Vacilar: The Entanglement of Self-expression and its Outside

Fontaine, Gregorio. 2019. Vacilar: The Entanglement of Self-expression and its Outside. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In current sound studies a fissure has grown regarding ontology. This fissure divides the field between sonic ontology on one side and auditory cultures (Kane, 2015) on the other. The sonic ontology side claims we would be capable of suspending cultural and subjective perspectives to access the sonic per se while, on the other hand, auditory cultures deny such access (Cox, 2018). For these auditory cultures, universal or natural notions are always mediated by cultural or subjective traits–therefore this research will identify them as para-ontological. The fissure is experienced across sound studies and touches, among others, artistic practices, philosophy, musicology and anthropology.

As its main contribution, this practice based research develops an arts practice that attempts to reconcile the ontological and the para-ontological as the entanglement between 'self-expression' (paraontological methods) and 'its outside' (ontological methods). The research develops works to attempt this entanglement as an experience of disorientation, ambiguity and reversibility between sonic agencies of self-expression and those of its outside.

The concept of vacilar is proposed by this research as the leading concept to understand the pursued experience of entanglement. In South America vacilar is a word with multiple meanings. Each of these meanings is used to identify different aspects of the practice. The meanings of vacilar are trap, doubt, dance, and vibration. This dissertation is organised in four chapters according to them.

In the first chapter the element of 'trap' encapsulates the strategies and mechanisms of disorientation and ambiguity–developed throughout the research mainly as Max/MSP patches–to entangle selfexpression and its outside. In chapter two 'doubt' is introduced as the property that opens up the possibility of sonic ontology as a listening that questions personal foundations. By situating the outside of self-expression, doubt absorbs ontological methods for the proposed art practice. In chapter three 'dance' conceptualises the reinforcement of the para-ontological from a non-essentialist stance– identified from my own cultural/subjective traits as the sonic Criollo. Dance therefore provides the frame from which to develop self-expression for the practice. Finally, in Chapter Four 'vibration' groups the other vacilar elements into one sonic experience. The conclusive works of this research propose the experience of vacilar as a vibration between dance and doubt that is triggered by sonic traps.

The vacilar vibration produces the experience of reconciliation between the ontological and the paraontological as the entanglement of self-expression and its outside. As is proposed in the works Romper el Silencio and the Morelia Songscaping Soundwalk, this reconciliation is not produced by the logical solution of the fissure but by the experience of sonic agencies as a vacilar of disorientation, ambiguity, and reversibility between self-expression and its outside.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Sonic ontology, Self expression, Sound studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


30 June 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Sep 2019 14:43

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 23:38


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