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Digicult Interviews: Joe Banks: Rorschach Audio. EVP, Psychoacoustics and Auditory Illusions

Joe Banks: Rorschach Audio. EVP, Psychoacoustics and Auditory Illusions
by Elena Biserna

The so-called Rorschach ink-blot test is a psychodiagnostic method for the analysis of personality named after its inventor: Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922). During the test, the patient is asked to interpret a series of ten cards with symmetrical colored blots. According to advocates of this diagnostic method, different subjective responses to these ambiguous images – if appropriately registered and analyzed – would reveal the personality profile of the examined subject, as well as any psychiatric diseases or though disorder.

It’s from this complex and debated methodology that the title Rorschach Audio. Art & Illusion for Sound takes its cue. Rorschach Audio is the latest book by Joe Banks, perhaps better known for his artistic projects, signed, since 1995, with the name Disinformation. The result of more than a decade of research, the book starts from a trenchant critique of artistic uses and scientific claims of EVP – Electronic Voice Phenomena, but expands its scope to address the wider issues of auditory illusions, psychoacoustic ambiguities, and misperceptions of sound stimuli. The central thesis of the book is that it is the mind to project illusory, familiar, and subjective meanings into ambiguous, undefined and unknown sounds, similarly to what happens in the visual field with the Rorschach ink-blots.