In “Radio Physiognomics” Theodor W. Adorno outlines the social features of music's radio broadcast, a still relatively new technology for music transmission and listening in the 1930s. The present article deploys Adorno's “physiognomic” analytics to diagnose the kinds of perceptual technics at work in the data-encoding methods associated with digital technologies today, from compression and decompression schemes for file formats to software for instrument and style simulation and algorithms for identifying signature grooves and metric beats in music. In the shift from autonomous listening (always already institutionalized in terms of habitus) to automatic listening (absolutizing habitus through executable algorithms), the article detects a link to technological misrecognition, whereby the sensuous/immediate and humanizing must—as a condition of its possibility—also foreclose what goes as human affect.
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Martin Scherzinger; Software Physiognomics: Adorno's Radio Analytics Today. New German Critique 1 November 2016; 43 (3 (129)): 53–72. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-3625361
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