Sonic Maps:

On the Acoustic (Trans)Formation of Urban Space in Straight Outta Compton (2015) and Grand Theft Auto (1997-2013)

Avant, Vol. XI, No. 3, doi: 10.26913/avant.2020.03.31
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Martin Butler
Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Received 18 November 2019; accepted 20 September 2020; published Online First 21 December 2020.

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Abstract: This contribution sets out to explore the sonic dimension of representing the city in the film Straight Outta Compton (2015) and the computer game series Grand Theft Auto (1997-2013). It analyzes the ways in which sounds and noises produced in and through these media contribute to constructing urban settings – not only in geographical terms, but also with regard to the various lines of (ethnical, racial, class or gender) demarcation that turn these settings into highly contested spaces characterized by power-laden processes and dynamics of social and cultural in- and exclusion. To do so, the article identifies the aesthetic means the film and the game series employ to render specific areas/sites of the city. At the same time, it explores the technological options of what is referred to as “sonic mapping” by also taking into consideration the forms and potential functions of 3D-sound in contemporary (home) cinema.

Keywords: soundtracks; sound technologies; sonic mapping; urban space; film; computer games


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“Avant” journal – the task financed under the contract 711/P-DUN/2019 from the funds of the Minister of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of science.
Czasopismo „Avant” – zadanie finansowane w ramach umowy 711/P-DUN/2019 ze środków Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego przeznaczonych na działalność upowszechniającą naukę.

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