Unreal Nature

January 27, 2019

The Sounds of Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… Can you imagine placing an LP on the turntable that contains the sound of your first words, your grandfather’s diary or the sounds of the social function that you attended last weekend?

This is from Sound by Artists by Dan Lander (1990):

… it is difficult to identify an art of sound precisely because of its historical attachment to music. Although music is sound, the tendency has been to designate the entire range of sonic phenomena to the realm of music. With the introduction of noise — the sounds of life — into a compositional framework tending towards the ephemeral and avoiding the referential, artists and composers have created works based on the assumption that all sounds uttered are music.

… The imposition of a ‘musical template’ onto the sounds that otherwise, in a day-to-day context, have meanings other than musical ones, leads us to a dead-end conclusion: all sound is music.

… The stripping away of meaning from the noise of our world constitutes a refusal — fetishizing the ear, while ignoring the brain — to engage ourselves in dialogue with the multiplicity of meanings conveyed by the sounds we produce, reproduce and hear. If a critical theory of sound (noise) is to develop, the urge to ‘elevate all sound to the state of music’ will have to be suppressed. Noise your lover’s voice, a factory floor, the television news — is ripe with meaning and content distinguishable from the meaning and content of musical expression. It is this content that constitutes any possibility for an art of sound.

… Although photography, for which theories of representation are well established, preceded that of sound recording, a theory of phonography (recorded sound) has yet to emerge. … [P]honography, as a form of cultural and social representation, exists in a vacuum, devoid of any substantial critical discourse.

… The potential of the microphone/tape recorder is boundless — compact, battery operated, inexpensive and readily available — as an instrument for artistic and social expression. Any social or private activity that emits sound can be recorded. Can you imagine placing an LP on the turntable that contains the sound of your first words, your grandfather’s diary or the sounds of the social function that you attended last weekend?

-Julie

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