Law Text Culture


This paper makes use of Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961) as an analogy and a structural device to put forward an understanding of law as a sonic artefact. Similar to this sculpture, or sound of sculpture for that matter, it proposes that law, a statue-like formation, is constituted by its own ever-lasting sounding that continuously shapes the spatial and temporal field in which it reverberates and encloses subjects and objects. By resisting law’s tendency to instrumentalise and objectify sound, the paper argues that such sonic quality cannot be reduced to law’s own pronouncements and vocalisations only. Instead, it traces the sonic beyond that which is audible to law or what an ear can hear. By drawing on the work of the French philosopher Michel Serres it demonstrates the relational qualities of sound, noise, and hearing as intrinsic qualities to the body and functioning of law. Approaching sound and its relation to law in this way not only brings forward questions about the ontological bearings of law, but it also allows to sound out novel epistemological passages for hearing, understanding, and thinking about law.