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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 3

Figure 1 View of the exhibition Für Augen und Ohren: Von der Spieluhr zum akustischen Environment. Objekte Installationen Performances (‘For Eyes and Ears: From the Music Box to the Acoustic Environment. Objects Installations Performances’), at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, 1980. In the foreground: artworks by Bernd and François Baschet © Hilde Zenker.

Figure 2 John Cage, 33 1/3, 1969. View of the work as displayed at the exhibition Sehen um zu hören: Objekte & Konzerte zur visuellen Musik der 60er Jahre (‘Seeing in order to Hear: Objects and Concerts of Visual Music in the 1960s’), at Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1975) © Walter Klein.

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