Monthly Archives: February 2013

Chang.Rutherford_white album.2013

This is a pretty incredible idea. The sounds of The Beatles are objects broadcast by a press. Chang gathers them back in marked and changed by separate experiences they had. Like object reverb. Don’t miss listening to White Album – side 1 X 100.


“Sound, like fire, is simply an artifact of the transfer of one form of energy into another—expended in an instant and then gone.”—Ed Osborn

Osborn was born in Helsinki, Finland, him and his family smuggled art the of soviet union. They were put into witness protection by the FBI and relocated to Philadelphia where is he was submerge in the quaker religion. He studied at Wesleyan University, and continued to compose and preform all around the world. In the early 1990s he started experimenting in with organic tones and sound art. He working with sound installations and the “collective cultural memory” calling his installation mechano-acoustic sculpture.

One of his most attractive installation is flying machines which are balancing hanging speakers that have fans suspend below them, projecting the sounds made by the fans as they moved in the air. His aesthetic are visually pleasing and his creativity shines through by means of producing these sound wild sounds.

“In order to understand how sound functions as an artistic medium and as a valid contemporary voice, we must understand its aesthetic means, its socio-political ramifications and move beyond mere cataloguing.” -Matthew Mullane

I read an interesting essay called “The aesthetic ear: sound art, Jacques Rancière and the politics of listening” by Matthew Mullane. Unlike other essays on sound art, this one did not attempt to define the boundaries of the term, but instead acknowledged its futility. He says, “I am not concerned with ‘‘sound art’’ as an isolated methodological or art historical footnote; I am rather intrigued by sound as a vehicle for aesthetic experience.” In this essay he uses Jaques Ranciere’s theory of “critical art” to interpret and demonstrate the validity of sound as a medium through which to “raise consciousness of the mechanisms of domination in order to turn the spectator into a conscious agent in the transformation of the world.” Basically Ranciere argues that art should be political and Mullane thinks that sound as a medium is a great way to create political art.

I was drawn to this article because it provides a framework for making ‘critical art’, which is something that excites me. I often feel conflicted because my art and my politics are not linked in the way I would like them to be.

A word that kept coming up was ‘heterogeneity,’ defined as: “composed of unrelated or differing parts or elements.” This is an important term in Ranciere’s theory and is interesting to me because  it speaks to art’s ability to encourage people link disparate ideas in productive ways.

Mullane analyzes 4 different pieces of art that use sound in a ‘critical’ way. One I particularly liked is a piece by Toshiya Tsunoda, in which he took a field recording inside of a manhole. I didn’t quite get how this piece was ‘critical,’ but I’ll probably reread the essay later.

My major complaint about this article is that it is incredibly verbose and theoretically dense (I had to look up a lot of words) and really just applies one (though arguably influential) art philosophical viewpoint to the world of sound art. However, it is nice to be getting away from essays that simply attempt to define “sound art” as opposed to understanding the capacities of sound.


also: ARTNET’s Ranciere for Dummies article

Luigi Russolo wrote “We find far more enjoyment in the combination of the noises of trams, backfiring motors, carriages and bawling crowds than in rehearsing, for example, the Eroica or the Pastoral” (from The Art of Noises 1913). In Steven Poole’s Gaurdian article, Prick Up your Ears. Poole explicates the quote as Russolo’s excitement for a side of the industrial age that we don’t normally consider. In history classes we often discuss the technological and cultural impacts of the many marvels of the industrial age. As millions of people around the world we’re exposed to the incredible power of the assembly line, the diesel engine, etc, it was not just the new triumph of efficiency that held people captive it was the sounds that came with them.
This struck me as i was reminded of what Mark said in our first meeting about historians returning to explore the audio landscapes of history. I enjoyed our discussions last night about overstimulation and taking for granted our auditory experiences. Having spent the majority of our lives focused on tactile and visual information I feel at a loss as to how to approach questions like: How are we listening? How are we making noise? How can we utilize sound to articulate our relationships to the world and to ourselves, to emotions and sensations? Now that I’ve written all this it seems a little redundant to our discussions and lacking in nuance. After our discussions last night though and reading some more articles this week I just wanted to write out some of my thoughts. The rest of the Gaurdian article is kind of an interesting commentary on how to make sense of sound art. Here’s the article:

– Daniel