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School of Music, Theatre & Dance pres.

CANCELED Department of Performing Arts Technology Seminar: Jennifer Hsieh

“Techno-auditory Engagements, or “Did you hear that?”: Noise-making in Urban Taiwan”

In accordance with the Unversity-wide measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this performance has been canceled.

When is a sound heard as noise? How does one communicate what is noise to others? Drawing upon ethnographic research on Taiwan’s present-day noise control system, this talk examines the transformation of aural experience into contrasting modes of representation: decibel measurements and audio recordings. While decibel measurements are valued by government officials as objective, quantifiable indicators of noise, audio recordings are commonly used by Taipei city residents as an alternative, contextualized method to document the presence of noise. The emergence of two competing forms of “making noise” calls attention to the unique challenge of reproducing aural experience so that it may be recognizable and shared by others. In this talk, I argue that Taipei residents and environmental inspectors participate in an economy of machine listening, consisting of the decibel meter and home recording device, that aims to reconfigure auditory experience from the individual to the social. While acoustic ecologist R. Murray Schafer has drawn attention to the denigrating effects of mechanical reproduction on the auditory environment, residents and state actors in Taiwan actually come to know noise through the tools of mechanical reproduction.

Jennifer Hsieh is currently working on a book project, tentatively entitled From Festival to Decibel: Making Noise in Urban Taiwan, which is a historical and ethnographic study of the scientific, bureaucratic, and audiovisual practices underlying the production of environmental noise from early twentieth-century Taiwan to the present. Dr. Hsieh examines the efforts of residents, policy makers, and environmental inspectors to transform the fleeting qualities of sound into a regulatory object. By analyzing noise control practices of three separate political regimes in Taiwan, Dr. Hsieh investigates how perceptual acts of hearing and listening are tied to geopolitical questions of citizenship and belonging.

Dr. Hsieh has worked in a number of capacities to facilitate equity and inclusion for students, such as tutoring bilingual youth, developing leadership skills among underrepresented students, and mentoring international students. Dr. Hsieh's background in community-based public service in Dallas and Boston further informs Dr. Hsieh's commitment to supporting students from diverse backgrounds, including those from first-generation and immigrant households. In Dr. Hsieh's teaching and mentoring, Dr. Hsieh work towards providing an inclusive learning environment for students by attending to different learning styles, linguistic competencies, and knowledge practices.


  • Free - no tickets required

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