Tools for an enlightened dictatorship: embedding sound logos into people’s body

…or: territorialization of people’s body by means of soundmarks.

A soundmark is a landmark made of sound. In the frame of acoustic ecology, it characterizes an area, but in this very case it characterizes a body/a person. See the studies of Murray Schafer about soundscape and acoustic ecology, namely the book from 1977 The Tuning of the World (ISBN 0-394-40966-3), where he defines the soundmark.


  • Context

1. Let’s imagine a dictatorship (enlightened?) where every individual is forced to have a multimedia device installed in his/her body.

2. This device is controlled by the dictatorship and receives commands or data via wireless network.

3. The dictatorship decides to apply a particular sound (a sort of soundmark) to people, based on their behaviour. For example, tax evaders would be characterized by a special sound and everybody would recognize it.
4. The sound-logo may vary, depending on the behaviour of the citizen.


  • An example at Cittadellarte, November 6th 2015, 22:00
    (Performance by Alessandro Perini)

1. The logo of Third Paradise by Michelangelo Pistoletto, founder of Cittadellarte, has been rearranged so that the two symmetric curves, enchained one to each other, would form a sound wave:







2. This sound wave is a sort of DNA which generates a particular soundscape. Not only it constitutes the timbre of the sound (microscopic level), but it aso controls amplitude envelopes, pitch and rhythm structures:(2:30 excerpt from the generative sound environment. Note the accordion-like timbre derived from the Third Paradise logo-waveshape.)



3. This sound environment is worn by the designed individual, by means of a mobile device capable of receiving sound-streams wirelessly. Cittadellarte has incorporated his sound-logo into the inhabitant. The body of the inhabitant has been territorialized by a superior entity.




(A portable Bluetooth speaker was used in the performance.)


➥ A hacker could sneak into the software or the streaming system, so that the value of the soundmark could be sabotaged or tweaked.

This (provocative) project was elaborated at a residency module (2nd-6th of November, 2015) at Fondazione Pistoletto – Cittadellarte in Biella (IT), called Creating Territorialities (part of Unidee – Territoriality, Identity, Place and Possession; mentors G. Checola and T. Gliardi).

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Un pensiero su “Tools for an enlightened dictatorship: embedding sound logos into people’s body

  1. I suppose it is an advance on the idea of branding thieves or cutting off their hands or cutting the noses off people who commit adultery – all of which are still practised in some parts of the world.
    Running with your idea, perhaps it could be developed so that it fits inside the a person’s voice box and commits them to speaking about their crimes or infidelities in their own voice. I can imagine the look of horror on their faces as they make public what was hidden.

    But thinking forward, after a while a person would become used to the voice or the sound – it would become almost a friend – a part of them. Soon the meaning of their crime would dull into insignificance and they would be insulated against it. In fact, they would have no reason to prevent them committing the same crime again.

    Soon, everyone who does not have a sound box would feel left out – like people who have not had tattoos sometimes do nowadays.

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