[-empyre-] Tuesday, 17th: Sound Art and Its Cultural Context

Jim Drobnick jim at displaycult.com
Wed Jun 18 02:40:34 EST 2014

Thanks for the great responses to yesterday's questions! Definitely much to muse over and consider as we participate in, curate, or just experience the next sound exhibition. 

Tuesday, 17th: Sound Art and Its Cultural Context 

For the rest of today, we will shift focus from curating to cultural context, which picks up on several comments about the questionable nature of sound's autonomy. Three issues raised by the core participants addressed the inevitability of sound being embedded in a cultural, socio-political or national context: 
1) Kevin deForest asks: Is it necessary for the cultural context in the production of audio art to be acknowledged as an aspect of the work? I am thinking about the cultural tourism involved in some hobbyist field recordings and the problematic of a cross-cultural capturing of sound.

2) Marc Couroux: Music’s amenability to cybernetics is underlined by information theory pioneer Claude Shannon, who defined a “singing condition” as the inability of an automata to recognize its loopy entrapment. Music’s particular affordances, vitalities, and teleological necessities could serve as a model to help ensure a preordained future through the transformation and regulation of extra-musical sound, channelling the impersonal, inhuman death drive (positive feedback) into homeostatic equilibrium (negative feedback). Noise, far from being a nuisance to such cybernetic systems, is in fact essential to periodically restart them.  How might an effectively transgressive practice operate given a resolutely alien, invasive neuro-military-entertainment avant-garde? What hyperstitional, paradromic methods might hijack and mutate uncommitted affective excess, escaping the reach of capitalist territorialization? How might the viral propensities of the earworm-servitor be leveraged in order to more effectively catalyze broader phonoegregoric operations?

3) John Oswald presented a cryptic koan: Canada hear? [Among the several puns offered by this succinct phrasing, I took it to imply a question about national identity in sound art. Given the technological basis underpinning much sound production, does it make sense to consider national histories or conventions in sound art, or is it by nature an internationalist movement and sensibility?]



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