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.
Authors | Victoria Simon
Articles on Amodern by Victoria Simon
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.