Authors | Victoria Simon

Victoria Simon is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern California in the Annenberg School of Communication Studies and received a Ph.D. from McGill University in 2019. Her research on the social dynamics of human-computer interaction has appeared in the journals Television & New Media, Communication, Culture & Critique, and in the anthology Appified: Culture in the Age of Apps (University of Michigan Press). Her book project is on the history and politics of touchscreens for sound production.

Articles on Amodern by Victoria Simon

DEMOCRATIZING TOUCH

Xenakis’s UPIC, Disability, and Avant-gardism

In 1977, the composer Iannis Xenakis developed a music composition interface he claimed would democratize music production – making it "simple" and "intuitive" to all. To demonstrate the system's inclusivity, Xenakis held workshops with blind people – also testing their presumed gift to produce avant-garde music. Drawing on archival evidence and interviews, I argue that the rhetoric surrounding his interface naturalized the universal human capacity for musicality – problematically making it appear that all people can, and should, be able to compose. Furthermore, the system's design assumed able-bodiedness and placed vision as the primary sense required for composition. Nevertheless, his declarations helped contest the exclusive technocratic culture of music production in France at the time.