Voices as Commons: Secondary Aurality, Appropriation and the Crowd

Abstract: The circulation of sound has become increasingly afforded by social media apps. From voice memos on WhatsApp and Spotify integration in Instagram Stories, to the lip syncing and dance crazes of TikTok. The segmentation of sound and image in circulation makes new juxtapositions of faces and voices possible. This raises important questions about identity, representation and appropriation. This paper takes Jodi Dean's (2016) notion of secondary visuality and the commoning of faces as a starting point, and responds to it in two ways: 1) by formulating a critique or her argument, looking specifically at issues of representation and appropriation, and 2) by expanding her argument to account for the commoning of voices and establishing my own notion of secondary aurality. I argue that secondary aurality is more democratic than secondary visuality, but that its increased focus on visibility and accountability undercuts the kind of collectivity and resistance that Dean's commoning of faces imagines.

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