[-empyre-] Saturday, 21st: The Disciplinarity of Sound Art
jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Sun Jun 22 08:30:13 EST 2014
For those of us who have lived through several iterations of a technology
'becoming' a field of creative/'artistic' inquiry, much of the discussion here
may be retroactively recognized in substituting "new media" or "network" or
"internet" or even, digging back a few decades, "photographic" for "sound" in
"sound art" -- all these materialist categories have once been 'outsiders' in
the dogmatic hierarchy of art institutions (including magazines, academies,
fairs, museums, critics, funding bodies, etc etc...). Now many of them have
their own journals, departments, museums, funding schemes, and so on. Who cares?
The socially-mandated relevance of a art form seems to be peripheral to the
intensity and verity of a creative praxis.
> With schools in Europe offering degrees in Sound Art I start to wonder how the
> Sound Art discipline is being formulated, formalized or institutionalized. My
> as much as it might be evolving out of currents and innovative new technology.
To me this temporal repetition points to a distinct poverty of thinking that
relies on tired materialist paradigms and an over-riding need for career-minded
folks to justify their existence and their product-oriented processes. IMHO this
way of thinking is a creative dead end -- to categoirze the world according to
material outcomes rather than to approach it from a more wholistic and
continuous pov. (For example, an energy-based one that Douglas has suggested.)
(and, at the same time recognizing that much of the language we use is so
replete with materialist baggage its scarcely possible to escape the gravity of
soul-killing Cartesian dominance -- we do not approach any 'thing' we are not
separate from the world except in our socially-primed and abstracted imaginings).
To take on an energy-based worldview is to be liberated from the underlying
paradigms of Newtonian physics whose limits in modeling reality cause those
following the dominant worldview to imagine themselves as the detached observers
of a segmented and categorically-defined world -- this to the detriment of the
whole global system ...
(Physicist David Bohm proposes a powerful alternative view in his book "The
Implicate Order" where he observes the effects of the Newtonian approach, for
example where "from early childhood we learn to accept the notion that the world
is constituted out of a tremendous number of different and separately existent
things. Among which is the self as a 'physical body,' sharply bounded by the
surface of the skin, and then as a 'mental entity' ... which is 'within' this
physical body and which is taken to be the very essence of the individual human
being. The notion of a separately existent 'self' thus follows as an aspect of
the generally accepted metaphysics, which implies that everything is of this
nature." It is this illusion of separation that has profound consequences in
life and it needs to be understood as a convenient form of "metaphysical art
that fits our general experience within certain limits, [but is] not an
expression of how thing really are": that is, fundamentally *not* separated ...)
so it goes.
I suggest that an energy-based definition of (any particular or in total)
technology is crucial for exploring the dynamics of the wider social system that
will provide any results addressing our current situation on the planet.
Technology may be seen, in this context, as an array of specific individually
adopted or discovered, collectively-refined and optimized pathways that govern
any and all of the flows of energy that cumulatively form a social system.
Technology is prima facie evidence of the actuality for human life to alter and
distort pre-existing flows as it endeavors to optimize its relationship with
those existing energy sources.
Getting stuck focusing a discourse *or* praxis on particular sets of
technological protocols without understanding what it means to 'use' a
technology ends up ultimately repeating the obvious and never understanding how
our 'system' is functioning. (Here, the concept of protocol defined as the
existence of refined, defined (learned or imposed) pathways for energy to follow
in the 'service' of the system that generated the protocol. A protocol does not
carry any energy itself although by definition energy is expended when a
protocol is applied.)
I understand that if some of you consider yourselves 'sound artists', or you've
been taught in a 'sound art' program or you've been hired on as the faculty
member in a new 'sound art' department that a pragmatic survivalist approach as
a participant in the dominant social system dictates that you have to carry
those distinctions around like the baggage of all the socially-mandated
behaviors, I understand this challenge very well, I have been called a sound
artist myself, among other perjoratives. My comments here come from being a firm
believer in the value of ignoring the labels, not relying much on prior
frameworks or pov's and finding more idiosyncratic expressions and approaches
arising from momentary impressions ...
So, just a few imaginary comments on the discussion so far...
Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
taking Manhattan as Berlin isn't possible right now
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