In Carsten Seiffarth’s 2009 essay for the Goethe Institute, Sound Art was called a “New Art Form.” As in – it is an established artform but it only plays a fringe role on the outskirts of the art world, as visitors to galleries will testify.

One of the reasons this may be happening is that the very oeuvre of Sound Art is inextricably linked to the location it is presented at. For example, take a look/listen to the World Expo in Brussels, 1958, at which Varese debuted Poèm électronique.

The same goes for Plaqué by Peter Schubert & Andrea Usenbenz. These works are tied up with spatial as well as historic roots. There is the element of the snapshot of a time when you listen back to the recording of an installation – summoning the genii locus of a place time & modus operandi long since vanished.

Plus, if you couple the fact that there are few art galleries equipped to deal solely with sound art … well, that is in part the ceremony of the modern day vinyl revival. People go to a gallery to look at an image. They could look at the same image on their computer screen. However, by catching the bus into town and visiting a gallery, they are creating a ceremony around it.

The same with vinyl. There is very little to distinguish between a well-pressed compact disc and a shop bought vinyl – in fact, you can fit more of an audio bandwidth on a CD. But, there is a ceremony to listening to vinyl: you are probably listening to it on your good system, you are probably sat in a comfortable chair and you are, in general, in more of a receptive mood.

The same should be said of all music – especially a sound art recording. Music and sound art is not something to have on in the background as you are frying some sausages for your tea. The active art of listening is a diminishing practice – ask yourself, when was the last time you sat down and gave a recording your undivided attention? Try it.

 

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