[-empyre-] Thursday, 19th: Sound Art, Technology and Innovation

Semitransgenic acousmatique at gmail.com
Thu Jun 19 20:36:29 EST 2014

On the point of grants and innovation for innovation’s sake, take an
academic department that is trying to create time and space for creative
practitioners doing their thing at doctorate and post-doctorate level, it
needs to somehow legitimise its activities in a context that can be
understood by people in suits who control cash-flow. For instance, if you
are at a Russell group university, and there is unending rhetoric about
striving for “excellence,” it’s simply very difficult to justify spending
money on “research” (much of which is essentially people noodling with
art/music & technology) if it doesn't appear to be “innovative.” It’s a
game, a veneer, and it doesn't just apply to academia, prospective funding
bodies of one kind or another can more easily be convinced of a project's
merits if the proposal is spun as “new and innovate” but it is unfortunate
that too much money seems to go to work that is often little more than
yawn-worthy (novelty does not guarantee quality).  I’m not sure how this
will change because the technocratic imperative (and the influence of
trends within the “creative industries”) that forms part of the
rationalisation process of determining where the money goes, means that
certain hoops will have to be jumped through, hence the need to big-up the
“innovation” component.

I also see a couple of commentators here stating that they switch off when
discussion turns to technology (the “how” instead of the “why”). This is
short-sighted really, it’s not an either or situation, it’s possible to
maintain a healthy balance. One can be engaged in technologically mediated
creative practice and still enjoy the "how” while not letting this aspect
of things dictate the value of a work.  Having said that, I find all this
pseudo-philosophical "international art-speak" waffle tiring; so many
emperors, so many new clothes, seriously, enough already. I’m not adverse
to conceptual art but we have reached overkill with this stuff, and I’m
loath to see sound/sonic/audio arts adopting this jargon in an effort to
validate itself.

There are so many artists out there now working with sound, it seems like
everyone is a “sound artist” these days, it kind of reminds of the
explosion in DJ culture that we saw back in the mid-90s (overnight everyone
was a DJ, all they needed was a set of CDJs and an auto-sync button, now
it’s a Zoom H4 and some artspeak).
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