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Compact Disc (Object Lessons)


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 The Little Disc 2 The Faithful Disc 3 The Wounded Disc 4 The Undead Disc Postscript Acknowledgements Select Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

The compact disc promised to be the perfect medium for recorded sound, but it presaged the end of physical media for good. Its history shows that the materiality of media can never simply be wished away.

About the Author

Robert Barry is Visual Arts Editor at The Quietus and a Faculty Member at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, UK. He is the author of The Music of the Future (2017) and co-editor, with Houman Barekat and David Winters, of The Digital Critic: Literary Culture Online (2017).


This thoughtful, elegantly written little book pays homage to that least loved of music formats, the compact disc. Filled with engaging anecdotes and philosophical observations, the book offers a concise cultural history of audio recording, describing the vicissitudes of the music industry and the dissolution of sonic objects into codes and clouds. * Christoph Cox, Professor of Philosophy, Hampshire College, USA, and author of Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Metaphysics (2018) *
Robert Barry rekindles our wonder for the technology that 'put a laser in your living room.' Futuristic and confounding, the CD converted light into sound, philosophers into audio critics, and audio critics into philosophers. But this book is more than the story of a format whose perfection laid the groundwork for its own demise--it's also an intercultural history of light, the quest for technological perfection, and the art of critiquing that quest through glitches, skips, and stutters. * Mack Hagood, Robert H. and Nancy J. Blayney Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies, Miami University of Ohio, USA, and author of Hush: Media and Sonic Self-Control (2019) *

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