Imagining the Seamless Cyborg: Computer System Sounds as Embodying Technologies

Ploeger, Daniel (2019) Imagining the Seamless Cyborg: Computer System Sounds as Embodying Technologies. In: The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780190460242


This chapter investigates the designed sounds of operating systems (OSs), particularly those of Apple and Microsoft computers and devices, from a cultural critical perspective arguing that such sounds are cybernetic prostheses enhancing our capabilities. In a chapter that takes in conceptions of the cyborg (which are overshadowed by the cyborg’s roots in the military industrial complex) to the subversion and use of OS sounds for creative purposes, Ploeger discusses the use and subsequent development of such sounds—from early mainframe computers’ inherent noises to the designed sounds of today’s computing devices—and shows how they underpin the imagining of computers as extensions of the human body. Ultimately, the recent design of OS sounds serves to propagate pre-existing ideological concepts of the cyborg as evinced by our now technologically prosthetisized bodies.


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