Eagle Calling into Microphone

Mixed Media: The Interplay of Sound and Text

September 20, 2018 - March 8, 2019
Hirshland Exhibition Gallery
Level 2B, Carl A. Kroch Library

How do you write a sound? How do you hear a text? “Mixed Media” examines how representations of text and sound have shaped our perceptions of the material world, tracing the technologies used to replicate and transmit them.

The exhibition features rare artifacts that illuminate 500 years of inventions that record and distribute information—from movable cast metal type to Edison’s model wax cylinder-playing gramophone.

Over the centuries, each generation of technological advances offered rapidly increasing rates of production and access to text and sound. From the 1400s onward, printed books evolved from large, stationary volumes to ever more transportable and cheaply produced pocket-sized companions. In our own era, the transistor radio, Walkman, and iPod increased access and portability for listeners and readers alike. “Mixed Media” maps these developments, along with points of convergence once sound became as easily reproducible as text.

Artifacts demonstrating these transformations will be on view, along with items that explore the interactions of sound and print, such as early modern illustrations of acoustics, work by Cornell faculty who collected early field recordings of bird song, and examples of printed text rendered into audio format.

“Mixed Media” will be on view in the Hirshland Exhibition Gallery from September 20, 2018 - March 8, 2019.

View the online exhibition