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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Aural Terrains. Noise as an Art-Form

In the first week of semester one we have been dissecting the idea that noise without music can be viewed (or heard) as a legitimate art-form.  That sound can be independently sculpted into bodies of work without rhythm or melody.

This initial week was difficult for me as well as i imagine the majority of the group.  We have been trained to build and create narrative and context in everything we do.  Just as it was becoming a natural part of our process, we have been asked to abandon this structure and develop the notion of sound as a discordant and disembodied form.

Specifically we have been looking at the work of sound artists such as recording group 'The Dead C'  and composer and artist 'John Cage'.  We have been analyzing existing work and the use of different often overlooked aural features to provoke response, and often emotion in the listener.  Examples of this include distortion, feedback, resonance, even silence -or a lack of noise can invoke response, and therefore applies to this genre or method.

Initially I wasn't getting most of the demonstrations.  I found the examples we were given in class, too far removed from any art-form i had dealt with in the past, and as a result found it hard to establish a connection with any of it.  I must admit this hasn't really blossomed into a ripe understanding either.  On one hand I can see how the approach of artists such as 'The Dead C' (and earlier but less brutal adepts of sound as art such as 'Jimi Hendrix' or 'Sonic Youth') have affected many of today's contemporary music artists ('The Mars Volta' to name one off the top of my head.  On the other I fail to distinguish the correlation between this application, and that of artist's such as aforementioned 'John Cage', or the girl who screamed in public (whom I can't find online without her name -which I can't remember)...  Maybe I'm still stuck looking for some sort of structure that's not there.  I understand how it could easily be interpreted as art, but to me there really is no response.  Art should pull something from inside you or conjure some sort of emotional reaction.  I don't feel anything other than bewilderment when watching these bodies of work.  Or maybe that's the point?

"insert video of screaming girl here."

Upon further research though I found some of Beethoven's work was pulled from the public attention, as it was deemed to be merely noise.  I found this track particularly interesting.  Noise or distinguishable art?  Or both? Beethoven's audience of 1825' clearly thought of 'Grobe Fuge' as I do it's modern counterparts.

Also of note is the interesting visualization made to accompany the music in this youtube video.  Quite nifty, very mesmerizing.

Post-note: I have been frequently reminded of the 'Silent Hill' video game franchise whilst doing this project.  There is something disturbing about disembodied noise that these games used to their advantage.  It seems to be a recurring feeling in most art pieces researched in the 'sound-as-art genre'.  Maybe it's getting through to me more than i realize.

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