation to electronic music and commercial audio technologies. It explores the complex networks of influence between the avant-garde, popular culture and the tools for commercial sound production, such as software plugins, analog and digital emulations of circuits, and modular synthesizers. Throughout this document, the author outlines a philosophy and methodology for a poetics of simulated media applied to sound. Simulated mediation is the simulation of the aesthetic characteristics of media technologies. Simulation, within the context of this dissertation, is defined as the logical abstraction of perceptual information for the purpose of generating perceptually similar information. While there is a technical component to simulation, it is the relationship between the visual and aural output of a technical system and the object it represents that produces a simulation. The author explores the ubiquity of simulated media, as well as the potential for digital aesthetics outside of this framework. Through interviews with composers as well as instrument and effects designers, the author analyzes subjectivity in simulation and its relationship to nostalgia and the uncanny. The author concludes by examining various simulations, including tools they created, by applying the methodologies established therein.