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sonic identity

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The shift from clothing to fashion transfers us from the functionality to meaning-making—dress becomes a signifier. Everyday sounds of dress become a collective practice of sounding. Sounds are part of personal and individual as well as social and collective activity. As Jean-Luc Nancy calls it: ‘being singular plural’, being-with-one-another (Nancy, 2000). ‘Sonic commons’ (Auinger and Odland, 2009; Schulze, 2018; Voegelin, 2010) is seen as the field for sonic identities and fashion. In this way, sonic expressing could be seen as a cultural practice that relates to individual or group identity—subcultures.


The character of a ’sonic persona’ (Schulze, 2018) is mainly dependent on its particular cultural and historical significance, which is sonically embodied in one’s auditory appearance: in one’s sonic acts, sonic performances, sonic roles or masks. ”This audible embodiment stores the emanations radiating from one’s highly idiosyncratic, one’s individual, biographical, and instantaneous sensory constitution” (Schulze, 2018, p. 123). Different identities bring different behaviors, for example: ‘sonic dominance’ when one is very loud, ’sonic resistance’ while reflecting/blocking sounds back, ’sonic camouflaging’ as being ’muted’/silent, and etc. 


The sonic expressions differ from visual ones, for example, underwear (the loudly squeaking plastic details of bra) becomes in this case a dominant sound of the overall sonic silhouette. The fur is considered outstanding or expressive in visual language, but when it comes to sonic identity it is the one that is silent/muted. What is an auditory extravaganza, a ’sonic fur’? 


Wearing a cow-bell or cat-bell on a human body questions the identity. These sounds signify other bodies that are embodied in the sound of a bell and the identities are merging into one ’sonic marker’. The mix of various identical sonic markers makes an interesting new sonic assemblage. What sonic identities could be there? Auditory extravaganza, avant-garde tribal cat, modest asymmetry, jazzy sport, disco swimmer, and etc.

The research on sonic identity is revising fashion by considering fashion items from a different, sonic, perspective. Where sound is considered not as a negative aspect but a potential source for new theory and methods to evolve. Where sound is presented not as a secondary quality of the designed object but the main idea generator. While investigating the sonic expressions towards acoustically oriented design methods, research builds up the foundations for non-visual aesthetics and opens up a new thinking space for designing with the sound matter. This dissertation contributes to the discussion around ‘designerly ways of knowing’ (Cross, 2001) by suggesting how a dressed body could be seen as a sonic expression, therefore, generates multiple perspectives on complex design space.


Sonic Fashion Library (SFL) is a part of the research practice. SFL consists of 400 sound records of various fashion items: fabrics, materials, clothing, accessory, footwear, and ensembles. You are invited to explore the fashion from a sonic perspective. Aural experience and sound thinking, in contrast to visual experience and image thinking, change the fundamental manifestation and perception of a dressed body: from looking and being seen to listening and being heard. Looking at and listening to a body that is wearing high heels are fundamentally different experiences. Thus, the dressed body from an auditory perspective is understood as a dynamic, temporal form, rather than static as usually, it is in visual representation.

For the Sonic Fashion Library, please visit  

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