On April 2, we gathered for our fourth session which was organized by Cody Black and Cade Bourne. Both Cody and Cade shared their writings along the lines of gigging economy, affective labor, and aural relationality. Cody, who has done his fieldwork with artist-laborers in K-Pop industry in South Korea, discussed in his writing how one media start-up works with the interviewees to catch a human emotion that often moves people to tears and to transform it into a communicable affect on social media platforms like YouTube. Cade, whose research looks at precarious labor of DJs in Japan, examined the potential and limits of the concept immaterial labor in exploring DJing and its product: vibes. We all read both of their works, and posed questions, comments, readings, in terms of how these projects may go forward.
Jieun: I was struck by how much the two projects shared in terms of the tension between process and product, albeit in different contexts of attention or affective economies. And not coincidentally, I kept thinking back to significance of platform along the lines of Tamara Kneese’s work on platform temporality. For Cade, I think vibe is more than “immaterial labor”; vibe seems to me the product-in-process or process-as-product in itself. In this context, labor cannot be solely produced by the laborer’s body— the producers must depend on digitized platforms to be able to produce something at all even before the transactions happen as a point of actualizing value in forms of currency. Their labor itself is digitized. For Cody, how platform conditions what needs to be captured to move the audience to tears within the constraints of production timeline? I feel like both projects have great potential beyond ethnomusicology.
Emily: I found it interesting how complementary the two writings were. The reading was an intriguing experience for me because both of you move in and out sound as something indexical and sound as something affective (more like vibrational energy). Both of you constantly shift between ethnographic details and broadstroke theorization. What if one can think of sound not as a noun but as a verb, in terms of pacing your own attention to the issue at hand? What moves one’s own attention to, for example, vibes and how does one know how to go about giving that vibes presence in writing? I really enjoyed reading both of your works.
Ralph: Given that both of you are interested in materiality and immateriality of certain forms of labor, I was thinking about equipments that are actually necessary for the people you work with in the first place as a material basis. There are many forms of immaterial labor, and for example, coders are equipped differently from DJs. How would this factor in your projects with possible implications for what immaterial labor can be or do?
Sophia: Nowadays, almost all the artists broadcast on many different platforms. What makes DJs or media start-ups distinctive in this historical moment? For Cade, I wonder if there is something in the DJing that makes DJs distinctive as broadcasting artist. For Cody, I wanted to hear more about empathy given other discussions about the role of social media platforms in diminishing empathy. Many works depict the affects of platform economy and its impact on human relationality in utopian or dystopian terms. I wondered if you had thoughts about this.
Shreya: While reading your works, I thought about writing—how does one communicate something like an affect or production, transformation, and music through writing? What are the ways people artistically engage such sensations for giving the reader a space to feel the moment as part of reading experience?
Yanping: I wonder how mental health and changing psychological needs in the pandemic context might be relevant to Cade’s research. I have been following and using “study with me” videos on Youtube. A lot of comments there imply sociality and relationality. So I am thinking about audience as interlocutors in Cade’s fieldwork. Also, do some groups of old audience move to the digital platform, or are there new audience driven by the pandemic stress?