Date of Award
Master of Science in Industrial Archaeology (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Social Sciences
Susan R Martin
A distinguishing feature of the discipline of archaeology is its reliance upon sensory dependant investigation. As perceived by all of the senses, the felt environment is a unique area of archaeological knowledge.
It is generally accepted that the emergence of industrial processes in the recent past has been accompanied by unprecedented sonic extremes. The work of environmental historians has provided ample evidence that the introduction of much of this unwanted sound, or "noise" was an area of contestation. More recent research in the history of sound has called for more nuanced distinctions than the noisy/quiet dichotomy. Acoustic archaeology tends to focus upon a reconstruction of sound producing instruments and spaces with a primary goal of ascertaining intentionality. Most archaeoacoustic research is focused on learning more about the sonic world of people within prehistoric timeframes while some research has been done on historic sites.
In this thesis, by way of a meditation on industrial sound and the physical remains of the Quincy Mining Company blacksmith shop (Hancock, MI) in particular, I argue for an acceptance and inclusion of sound as artifact in and of itself. I am introducing the concept of an individual sound-form, or sonifact, as a reproducible, repeatable, representable physical entity, created by tangible, perhaps even visible, host-artifacts. A sonifact is a sound that endures through time, with negligible variability.
Through the piecing together of historical and archaeological evidence, in this thesis I present a plausible sonifactual assemblage at the blacksmith shop in April 1916 as it may have been experienced by an individual traversing the vicinity on foot: an 'historic soundwalk.'
The sensory apprehension of abandoned industrial sites is multi-faceted. In this thesis I hope to make the case for an acceptance of sound as a primary heritage value when thinking about the industrial past, and also for an increased awareness and acceptance of sound and listening as a primary mode of perception.
Benjamin, Jeff, "Sound As Artifact", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2013.