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zhao
28-08-2007, 08:27 PM
a friend made the observation that the term "communication design" means visual design, while human communication itself arguably has more to do with audio. also in the education of children, looking is focused on as a means for knowledge to enter the brain, while hearing is often ignored or simply taken for granted.

other sound-artists I've talked to have sometimes complained that sound and music are not something the public and the (art) establishment take nearly as seriously as visual art. music is entertainment for the most part, while "art" is deemed a more profound, significant, and indeed almost religious, experience.

and it's true, only in recent years have sound been *kind of* taken seriously, with the popularity of artists like Christian Marclay. while famous observations such as "sculture is more suited for the medium of sound, because you can perceive 3 dimensions simultaneously; and with an object you have to walk around it" (who said that again?) have been uttered many years ago. so in this light perhaps the concerns of something like cubism can be addressed much easier with sound rather than collage or sculpture.

would you agree that in general our societies and cultures seem to (unjustly, arbitrarily) privilege the eyes over the ears? and if you do, where do you think this prejudice comes from?

my knowledge of western philosophy is limited, but i vaguely think this has something to do with the enlightenment and the materialism which followed -- sight would seem to be a more concrete measurement of the physical universe - after all seeing is believing, and sound is just so abstract, intangible, and ephemeral.

any of you smarties out there care to elaborate?

gek-opel
28-08-2007, 09:33 PM
a friend made the observation that the term "communication design" means visual design, while human communication itself arguably has more to do audio. also in the education of children, looking is focused on as a means for knowledge to enter the brain, while hearing is often ignored.

other sound-artists I've talked to have sometimes complained that sound and music are not something the public and the (art) establishment, take nearly as seriously as visual art. music is entertainment for the most part, while "art" is deemed a more profound, significant, and indeed almost religious, experience.

and it's true, only in recent years have sound been *kind of* taken seriously, with the popularity of artists like Christian Marclay. while famous observations such as "sculture is more suited for the medium of sound, because you can perceive 3 dimensions simultaneously; and with an object you have to walk around it" (who said that again?) have been uttered many years ago. so in this light perhaps the concerns of something like cubism can be easier realized with sound rather than collage or sculpture.

would you agree that in general our societies and cultures seem to (unjustly, arbituarily) privilege the eyes over the ears? and if you do, where do you think this prejudice comes from?

my knowledge of western philosophy is limited, but i vaguely think this has something to do with the enlightenment and the materialism which followed -- sight would seem to be a more concrete measurement of the physical universe - after all seeing is believing, and sound is just so abstract, intangible, and ephemeral.

any of you smarties out there care to elaborate?

Doesn't the problem with sound art from a populism point of view also come in that unlike an avant-garde work of visual art you can't just look at it and go "oh yeh" - tick the box and move on... that it occupies space in time and that only through time can its true form be perceived. As such its "difficulty" is more oppressive, its abstraction more domineering. This is why highly abstract or conceptual visual art is still relatively popular I think: its easy to take in (although only on an extremely superficial level perhaps).

I'd be interested in more explanation as to the 3D in sound aspect... presumably this isn't just referring to the illusion of space created in stereo or multi-speaker works- presumably you mean conceptually something like audio-cubism would be more effective than constraining such an abstract idea to a limited 2D canvas--- but then again some of the best art comes from the imposition of strict limitations, and it could therefore be argued that it is in straining at the limitations of the two dimensional canvas that cubism gains much of its power and ingenuity- and that the limitless potential of sound mere vibrations in the air is too free. An interesting point is also to compare the idea of representationalism in visual art to music-- there is surely no sure analogue- even the most basic folk or pop song doesn't actually represent anything, or if it does it is attempting to convey something which is already as abstracted as an emotion...

UFO over easy
28-08-2007, 10:52 PM
and it's true, only in recent years have sound been *kind of* taken seriously

I don't agree at all. What about classical music?

if you don't think it's generally regarded as an artform I don't know what is - how else do you explain all the arts funding that gets chucked at it?

like gek, I think you can draw a comparison between the difference between the general publics relationship with 'difficult' modern art and say, a wonderful landscape, with the difference between peoples ideas of audio art and more easily appreciated classical music

gek-opel
28-08-2007, 10:58 PM
I think sound art is a totally different beast: its sculpture in sound rather than art-music (ie: the classical tradition, although it kind of has a lot of similarities with 20thC avant classical stuff of course).

gek-opel
28-08-2007, 11:07 PM
like gek, I think you can draw a comparison between the difference between the general publics relationship with 'difficult' modern art and say, a wonderful landscape, with the difference between peoples ideas of audio art and more easily appreciated classical music

Ah but I was looking just at the cutting edge end:the interesting bit is why the most abstract of visual art is much more acceptable and popular than the most abstract stuff in sound.

turtles
29-08-2007, 12:54 AM
would you agree that in general our societies and cultures seem to (unjustly, arbituarily) privilege the eyes over the ears? and if you do, where do you think this prejudice comes from?
Well my two-minute search for a decent reference failed, but if we're talking just generally about sight versus hearing, it's well known that humans rely far more on vision for information about the world than sound. Certainly the size of the visual cortex is waaaay bigger in comparison to the regions of the brain that deal with any other sense. But this is really because most of our brain is just involved in the extremely complex task of making us move about through the world, recognizing and identifying objects, finding food to eat, avoiding steep cliffs and the like. Humans are vision-dependent animals, so you can't really claim that, in general, societies "unjustly" privilege the eyes over the ears, because it's biologically built in to us at a very basic level.

That said, it does become quite a different story when we start talking about art, or communication between people, or communicating abstract information. But still, one of the arguments I have heard for "communication design" (I think this is related to what's called "Information Visualization" in CS), is that the human visual system is already pretty much the most complex and impressive piece of hardware in the human brain and we would be foolish not to try and leverage it's considerable processing power to try and communicate/visualize abstract information. So one answer for you, zhao, is is simply a matter of bandwidth: you can process far more information far quicker with vision than with any other sense.

Now when it comes to what type of information individual senses are best suited for processing, perhaps there you can make some more interesting claims. I think your right, zhao, to say that human language is more naturally associated with audition, but at the same time they are clearly not one and the same, and I don't think any clear description of how language is processed in the brain has been put forward yet anyway.

But I guess my main point is I really don't think there is a prejudice towards vision, since there's actually a bunch of really good reasons to focus on it as opposed to other modalities. I mean, why do you people keep going on about sound art, while completely neglecting the touch- or smell-based art scenes!! ;)

dHarry
29-08-2007, 11:31 AM
smell-based art scenes!! ;)
:)

I'd broadly concur with Turtles; it's pretty obvious that sight can process multiple things very quickly and (almost) simultaneously - e.g. think of driving, where your eyes-brain can calculate oncoming car speeds, watch the speedometer, check the sky for weather, enjoy the landscape, look at the radio display, look for cigarettes on the dash, and all the while scanning the road, signs and rear-view mirrors for crucial life-or-death data for the feet and hands to drive the car by... The ears-brain get much more easily confused with multiple inputs (just try to listen to two people speaking at once).

But music as art has always been hugely important to our admittedly ocular-centric biology and societies, if not quite at the level of abstraction that Zhao mentions. It's arguable that classical concert music and national anthems have been crucial up until recent times to the concepts of society and nationality - right up to its use in (- Nazi Germany alert, and only 5 posts in! -) the Nuremberg rallies etc. in fomenting nationalistic fervour.

Maybe music-making goes back further than cave painting? Surely it was more natural and/or easy to sing and bang sticks off rocks than develop a visual artistic sensibility (even basic 3D effects like foreshortening, vanishing points etc on a 2D plane weren't discovered until a few hundred years ago, though maybe these would be roughly analogous to sophisticated harmony etc in music...).

I would guess that any sense of human community is scarcely imaginable without a musical component as a social bonding function, whether Italian opera, traditional/folk music, western Classical music, Christian hymns, Victorian sentimental ballads, dubstep(!) etc - all of these have indeed functioned as "profound, significant, and indeed almost religious, experience" as Zhao describes visual art contra audio art.

Admittedly what you're talking about Zhao - abstract sound art as audio sculpture - hasn't really ever captured a general public imagination or interest since the gradual wane of composed music over the past 100 years. But then, neither has art film (I'm thinking of Snow, Brakhage etc rather than more regular art-house movies, which are really often not fundamentally dissimilar to mainstream cinema, just slightly more pretentious/decadent/non-linear/etc). And arguably as Gek points out the main reason abstract visual art has to some extent is because it's easy to just look at once in a gallery, and isn't time-dependent like music or film.

There's also the "ignorant" position that Zhao started another thread about - "that's just noise", which might be justified in many instances - just because some student with a laptop can make some glitchy noise doesn't make her/him an artist!!

UFO over easy
29-08-2007, 01:09 PM
I think sound art is a totally different beast: its sculpture in sound rather than art-music (ie: the classical tradition, although it kind of has a lot of similarities with 20thC avant classical stuff of course).

well, exactly - avant garde classical composers have been talking about 'sculpting' sound for decades. I think there's a very direct link between the two forms.

zhao
29-08-2007, 02:46 PM
Doesn't the problem with sound art from a populism point of view also come in that unlike an avant-garde work of visual art you can't just look at it and go "oh yeh" - tick the box and move on... that it occupies space in time and that only through time can its true form be perceived. As such its "difficulty" is more oppressive, its abstraction more domineering. This is why highly abstract or conceptual visual art is still relatively popular I think: its easy to take in (although only on an extremely superficial level perhaps).

certainly this can be construed as a reason, but if sound takes more time to take in, at the same time it can also be much more immediate/direct, physical, and visceral, than visual art. sound can grab you instantly, and not let go. it is less ignorable than some impenetrable object sitting in the gallery - people at art openings spend most of their time chattering, and the nature of visual art allows them to do that -- not the case with sound. so maybe it is less functional in a social sense.


I'd be interested in more explanation as to the 3D in sound aspect... presumably this isn't just referring to the illusion of space created in stereo or multi-speaker works- presumably you mean conceptually something like audio-cubism would be more effective than constraining such an abstract idea to a limited 2D canvas--- but then again some of the best art comes from the imposition of strict limitations, and it could therefore be argued that it is in straining at the limitations of the two dimensional canvas that cubism gains much of its power and ingenuity- and that the limitless potential of sound mere vibrations in the air is too free. .

yes i mean sound is naturally perceived in 3D space - it is all around you, so that things like distance, background/foreground, are all inherently a part of the experience, without having to resort to the "illusionsim" of say, painting. good points on the tug and pull of concept and formal restrictions.


An interesting point is also to compare the idea of representationalism in visual art to music-- there is surely no sure analogue- even the most basic folk or pop song doesn't actually represent anything, or if it does it is attempting to convey something which is already as abstracted as an emotion...

as for representation, certainly music can be that. tribal drum beats arguably represent a number of things from the hunt to the sexual act. ancient music everywhere can be said to represent a sense of loss and longing. and certainly if there are lyrics involved, i.e. a narrative, music becomes a direct "representation" of life experiences. and certainly things like field recording surely are representational...

so while these are all good points, I'm not sure they completely explain the privileging of visual over aural.

Mr. Tea
29-08-2007, 03:03 PM
Ah but I was looking just at the cutting edge end:the interesting bit is why the most abstract of visual art is much more acceptable and popular than the most abstract stuff in sound.

Is this really true, though? Plenty of people* are prefectly happy listening to compleley abstract dance music ('abstract' in the sense of not involving vocals, anything remotely recognisable as an 'instrument' and, quite often, little to nothing that could be called a melody) but take one look at most kinds of conceptual art and think "what a load of old bollocks".

*including, much of the time, me

zhao
29-08-2007, 03:07 PM
I don't agree at all. What about classical music?

if you don't think it's generally regarded as an artform I don't know what is - how else do you explain all the arts funding that gets chucked at it?

like gek, I think you can draw a comparison between the difference between the general publics relationship with 'difficult' modern art and say, a wonderful landscape, with the difference between peoples ideas of audio art and more easily appreciated classical music

classical music used to be pop music in the western world, composers were pop stars; and it wasn't until roughly 100 years ago that it was overtaken by jazz and blues as the dominant popular form (of "entertainment").

avant garde classical music and all kinds of "experimental music" certainly is taken seriously today, but by a very, very small group of people (esoteric, I believe Sickboy called my taste for improvised music), compared to art.

from where I'm standing if you don't think visual art is regarded as more important, a higher sphere of experience, a more significant part of culture, compared to sound and music in our societies you are in denial.

if it is, why are there no big glossy magazines which cost 12 USD sitting on the shelves of any news-stand all over the world called "Sound Forum", "Sound in America", "New Sound Examiner", etc., etc.? sure there are loads of music magazines, but it is considered entertainment, and not to be confused with that serious pursuit called Art.

what is a better sign of prestige, sophistication, and worldly wisdom, worthy of everyone you know talking about, a David Hockney hanging on your wall, or the latest Gerard Grisey CD?

in fact, you don't even know who Gerard Grisey is do you? while David Hockney is a house hold name. (Grisey is one of the most important composers of the last 20 years, yet about 5% of his work is commercially available outside of his home country)

when you meet friends on saturday evening, is it at the premiere of an avant garde symphony or at an art opening?

as far as fundting is concerned, I'm certain that fundting for Art dwarfs funding for music programs. would be interesting to see some figures though. also keep in mind that Art is BIG business, an industry and economy all in its own - hence the phrase "art world". when was the last time you overheard a conversation at a cocktail party about the "sound world"? (pop music industry not appicable here - that is more on the same level of movies)

i can go on and on but you catch my drift.

zhao
29-08-2007, 03:15 PM
Is this really true, though? Plenty of people* are prefectly happy listening to compleley abstract dance music ('abstract' in the sense of not involving vocals, anything remotely recognisable as an 'instrument' and, quite often, little to nothing that could be called a melody) but take one look at most kinds of conceptual art and think "what a load of old bollocks".

no T. dance music, however minimal or devoid of melody, is not really comparable to conceptual art. it is a popular form with more in common with a visual practice like design - it is functional and everywhere.

what is comparable to conceptual art is conceptual music, which is to say, "art music" or "sound art". and conceptual visual work is no doubt much more accepted, widely distributed, and recognized than its equivalent in sound.

Mr. Tea
29-08-2007, 03:24 PM
no T. .

Well that told me! :)

OK, I take your point that conceptual art isn't really equivalent to dance music, but (much) dance music is nonetheless more conceptual than, say, rock or instrumental pop* music. And I'd say more people will hear, say, one of Aphex Twin's more 'challenging' tracks and say "This is good music" than would look at a Rothko or a Klein and say "This is good art".

Well, maybe. That's my hunch, anyway.



*played on instruments, not lacking in vocals

zhao
29-08-2007, 03:35 PM
but (much) dance music is nonetheless more conceptual than, say, rock or instrumental pop* music.

that's like saying a Karim Rashid chair is more conceptual than a vintage victorian chair... which may or may not be true.

zhao
29-08-2007, 05:46 PM
the size of the visual cortex is waaaay bigger in comparison to the regions of the brain that deal with any other sense. ... So one answer for you, zhao, is is simply a matter of bandwidth: you can process far more information far quicker with vision.... ... I really don't think there is a prejudice towards vision, since there's actually a bunch of really good reasons to focus on it as opposed to other modalities.

good points turtles, from biological perspective. but culturally, the matter may become more complex. for since the greek times (I'm probably embarrassing myself with my historical inaccuracies) it has been posited over and over that music is the ultimate creative expression, the ultimate "art". and i tend to agree -- it can be more intellectually challenging in terms of formal construction, making use of mathematical systems and structures, than visual art, and also much more immediate, immediately emotional, visceral, physical, etc. it embodies 4 dimensions instead of 2 or 3...

gek-opel
29-08-2007, 07:31 PM
Is this really true, though? Plenty of people* are prefectly happy listening to compleley abstract dance music ('abstract' in the sense of not involving vocals, anything remotely recognisable as an 'instrument' and, quite often, little to nothing that could be called a melody) but take one look at most kinds of conceptual art and think "what a load of old bollocks".

*including, much of the time, me

Sound Art or associated genres like lower case improv and avant classical are totally different to dance music tho! Even abstract-ish dance music has a functionalism. Aphex Twin is melodic as fuck for the most part, as sugary sweet as a ring tone...

There is a certain amount of boredom involved in listening to this kind of music, as well as some moments of staggering beauty. But the boredom is almost a positive quality in a world full of entertainment- almost part of the point. I understand tho that selling people on oppressive boring art is quite hard.

borderpolice
29-08-2007, 10:00 PM
(Grisey is one of the most important composers of the last 20 years

In what sense is Grisey important?

UFO over easy
29-08-2007, 10:14 PM
classical music used to be pop music in the western world, composers were pop stars

what utter nonsense. do some reading boss. besides which, if being 'popular' is any sort of indicator of lack of artistic worth, then why do you even care that -


visual art is regarded as more important, a higher sphere of experience, a more significant part of culture, compared to sound and music

and bemoan the fact that


there no big glossy magazines which cost 12 USD sitting on the shelves of any news-stand all over the world called "Sound Forum", "Sound in America", "New Sound Examiner", etc., etc.?



what is a better sign of prestige, sophistication, and worldly wisdom, worthy of everyone you know talking about, a David Hockney hanging on your wall, or the latest Gerard Grisey CD?

who gives a shit? honestly? fuck prestige, and fuck the endless, pointless, shallow pursuit of sophistication.


when you meet friends on saturday evening, is it at the premiere of an avant garde symphony or at an art opening?

what difference does it make? levels of popularity do not impact the definition of art. anthony gormley's Blind Light was massively popular recently - it's art. I'm sure you could list hundreds of unknown sound artists I've never heard of, because you're obviously so sophisticated - I'm sure that's all art too. And what? If Gerard Grisey hit the top of the charts tomorrow with his latest CD, it would still be art. Why does any of this matter? It's simply not relevant.

This post is actually a perfect example of one of my pet hates - people who use terms like "important," and "sophisticated," with reference to art as if their own conception of those terms is universally recognised.

zhao
29-08-2007, 10:53 PM
In what sense is Grisey important?

all of this is arguable of course. but a very good argument can be made that the likes of Grisey, including Murail, Dumitrescu, and others in the Spectral school, are the most important contemporary composers from 1970 onward. they carry on what the likes of Ligeti, Stockhousen, Xenakis, and Scelsi started early/mid last century. their orchestral and electro-acoustic work, and those in the "post spectral" (whatever that means) school, for me and many others, is the most exciting thing happening, and the most innovative, challenging, and rewarding development in recent decades.

it is difficult not to fall back to a modernist model of progress and innovation when it comes to this; and i do think it applies in this case: if western culture is preoccupied with the new, then here it is, a composition method having to do with analysis of the physical properties of sound waves, producing nothing less than mind blowing and endlessly enjoyable results.

and the bulk of their recordings are not commercially available in the United States. no one gives a shit. (least of all our buddy UFO here)

zhao
29-08-2007, 11:26 PM
what utter nonsense. do some reading boss.

no it is not nonsense. many composers WERE pop stars. they filled concert halls, was the talk of the town, seen at the most glamorous parties - if the tabloids existed then some of them would be on the cover.

could only find this blurb just now:


Musicians who could dazzle and amaze their audiences by their virtuosity became the first musical superstars. The two most famous nineteenth-century examples were the violinist Nicoḷ Paganini (1782–1840) and the pianist Franz Liszt (1811–1886). Both dazzled audiences throughout Europe with their performances, elevating the status of the musician from servant to demi-god. Their fame grew throughout Europe and their likenesses would be recorded in a variety of visual arts.

main point being that classical music served a different function back then - it was entertainment, it was exciting, and the stuff of gossip. the opera Carmen by Bizet was considered lewd and shocking at the time, caused riots; maybe the equivalent of a borderline X-rated movie shown in mainstream theaters now.

my point is that the function of art forms change over time. another example: jazz was DANCE MUSIC back in the beginning of 20th. and people Raved 'Till Dawn to Duke Ellington.


if being 'popular' is any sort of indicator of lack of artistic worth,

who the fuck said that???!!! "utter nonsense" is very much applicable here.



who gives a shit? honestly? fuck prestige, and fuck the endless, pointless, shallow pursuit of sophistication.

This post is actually a perfect example of one of my pet hates - people who use terms like "important," and "sophisticated," with reference to art as if their own conception of those terms is universally recognised.

i think you are misunderstanding my posts. (which incidentally are stirring up all sorts of indignant feelings toward elitism, etc.)

my question is why is visual art elevated to such pedestals of importance, and regarded as signs of prestige and sophistication in our culture, and not nearly as much, music.

to which all you can say is "who gives a shit" ? why are you posting in this thread if you don't "give a shit"?

I'm not the enemy who is assuming the position of arbiter of taste or quality. I am merely making observations and asking questions about why things are the way they are.

zhao
29-08-2007, 11:58 PM
I apologize for sounding like a snob when i said "you don't even know who Grisey is do you" --- was not what i intended and came out wrong --- it was merely to demonstrate that such a great and important artist is virtually unknown to 99.999 per cent of the population.

UFO over easy
30-08-2007, 12:07 AM
yeah sorry I over-reacted big time.. bad day innit.

I think I just react badly to talk of importance and intellect when it comes to stuff like this.

I stand by what I said about the irrelevance of popularity to the value of art, and the stuff about classical composers being rock stars... I do think the popularity issue is relevant though, because if it weren't this wouldn't be an issue at all right? you wouldn't be interested in the issue if you didn't think sound art generally gets a raw deal presumably :)

about the composers thing btw, if anything, those few (and they really were a few) that you reference were more like honorary members of the aristocracy than rock stars weren't they... what you say about its function back then is also a simplification - it was enjoyed by almost all echelons of society on different levels, and consequently fulfilled lots of different functions at once :) sames true of music today.

zhao
30-08-2007, 12:38 AM
i always think your handle would be cool if it was UFOver easy :)

Eric
30-08-2007, 05:16 AM
isn't the difference just that artworks are investments---can be resold (given the right circumstances)---for a profit, but recordings aren't/can't?

from this perspective something like artforum is just a different version of forbes---seems something right about this.

tate
30-08-2007, 07:15 AM
I guess I don't understand the premise of this thread at all. If you are asking why 'sound art' isn't treated in the same way as the visual arts, the obvious answer is that 'sound art' is a very recent phenomenon, with a few strands streaming out from Russolo et alii but the vast majority of it being an outgrowth of installation art, which is an extraordinarily recent development when measured against the historical timelines of the arts ... there are bazillions of glossy magazines devoted to music and sound, however -- from popular to DJ tech to world to classical to folk to rock guitar to music tech to software to home stereo to high fidelity to noise to punk to contemporary classical etc etc, magazines devoted to sound are everywhere -- but just as there's no "Installation Forum" or "Installation News" or "Installation in America" of course there's not (yet) any glossy "Sound Art Forum" magazine ... and I think that that is just fine. Why on earth would anyone expect this recent (and contested) category of 'sound art' to receive the same coverage or attention anyway as, say, sculpture, which has been an established medium in e.g. europe for 2500 years, at the very least? ... as Ben rightly points out, there is a tradition of art music known as 'classical'/concert hall/'art music'/whatever, which accommodated just as much experimentation as the other arts ... I mean, come on, Cage, Tudor, etc down into today's contemporary classical and electroacoustic musics, there's no shortage of very high profile/visible/well-covered experimentation in classical/concert hall music ... not to mention, 'sound art' barely makes any sense anyway without the institutional/museum/space of presentation/installation impulse tacked on to it ... (Varese's Poeme Electronique was constructed for, and "installed" within, a physical building designed by none other than Xenakis, but we don't call Varese's piece 'sound art', the way that people do today for installation pieces. Why is that? Perhaps because of the institutional/museum/market role in the art world?)

This is all just to say that the attempt to read some sort of cultural lesson or historico-philosophical conclusion about 'sight vs. hearing' on the basis alone of an asymmetric relation between visual art and 'sound art' seems to me to be a very, very sloppy and ill-informed way of proceeding ... and anyway, the question of western thought's privileging of vision over sound, body, and other modes has been addressed by the philosophical tradition since Merleau-Ponty and many others writing in response to Husserlian and Heideggerian versions of phenomenology ... so i would look there ... essay collections in philosophy with titles like the hegemony of vision were all the rage some 10-15 years back, you'd be able to find lots of further ideas/support/new avenues for pursuing your question in them, just my two cents' ...

borderpolice
30-08-2007, 01:36 PM
all of this is arguable of course. but a very good argument can be made that the likes of Grisey, including Murail, Dumitrescu, and others in the Spectral school, are the most important contemporary composers from 1970 onward. they carry on what the likes of Ligeti, Stockhousen, Xenakis, and Scelsi started early/mid last century. their orchestral and electro-acoustic work, and those in the "post spectral" (whatever that means) school, for me and many others,

By "many others", you mean the 15 oddballs who listen to this stuff, like you, me, and a few hapless composition students? ;)


is the most exciting thing happening, and the most innovative, challenging, and rewarding development in recent decades.

Hmmm, i can't really see the excitement. But then I find the whole Ligeti, Stockhousen, Xenakis tradition of classical modernism a bit of a dead end, trapped in the harmony-centred mode of composition that is characteristic of european classical music.


if western culture is preoccupied with the new, then here it is, a composition method having to do with analysis of the physical properties of sound waves, producing nothing less than mind blowing and endlessly enjoyable results.

I'm afraid I can't agree with you here. The sound experiments coming from this school are vastly less interesting and innovative than what pop-music (in a wide sense) has been doing with sound in the last 3 decades since synthesizers have become mainstream instruments.

Mr. Tea
30-08-2007, 02:05 PM
Aphex Twin is melodic as fuck for the most part, as sugary sweet as a ring tone...


Maybe Aphex was a bad choice - yes, he has done lots of melodic or fairly straightforward dance and ambient stuff. But he's also done music that's the kind of amelodic, glitchy, splattery sound-collage that makes a lot of people say "How is this even music?" in the same way Hirst's shark makes people say "How is that art?".

zhao
30-08-2007, 04:18 PM
By "many others", you mean the 15 oddballs who listen to this stuff, like you, me, and a few hapless composition students? ;)

my point exactly.


Hmmm, i can't really see the excitement. But then I find the whole Ligeti, Stockhousen, Xenakis tradition of classical modernism a bit of a dead end, trapped in the harmony-centred mode of composition that is characteristic of european classical music.

not from where i'm standing. spectral music is very exciting. and all ligeti et al. did was open doors for things to move forward. "harmony centred"??? have you heard any Xenakis lately??? without him Richard James would still be picking his nose in a sandbox somewhere playing with toy tanks.


The sound experiments coming from this school are vastly less interesting and innovative than what pop-music (in a wide sense) has been doing with sound in the last 3 decades since synthesizers have become mainstream instruments.

i guess you are entitled to your opinion. how ever missguided. listen to Dumitrescu's Medium III and tell me ANY glitch-hop break-core dubstep ambient-industrial post-dance electronica uses sound in a more interesting and FUCKING MINDBLOWING way...

zhao
30-08-2007, 04:33 PM
listen to Dumitrescu's Medium III and tell me ANY glitch-hop break-core dubstep ambient-industrial post-dance electronica uses sound in a more interesting and FUCKING MINDBLOWING way...

just realized that theys no way for y'all to listen to it because i dont think it's available.

http://www.geocities.jp/paganrail/exmusic/photo1-2/dumitrescu1.jpg


"Iancu Dumitrescu's music is spectral, is electroacoustic, but above all is a coherent totality grounded in a different conception. Of all living composers, Dumitrescu is the one who has most exploded sound. Dumitrescu's work is a negation, from the depths, of everything in contemporary music symptomatic of distraction, of banalization, and of a radical loss of purpose. His music is not a new convolution in the knot of modern music, but an unravelling of the curse."

(intro to the Interview done by Tim Hodgkinson: http://www.furious.com/perfect/iancu.html)

for fans of Pan Sonic, Sunn O))), and anyone interested in SOUND... Autechre ain't got SHIT on this dude. turn up your home stereo. and i suggest sitting down before hitting play...

Iancu Dumitrescu: Edition Modern 1001 (Medium III and other pieces)

http://rapidshare.com/files/2994342/ID_M3_1.zip
http://rapidshare.com/files/2994043/ID_M3_2.zip

borderpolice
30-08-2007, 04:57 PM
not from where i'm standing. spectral music is very exciting. and all ligeti et al. did was open doors for things to move forward. "harmony centred"??? have you heard any Xenakis lately??? without him Richard James would still be picking his nose in a sandbox somewhere playing with toy tanks.

I don't think that tradition has had a big influence. The emancipation of noise in pop music probably has more to do with the easy availability of electric guitars and distortion units than anything else. And even where there is an influence, that influence dates back several decades now. I refuse to see this as contemporary.


i guess you are entitled to your opinion. how ever missguided. listen to Dumitrescu's Medium III and tell me ANY glitch-hop break-core dubstep ambient-industrial post-dance electronica uses sound in a more interesting and FUCKING MINDBLOWING way...

I do like the dronatity of it very much. But so what? That's just taste. Let's talk about more objective categories: Soundwise nothing much is happening, due to the fairly static nature of the instruments used. Rhythmically and melodically nothing's going on either. This is true for most music in this vein. Of course they don't try to be interesting in these other dimensions.

Maybe the question is itself misguided: can we meaningfully compare composers importance, except in terms of influence (which would marginalise all contemporary classical composers)?

zhao
30-08-2007, 05:15 PM
I don't think that tradition has had a big influence. The emancipation of noise in pop music probably has more to do with the easy availability of electric guitars and distortion units than anything else.

somewhere around Bitches Brew in an interview Miles said he was primarily listening to, and interested in the music of Stockhausen and Xenakis. and do you think his use of noise influenced a few later-day musicians? these influences may not be direct, but i think very significant as far as the shaping of culture is concerned.


Soundwise nothing much is happening

are you on some kind of tranquilizer?


Rhythmically and melodically nothing's going on either. This is true for most music in this vein.

that's just not fair. that's like saying dubstep doesn't have much going on in terms of sing-alongs.


Maybe the question is itself misguided: can we meaningfully compare composers importance, except in terms of influence (which would marginalise all contemporary classical composers)?

i don't see how.

i don't know man... this record was just fucking DEVASTATING for me... like the earth opening up and the flames of hell engulfing entire cities...

Mr. Tea
30-08-2007, 05:22 PM
i don't know man... this record was just fucking DEVASTATING for me... like the earth opening up and the flames of hell engulfing entire cities...

If you liked that, you'll LOVE this: http://www.amazon.com/City-Strapping-Young-Lad/dp/B000005HNC/ref=sr_1_5/104-6179910-8786366?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1188490830&sr=1-5
:mad::eek::confused::D

zhao
30-08-2007, 05:33 PM
i prolly would like that. but i suspect it's like comparing the way Tarkovsky is devastating to the way Takeshi Miike is devastating... different breeds of monsters

Mr. Tea
30-08-2007, 05:36 PM
i prolly would like that. but i suspect it's like comparing the way Tarkovsky is devastating to the way Takeshi Miike is devastating... different breeds of monsters

I don't know who either of those guys are (or anyone else you've mentioned in this thread, bar Stockhausen :)), I was just reminded of it by the "flames of hell engulfing entire cities" simile.
But that albums utterly destroys. Check out the samples!

zhao
30-08-2007, 06:48 PM
I don't know who either of those guys are

ok new comparison:

the devastation of witnessing starships on fire off the shoulder of Orion vs. the devastation of front row seat at a top notch boxing match (where your shirt get all bloodied)

borderpolice
31-08-2007, 12:53 PM
somewhere around Bitches Brew in an interview Miles said he was primarily listening to, and interested in the music of Stockhausen and Xenakis. and do you think his use of noise influenced a few later-day musicians? these influences may not be direct, but i think very significant as far as the shaping of culture is concerned.

As I said, there was some influence, but this was 40 years ago. this is not contemporary


that's just not fair. that's like saying dubstep doesn't have much going on in terms of sing-alongs.

I said that this music was intended to be droney. Fair enough. So is some of my music. But that doesn't change the fact that it doesn't innovate rhythmically or melodically. Neither does my music, droney or not.


i don't know man... this record was just fucking DEVASTATING for me... like the earth opening up and the flames of hell engulfing entire cities...

That's great. I really like it too. I will probably sample it in some of my next tracks. Thanks very much for the recommendation. But such judgements do not go beyond individual taste which has more to do with one's individual musical socialisation. Why should anyone else care about your or my or john's taste?

zhao
31-08-2007, 01:16 PM
But such judgements do not go beyond individual taste which has more to do with one's individual musical socialisation. Why should anyone else care about your or my or john's taste?

uh oh. here we go on the subjectivity and cultural relevance merry go round...

instead of spouting my own beliefs, let me ask you what you think determines cultural significance when it comes to art. if there even is such a thing -- or is it all the same and just, like, "depends on what you like".

and if "progress" is possible or important at all in terms of building upon what has gone before -- specifically whether there is a difference between reactionary forms which endlessly recycle (indie rock?) and innovative forms which challenge and "move forward" (grime?).

popularity is clearly not a criteria with which to judge lasting significance. Vermeer was virtually unknown in his life time yet we recognise him as one of greatest dutch masters who brought the form to like, a whole other level. and countless ubiquitous things in the charts today will be forgotten next month.

nomos
31-08-2007, 05:14 PM
I think tate pretty much hit the nail on the head on the last page but no one has taken up his points :slanted:

Anyway, a couple of books dealing with the Cartesian ocularcentric bias in Western culture...

Martin Jay Downcast Eyes and Jonathan Crary Techniques of the Observer

More recently, that bias has been responded to with a lot of writings on sound, sonic perception, sonic culture, etc., along with growing amounts on work on the senses in general. E.g. Berg's Sensory Formations Series.

Also, re: an argument made above, in his new book on dub Michael Veal argues that the terms avant garde/experimental/conceptual have to be defined differently depending on whether they're being applied to a European art context or Afrodiasporic dance/electronic musics, particularly those owing something to Afrofuturist ideas. In the case of the latter (following Gilroy, Corbett, Eshun, Weheliye, etc.), he argues that the music is in fact deeply conceptual but that its version of avant gardism hinges on the dancefloor in dialogue with the performer, rather than on an autonomous, heroic individual or group.

zhao
31-08-2007, 07:21 PM
yes tate thanks for the thoughtful note, i was distracted by the one below it...


I guess I don't understand the premise of this thread at all. If you are asking why 'sound art' isn't treated in the same way as the visual arts, the obvious answer is that 'sound art' is a very recent phenomenon

not EXACTLY what i was on about... sound art itself is beginning to be taken seriously, but what i meant is in general sound/music does not occupy the pretigious, high-culture sphere that art does in a massive scale. and also as communication, as design, as a part of urban experience, it is much less addressed than visual design -- for instance, restaurants and other public places often go out of their way to have everything look sharp, and do not pay attention how aurally one's experience of the place can be designed - other than throwing on some CD that fits with the theme.

my flatmate had an interesting take: he said around turn of 20th C. music and art switched places. that prior to 1900 music occupied the central place in culture, while painting is relegated to a function of recording the likeness of the aristocracy. and after, music became entertainment, and art, once liberated from its previous mundane functions by photography, became the revered objects on pedestals that we know today.


the question of western thought's privileging of vision over sound, body, and other modes has been addressed by the philosophical tradition since Merleau-Ponty and many others writing in response to Husserlian and Heideggerian versions of phenomenology ... so i would look there ... essay collections in philosophy with titles like the hegemony of vision were all the rage some 10-15 years back, you'd be able to find lots of further ideas/support/new avenues for pursuing your question in them, just my two cents' ...

good stuff.

tate
17-09-2007, 09:37 AM
Martin Jay Downcast Eyes and Jonathan Crary Techniques of the Observer
Good call. The book I had in mind in my post upthread was an essay collection entitled Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision, and Martin Jay had a piece in it. The collection's editor was a prof of mine at the time, so I read it in manuscript and helped out a bit with editorial matters. The same year Jay was finishing Downcast Eyes, which people were excited about - it ended up being a bit idiosyncratic but definitely was and remains a worthwhile contribution to visual studies and the phenomenology of vision.

zhao
17-09-2007, 11:05 AM
the critiques of The Gaze by the french theorists: vision is indeed very loaded; it is our entry way into the symbolic order; it is the primary method of indoctrination. there is an exploitative dimension and power dynamic in the relationship between the looker and the looked upon.

to be suspicious of vision and list the ways it is controled by ideology i suppose may be the logical next step after questioning reasons for its priviledge in our society.

from nono (http://www.blogger.com/profile/11556737285393845118):


McLuhan... strangely claimed that the invention of the printing press didn't so much privilege the word over the image, but rather introduced a whole visual regime of rigid, hierarchical thinking and existing. Having to wade through his style, many people don't notice that McLuhan associated the new electronic culture, which he was so famous for promoting, with a new auditory culture that would be more fluid. He hope that the ear would come to replace the eye in the global village.

Tump
25-09-2007, 10:12 PM
Doesn't the problem with sound art from a populism point of view also come in that unlike an avant-garde work of visual art you can't just look at it and go "oh yeh" - tick the box and move on... that it occupies space in time and that only through time can its true form be perceived. As such its "difficulty" is more oppressive, its abstraction more domineering. This is why highly abstract or conceptual visual art is still relatively popular I think: its easy to take in (although only on an extremely superficial level perhaps).


I would agree, it is easy to make a piece of visual art become passive and feel like you have appreciated something (ticked the box), whereas if you were to try to do the same with sound you cannot get that superficial sense of achievement. Both forms should affect us buts it's simpler go through the motions of mimicing that affect with something we can walk away from rather than somthing we subject ourselves to for X minutes.

People, in general, choose visual art because it doesn't impose on our sense of contol?