Nicholas Knouf is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. He is a media scholar and artist researching noise, interferences, boundaries, and limits in media technologies and communication.
His recent book, How Noise Matters to Finance (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), traced how the concept of “noise” in the sonic and informatic domains of finance mutated throughout the late 20th century into the 21st. His current research project, tentatively entitled At the Limits of Understanding, listens to how we have tried to communicate with both ghosts and aliens.
His current artistic research explores the re-presentation of signals from the cosmos. Projects in this vein include they transmitted continuously / but our times rarely aligned / and their signals dissipated in the æther (2018-present), a 20 channel sound art installation with speakers made from handmade abaca paper and piezo electric elements, with sounds collected from satellite transmissions; PIECES FOR PERFORMER AND EXTRATERRESTRIAL ENTITIES (2017-present), event scores laser etched into handmade translucent abaca paper; and, On your wrist is the universe (2017-present), generative poetry about satellites and the cosmos for your smartwatch. Past artistic work includes sylloge of codes, a self-contained wireless network that explores communication codes in the wake of Snowden; Art for Spooks (with Claudia Pederson), an augmented reality book that takes a poetic approach to electronic surveillance; the Journal of Journal Performance Studies, a series of three interrelated works on academic publishing; MAICgregator, a Firefox extension that aggregates information about the military-academic-industrial complex (MAIC); Fluid Nexus, a mobile phone messaging application designed for activists and relief workers that operates independent of a centralized network; robotic puppetry projects that engage with psycho-socio-political imaginaries; and sound works that encourage the expression of the unspeakable.
His research has been funded by fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Past work has been recognized by a number awards, including an Honorary Mention by Prix Ars Electronica in [the next idea] category (2005), the Leonardo Abstracts Service (LABS) for his dissertation (2013) and master’s thesis (2008), a memefest Award of Distinction (2008), and a special transmediale “Online Highlight” (2009). He has presented his research and projects at national and international conferences and festivals such as transmediale (DE); Piksel (NO); ISEA (SG, CA); DIY Citizenship (CA); TEI (JP); CHI; CAA; the Society for Literature, Science and Art (SLSA); and the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S). Additionally, his work has been discussed in print and online media, including Motherboard, The Creator’s Project, ID Magazine, the Boston Globe, CNN, Slashdot, and Afterimage.