AN ELUCIDATION OF PUBLIC SOUND ART THROUGH A NON-SONOROUS TRADITION
Keywords:Art, Sound, City
The origins of sound art are usually traced to previous sonorous artistic manifestations such as futurism or fluxus (see Labelle, 2006; Kahn, 1999). However, in non-sonorous manifestations it is also possible to appreciate some features of sound art that go beyond the dominant role that sound plays. By adding to the topic of sound art essential notions of temporality, spatial construction and social recognition, the emergence of a sonorous artistic practice which goes beyond the mere use of sound is revealed. In this sense, research in public sound art, which is the primary topic of this paper, provides three issues to which it is important to pay attention in order to pose new sound art theories and ideas: First, the viewer-listener, considered simply as a citizen; second, the city, understood as a sculptural space and a social space, and finally, derived from the previous two, the transformation of the concept of ‘space’ in the practices concerning the public sphere of art. The implementation of these concepts, which took place naturally in different artistic domains, represented the beginning of the creative use of sound and, specifically, the awakening of public sound art. For this reason, based on sound art studies, as mentioned above, the projection of the article goes beyond these writings in an attempt to connect sound art with the public space. Literature on sound art has described its origins through music, poetry, architecture and other disciplines. However, this article addresses its origin in connection with the specific area of the city. The sound installation’s pioneer, Max Neuhaus, will act as a guide towards this aim. This process allows a rereading of some of the most evocative examples of sound art and, at the same time, provides other references that will be valuable for assessing the growing interest in the creation of sound interventions in public space. The prolific career of Max Neuhaus, which covered a broad range of topics, will establish a connection between public sound art and artists and thinkers who are rarely linked to this medium. These connections will, however, offer new perspectives onto the most widely discussed topics of the discipline: temporality and spatiality. This inquiry into the roots of sound art is an attempt to make a contribution to its history, not only by way of evidence, but also through suggestions provided by works of art that are far removed from the medium of sound and by other contributions from different fields of studies.(1)
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