Ekaterina Odé, PhD


Towards a category of the acousmatic distance/écart in the controversies of Media Anthropology


The acousmatic theory (Pierre Schaeffer and Michel Chion) proposed a philosophical approach to the media founded on the comprehension of sound and visual recording as a process of "re-creation" of the objects by the means of suspension of their "causes" (like the veil of Pythagoras): the recording hides us the sources of physical objects that are situated in front microphone or camera. Instead of copying the objects of the world, the recording creates from them an "other thing", understood as a medium. According to these authors, the physical distance between media and physical objects reveals a discontinuous relationship of the human being to the world, which also passes by language.

This theory initiated the interdisciplinary anthropological debate with Lévi-Strauss, but also Edgar Morin, Roland Barthes, Jean Rouch, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Roman Jacobson, and other intellectuals, around the recording (in 1960) and, later, on the digital forms of instantaneous communication (with Lévi-Strauss, 1970-1980s). Today, digitization and recording constitute one of the forms of communication of the human being with the external world - related to objects and their forms - but together they also form our essential "Umwelt".

On the crossroad of aesthetics, media anthropology, and language philosophy, this project aims to bring up to date the issues of Schaeffer’s media theory and the controversies revealed through the discussions with several biologists, linguists, and philosophers. Thus, starting from the questions about Schaeffer’s idea of the "non-human language of things" ("le langage des choses”) engaged by media, telecommunications, and computers (rhetoric of images, of sounds, editing), one discussion around cybernetics starts between Claude Lévi-Strauss and Pierre Schaeffer (1952). This cybernetic is defined as a "philosophical reflection about humans from the machines that we create". Do cybernetics and recoding machines (film, microphone) use the human modus of processing ("language of reason")? - asks Levi-Strauss. Edgar Morin, in his turn, participates in the debate with Schaeffer until the 1980s and also defends the idea of the functional reciprocity between the human and the medium. However, Lévi-Strauss seems to change his mind later.

To the extent that the concept of the acousmatic describes the medium itself as a certain dis-continuity, this notion of the acousmatic "écart" would allow approaching the phenomenon of the mediality as an anthropological question through this recording debate. Would this gap/écart be a natural human phenomenon (of our perception and our language), as Lévi-Strauss argues while talking about the "machine language"? Following this gap historically, biologically, and linguistically, this research is also an inquiry into the ultracontemporary debate and controversies in the interdisciplinary field of media anthropology, with its issues about AI and especially the affective dimension of today's "digital instantaneous communication" (including Film) with our new "digital bodies".


Ekaterina Odé holds a Ph.D. from the École normale supérieure de Paris (which she defended in December 2020) in the interdisciplinary field of philosophy, film theory, and research-creation (SACRe, ENS). Her interdisciplinary thesis entitled "La voix sans phénomène. La théorie acousmatique à l'épreuve du cinéma" was devoted to the French media theory movement (acousmatic theory: Pierre Schaeffer, Michel Chion) and, in particular, to the phenomenon of the acousmatic voice in cinema and in the philosophy of recording.

In 2018, she was the recipient of the Edgar Morin Fellowship (IMEC/credit cooperatif) with her research on the anthropology of cinema and benefited from a 6-month residency at the IMEC archives. She has been teaching film philosophy and film studies at the University of Paris-3 Sorbonne Nouvelle and at PSL University. She previously studied contemporary philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and wrote her master's thesis (Philmaster, 2014) on issues of language and rhetoric in the New French Phenomenology. Currently, she remains a member of the SACRe laboratory (ENS, Paris) and collaborates with the Digital Humanism departement (Collège des Bernardins) . Since 2022, she is also a research associate at the new Permanent History Laboratory of the George Pompidou Center.


2023, "Les cavernes acousmatiques. L’écart et l’immersivité dans la perspective d’anthropologie des médias" in Azimuth. Philosophical Coordinates in Modern and Contemporary Age, Bodini, J. and De Cesaris, A., Issue 2, "Immersivity. Philosophical Perspectives on Technologically Mediated Experiences", p.143-158, 2023.

2022, "La phénoménologie du langage poétique et cinématographique chez Marc Richir et Roman Jakobson" in J.-C. Monod et N. Zambon (dir.), Langages de la phénoménologie, Paris, Hermann, p.121-146.

2022, "Le cinéma" in J.-C. Monod (dir.), Dictionnaire Lévi-Strauss, Robert Laffont, coll. "Bouquins", 238-242, 2022.

2022, "Pierre Schaeffer" in J.-C. Monod (dir.), Dictionnaire Lévi-Strauss, Robert Laffont, coll. "Bouquins", p.933-935.

2021, "De la photogénie a la phonogénie et retour. Les aventures de la réalité face à l’œil cinématographique avec E. Morin" in Valérie Vignaux (dir.), Edgar Morin et le cinéma, Presse Universitaire de Caen, pp. 111-124.

2021, Recension critique du livre: Sztulman P; Zabunyan D (dir.) Politiques de la distraction. Dijon, Les Presses du reel. La Grande Collection ArTeC, in The Garage Journal: N 4, p. 178–185, DOI: 10.35074/GJ.2021.99.65.014 https:/doi.org/10.35074/GJ.2021.99.65.014

2021, "De la photogénie à la phonogénie et retour. Les aventures de la réalité face à l'oeil cinématographique avec E. Morin" in Valérie Vignaux (dir.): Edgar Morin et le cinema, Presse Universitaire de Caen, p.111-124

2021, "Les voix acousmatiques dans les films de Marguerite Duras", in Claudia Deblanches, Sylvie Bauer et Claude Jamain (dir.): Voix acousmates en littérature, Presse universitaire de Rennes, sous la direction de p.187-204

2021 (2018) " 'Tu parles donc je suis': anthropologie et théorie des média chez Edgar Morin et Pierre Schaeffer" // publication sur le site des Archives IMEC, bourse de l'IMEC—crédit coopératif, sur le site de l'IMEC ; comité : conseil scientifique des archives de l'IMEC : www.imec-archives.com/archives/carnets-de-recherche/l-anthropologie-des-medias-chez-edgar-morin-et-pierre-schaeffer

2019, Critical review for: Clémot, Hugo, Cinéthique, Paris, Vrin, 2018, pour le site "actu-philosophia" : www.actu-philosophia.com/hugo-clemot-cinethique-913/

2018, "Anthropologie de la voix acousmatique", in Carnets de l'Imec N 10 (été 2018), p.30-31

2016, "L'Acousmêtre au cinéma. Un personnage non identifiable" in Demain des l'aube, P. Danesh (dir), n.1, Paris, 2016, p. 20-24