About me

The author imaged by Google Street View twice, about 8 years apart.

Short biography

Eamonn Bell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, at Durham University. Formerly a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Music, Trinity College Dublin, his current research examines how the once-ubiquitous Compact Disc (CD) audio format was designed, subverted, reproduced and domesticated for musical ends. This project was supported by the Irish Research Council under the Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship programme for the period 2019–2021. His research interests include the history of technology as it relates to musical production and consumption in the twentieth century, with a focus on the uses of digital computers in the period between about 1955 and 1970, the application of mathematical and contemporary computational techniques to solve problems in musicology and music theory, and the visualization of musical data.

Before returning to Ireland, he completed a PhD in Music Theory from Columbia University (2019), where he wrote a dissertation on the early use of digital computers in the analysis of musical scores under the supervision of Joseph Dubiel. At Columbia, he designed and taught a course on the critique of “digital music” (2018), and instructed the undergraduate sections in history of Western music for non-musicians (2018) and the fundamentals of music theory (2017). Shortly before he began graduate studies in music at Columbia, he graduated from TCD with a B.A. (Mod.) in Music and Mathematics (2013). For arcane reasons relating to how staff are involved in the governance of universities in the UK and Ireland, this degree is styled M.A. (Dubl.) as of 2020.

Many years ago I came across this quote and it still more or less sums up why I’m interested in what I’m interested in, though since then I have read a lot more in media and communication studies as well as in the history of computing that complicates the story told here:

For many, the computer is an appliance sitting on desks. But computers actually have much wider reach, and researchers are feverishly working to extend their application into every corner of life. Invisible computers lurk everywhere—in the toaster, the toy, the automobile, the television, the stove. Computers underlie many systems that people rely on—telephones, manufacturing, transportation, health care, finance, and government. Even more profoundly, digital information systems have changed cultural patterns, for example, in the ways people are abstracted and represented, the ways social decisions are made, the ways we attribute value to information, and the ways that images are used to shape meaning.

(Stephen Wilson, Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. Leonardo. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2002, p. 605.)