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

Paul Dolden pauldolden at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 19 00:43:38 EST 2014

First,I like to thank Jim for inviting me, and have greatly enjoyed the discussion so far. 

Well I will start today, since I have not participated yet.( I am responsible for question #2, about opera using recorded signals.N.B. "my question" was more a joke i sent out to alot of friends with some 
sarcastic comment about concert hall practice and its contemporary 

If you look at the many comments for the New York Times article, people are scandalized that an opera company would think of using samples to replace the orchestra to keep costs down. One thinks immediately of Foucault's discussion of authenticity in the arts. But I do not want to go in that direction please. As much as I would like to discuss that the depth of Wagners' timbres are not possible with the Vienna Symphonic library in which all instruments were recorded with the same small diaphragm microphones, which creates bad phasing when huge densities of instruments are used. I will repress the gear geek in me and proceed.

The story, of the opera,  came out while reading last week's highly theoretical discussions, which were amazing, but left me still thinking that we as cultural workers have created almost no shift in how people think about the art of sound reproduction and music consumption. 

For your average person recordings are their experience of music. They consume recordings in their car, home and office. If they are walking down the street and are not wearing ear buds, they are confronted with street musicians, most of whom are jamming to a pre-recorded tape!

By contrast when we try to interest the public in just listening whether in the art gallery or concert hall with nothing to see, people think they are being "ripped off." And yet our use of technology is far more interesting and subtle than the new Celion Dion album. (n.b. and please: "nothing to see"-I am thinking of more than  electroacoutic music and its diffusion ideas!-even though i live in Quebec!)

Where do we go from here, in making the audio format, (which may or may not involve some type of live performance) to be more understood and appreciated for your average person?

Or to put the question in even simpler terms,and make it personal....(indulge me for a moment, the people who know me at this forum know my dry wit):
Why can i always interest and amaze your average person with my guitar wanking, than the extreme detailed work i have to do to mix and project 400 tracks of sound?


For bio, music excerpts, recordings,reviews etc go to:


To see a video of a chamber orchestra work go to:




On Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:29:12 AM, Jim Drobnick <jim at displaycult.com> wrote:

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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