Jonathan Sterne: Stretching Time: Quantum Legacies in Analog and Digital Media

Please join the Digital Studies Workshop for a lecture by Jonathan Sterne (McGill University)

When: September 25, 4PM
Where: Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 100
Abstract: This talk examines the lesser-known work and legacy of Dennis Gabor. Gabor was a physicist famous for inventing holography. But he also applied quantum theory to sound, and in so doing offered an important corrective to prevailing interpretations of wave theories of sound derived from Joseph Fourier’s work. To prove his point, Gabor built a device called the “kinematic frequency compressor,” which could time-stretch or pitch-shift audio independently of the other operation, a feat previously considered impossible in the analog domain. After considering the machine, I trace its technical and cultural descendants in advertising, cinema, avant-garde music, and today in the world’s most popular audio software, Ableton Live.

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