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Emergency Noises

Sound Art and Gender


Irene Noy

Art history traditionally concentrates on the visual. Sound has either been ignored or has been appreciated in a highly selective manner within a different discipline: music. This book is about recent attempts by artists trained in (West) Germany to provoke listening experiences to awaken the senses. Their work is revolutionary in artistic terms and in what it reveals about human relations, especially concerning issues of gender.

The main focus of the book is to explore a gendered reading of the unity between the visual and the aural, a strand most prominently expressed within sound art in the period from the beginning of the 1960s to the 1980s. The book juxtaposes sources that have not been considered in conjunction with each other before and questions sound art’s premise: is it a separate field or a novel way of understanding art? The study also opens up sound art to gender considerations, asking if the genre possesses the capacity to disrupt conventional, gendered role models and facilitate alternative possibilities of self-definition and agency across genders. Emergency Noises brings to light the work of underrepresented female artists and explores new intersections of sound, art and gender.

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Chapter 8: Epilogue: Signifying Matter


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Epilogue: Signifying Matter

The five selected practitioners: A review

By the second half of the twentieth century, reproductions of what we can see and what we can hear had been rendered into material form on a mass scale, all this brought about by rapidly increasing technological expertise. At the same time, references to the everyday gained an ever more central role in artistic practice. Mediated interaction between these two senses, and thus perceptions, formerly excluded from art brought a new set of challenges to artistic disciplines, including the visual arts and music, and attempts were made to bring them into partnership. To take a well known example from 1961, when the conceptual artist Robert Morris included a recording of the sounds produced during the construction of a box, he was pioneering a direct union between the time- and space-based arts.

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