Fidelity: Graduate Workshop

21 April 2008, 13:30 - 17:00


Jonathan Sterne and James Lastra 


What is the relationship between a recorded sound and a visual image that purports to depict it? The purpose of this workshop on “Fidelity” is to question some of the interpretative attitudes with which we approach and represent the mechanical recording of sound and visual image, raising issues of referentiality and the index. How does playback reference the sound recorded? Is there an ontological difference between analogue and digital recording techniques? The workshop will foreground the mediated nature of listening and spectatorship, and will stimulate a discussion of the implications of social ways of listening and viewing. This is an excellent opportunity for Cambridge graduates to engage with two leading visiting scholars on a subject that is crucial to current theories of media and mediation.  


This event has been organized by the Intermedia Research Group and Screen Media and Cultures. 


Please contact Ben Etherington or J. M. Gomez-Connor for further information. 

Fidelity Programme

Location : CRASSH  Date : 21 April 2008

21 April





Jonathan Sterne (Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University)

In Defense of the Sampling Theorem

Sterne will discuss humanists' gross misunderstandings of the sampling theorem.  He will focus on notions of continuity and discontinuity that are at the root of many recent critiques (ontological and in some cases metaphysical) of digital audio, which, it is claimed, has less fidelity to an original than its analogue counterpart.


Graduate respondent (James Riley, English) and general discussion


Coffee/tea break


James Lastra (English and Committee on Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)

Lastra wil survey the historical/cultural emergence of the indexical mode of interpreting mechanically produced images and sounds.  His paper is concerned with how referentiality emerges as a mode of engagement with these artifacts, and concentrates on Charles Peirce's interest in "habit". 


Graduate respondent (tba) and general discussion