Spatial Sound

A New Technology? On the Ontology of Techno in Space (2019-2020)

Sydney Schelvis

During his residency, Sydney Schelvis  studied the potentials of 4DSOUND technology for an embodied engagement with techno music. Central to this research was the moving subject, i.e. the physically engaged human, rather than the listening subject. Techno music is highly persuasive in inducing rhythmic synchronisation in the dancer, which forms the basis for the interaction with techno’s musical materiality. As a generic specification of Christopher Small’s musicking, Schelvis proposes the verb technoing to denote an embodied engagement with techno. Hence, a trance-like corporeal entrainment, or immersion, comes to the fore as being the telos of techno.

Schelvis’s artistic research project is largely based on embodied music cognition theory. Quoting the field’s pioneer Marc Leman, ‘[e]mbodied music cognition entails a view on mind, matter, and the human body. It conceives the musical mind as embodied, that is, as mediated by the human body.’1 Therefore, the composition — or “auditory notes” — of Schelvis’s research residency project addresses beat-induction, expressive alignment, and the motivations for embodied engagement as theoretical elements distilled from the field of embodied music cognition.

Techno’s shift in focus from explorative to danceable underpins the paradox in techno’s logos: the musical stylistics that once signified a futurist sound have become a fixed norm themselves. This norm, in turn, engendered techno’s telos as an immersive embodied engagement with these stylistics. Based in a type of techno that undermines its origins, this telos thus bolsters the paradox in techno’s logos. Hence, the question arises whether paralleling developments of technology can engender a convincing reconsideration of techno’s essence and resolve its logos’s paradox.


1. Leman, Marc. Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation Technology. The MIT Press, 2008, p. 235.