[-empyre-] Wednesday, 18th: Sound Art, Technology and Innovation

Jim Drobnick jim at displaycult.com
Wed Jun 18 23:23:03 EST 2014

Hi Folks, 

Yesterday's questions about sound in its cultural context didn't seem to gain much traction with the group -- or were there comments that didn't get through? If the former was the case, then we'll move on to the next topic, which is Sound Art, Technology and Innovation. Ryan Diduck, Paul Dolden, Anna Friz and Lewis Kaye have offered questions that address the influence of technology on sound art production, along with the pressures of artists themselves to develop new technologies. 

1) Ryan Diduck: What is the relationship between users and innovations? This is an important question to consider for music making, as well as its reproduction. How are sound or music technologies -- such as formats like LPs and MP3s, or instruments like pianos and electronic synthesizers -- and their users mutually produced? To what extent do users stimulate technological innovations, or vice versa, in the sonic realm?

2) Paul Dolden: Why do cultural workers have so little impact on introducing the use of technology into the field of art music? Such as the incident of opera musicians being replaced by a digital orchestra recently reported in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/12/arts/music/a-digital-orchestra-for-opera-purists-take-and-play-offense.html?emc=eta1

3) Anna Friz: Artists working with sound are judged by many of the same criteria as media artists when it comes to applying to various funding bodies, festivals, prizes and awards, and so on. Of these, to my mind the most contentious condition is that the work must be innovative. What counts as innovation for sound and audio art? Too often 'innovation' is still framed in terms of technical development and mastery, where techné is understood operationally rather than relationally and aesthetically. This can be the case whether the sound works in question use extensive multi-channel systems, self-made software, or DIY instruments. I am interested to problematize this focus on innovation, both in terms of working with sound technologies and in terms of how it effects the sound art scene, the kind of work that is programmed or supported and where. 

4) Lewis Kaye: What is the status of an audio artwork when the actual sonic aesthetics of the piece are contingent on the technical system used to reproduce it? Is the technical system thus an integral element in the audio art work? 

If Ryan, Paul, Anna or Lewis would like to further elaborate, please do!


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