Frances Dyson is a writer, media artist and associate professor in Techno-Cultural Studies at the University of California at Davis. She is the author of The Tone of Our Times: Sound, Sense, Economy and Ecology (MIT Press, 2014). In this wide-ranging book, Dyson examines here the role of sound in the development of economic and ecological systems that are today in crisis. Connecting early theories of harmony, cosmology, and theological doctrine to contemporary media and governance, Dyson uses sound, tone, music, voice, and noise as forms of sonority through which the crises of “eco” can be read. The sonic environment, Dyson argues, is fundamental to both sense and sensibility, and its delimitation has contributed to the “senselessness” of a world now caught between spiraling debt and environmental degradation. Dyson draws on scenes, historical moments, artworks, and artistic and theoretical practice to situate the reverberative atmosphere that surrounds and sustains us. From Pythagoras's hammer and the transmutation of music into mathematics, to John Cage's famous experience in the anechoic chamber, to the relocation of the stock market from the street to the computer screen, to Occupy Wall Street's “people's microphone”: Dyson finds policies and practices of exclusion. The sound of Pythagoras's forge and the rabble of the market have been muted, rearticulated, and transformed, Dyson argues, through the monotones of media, the racket of financialization, and the gibberish of political speech. She published as well Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture (University of California Press, 2009), and the web based media project And then it was Now on E.A.T., 9 Evenings and Pavilion (Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, Montreal 2007.
Her writing has been published nationally and internationally, with book chapters in Catherine Richards - Excitable Tissues (Ottawa Art Gallery); Uncertain Ground, (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales) 2000, The Virtual Dimension: Architecture, Representation, and Crash Culture (New York: Princeton Architectural Press)1998, and Immersed in Technology (Massachusetts: MIT Press) 1996; and articles in journals such as Les Cahiers de L’Herne, (forthcoming) Circa, Leonardo Music Journal, Artbyte and World Art. She was awarded a Researcher in Residence from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology for 2004-5. Dyson has exhibited installation/performance works in the US, Canada, Japan and Australia and for over a decade has been a regular contributor to Australia’s premier audio arts program, The Listening Room (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), where she recently completed Fur and Sheen – an experimental fictional series based in the near future, comprising “Static”, “Drift” and “Sheen”. She currently serves on the board of Davis Community Television and is active in community media projects. Dyson has exhibited installation/performance works in the US, Canada, Japan and Australia, and has been a regular contributor to Australia’s premier audio arts program The Listening Room Australian Broadcasting Corporation.