Rorschach Audio











Engaging… packed with interest” – The Times Literary Supplement

“The cultural scope of the book is dizzying” – The Quietus

“Amiable… thoughtful… very intriguing” – Art Monthly

“Fascinating work” – Steven Pinker


What are the connections between Leonardo da Vinci and Dick Whittington, between the BBC Monitoring Service and punk band The Clash, between wartime military intelligence work, visual arts theory, battle management systems, Spiritualism, radio and recording technology and criminal witness testimony? What role do JG Ballard, Osama bin Laden, William Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Richard Dawkins, Jean Genet, William Hogarth, Pope Pius XII, Primo Levi, proto-Surrealist writer Raymond Roussel, teenage criminal Derek Bentley, Sigmund Freud and crystallographer Louis Albert Necker play in the disentangling of mysteries of human perception?


Taking a major cue from art historian EH Gombrich’s seminal text “Art & Illusion”, “Rorschach Audio” is a work of contemporary cultural scholarship and an exploration of the art and science of psychoacoustic ambiguities. Part detective story, part artistic and cultural critique, “Rorschach Audio” lifts the lid on an array of fascinating and under-examined perceptual and political phenomena.


“Rorschach Audio” is essential reading for everyone interested in air-traffic control, anechoic chambers, artificial oxygen carriers, audio art, bell-ringing, cocktail parties, cognitive science, communications interference, compost, the death penalty, Electronic Voice Phenomena, evangelism, evolutionary biology, experimental music, ghosts, the historiography of art, illusions of sound and illusions of language, lip-reading jokes, nuclear blast craters, predictive texting, singing hair, sonic archives, sound design, steam trains, tinnitus, the Turing Test, Victorian blood painting, visual depth and space perception, ultrasonic visual music, ventriloquism, voices and warehouse robberies and fires.


“The earliest form of sound recording technology was not a machine but was written language…” (Rorschach Audio, page 96)


Trade distribution by Turnaround

ISBN 978-1-907222-20-7

Hardback, 191 pages

Art Theory, Cultural Studies

UK £10 Non-Fiction


An early MIT Press version of “Rorschach Audio” (published 2001) can be downloaded here –


Rorschach Audio lecture-demonstrations have been presented at The British Library, The Science Museum Dana Centre, The Royal College of Art, The ICA and City University (London), Liverpool Biennale, The University of Edinburgh, Argos (Brussels) and Arteleku (San Sebastian). “Rorschach Audio” sound artworks have been commissioned by MUU Helsinki and Palais de Tokyo. Project supported by The Arts & Humanities Research Council, Goldsmiths College (University of London) and The Institute for Modern & Contemporary Culture at The University of Westminster.


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