Pooja Rangan

11:00AM Pooja Rangan, The New School

“Sonic Relations: Deligny and the Autistic Object of Sound”

My presentation examines the work of the French educator, filmmaker, and writer Fernand Deligny, who is known for his experiments in non-hierarchical co-habitation with severely autistic children in the 1960s and 1970s. Deligny’s unusual cartographic practice, which consisted of tracing the meanderings or “wander-lines” of autistics, is thought to have influenced Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel de Certeau. Paying close attention to the auditory resonances of Deligny’s accounts of autistic perception and communication, I propose that his mapping exercises engage and respond to an autistic mode of relationality that is organized less by specular than sonic ways of relating to the world. Deligny’s practice both enacts and raises questions about what Jean Luc Nancy calls “resonant” subjectivity, as well as the ethical ramifications of the difficulty of fixing sound.

This presentation consists of relatively new research, and will form part of a chapter in a new book project that evolves what I’m calling a “defense of voicelessness” by engaging with various counter-theories of the voice across experimental documentary and critical theories of sound. This new research has evolved from and builds on a book chapter on autism, voicing, and humanitarian intervention from my forthcoming book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP, anticipated 2017). Auditors are requested to peruse a condensed talk version of this book chapter, titled “Toward an Autistic Counter-Theory of the Documentary Voice.” The paper will be mailed to those who RSVP for the event. I would be happy to share the full book chapter to anyone who is interested.