Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art

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Background Noise

follows the development of sound as an artistic medium and illustrates how sound is put to use within modes of composition, installation, and performance. While chronological in its structure, Brandon LaBelle


s book is informed by spatial thinking


weaving architecture, environments, and the specifics of location into the work of sound, with the aim of formulating an expansive history and understanding of sound art.

At its center the book presupposes an intrinsic relation between sound and its location, galvanizing acoustics, sound phenomena, and the environmental with the tensions inherent in what LaBelle identifies as sound


s relational dynamic. For the author, this is embedded within sound


s tendency to become public expressed in its ability to travel distances, foster cultural expression, and define spaces while being radically flexible.

How does sound embed us within local environments while connecting us to a broader circumference? What consequence does sound art have for notions of spatiality and site-specific practice? Can we engage questions of identity and subjective experience in relation to listening and the resonance of place? Such questions are addressed through consideration of the work of a range of artists, musicians, performers, and composers, including Vito Acconci, Maryanne Amacher, Michael Asher, John Cage, Bill Fontana, Christof Migone, Max Neuhaus, Yasunao Tone, Achim Wollscheid, and Iannis Xenakis.

Intersecting material analysis with theoretical frameworks spanning art and architectural theory, performance studies, and media theory, Background Noise makes the case that sound art should be at the core of contemporary culture.


America's First Women Philosophers is indexed in H.W. Wilson's Essay and General Literature Index.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826418456
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 4/19/2006
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 980,270
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brandon LaBelle is an artist and writer working with sound culture and locational identities. His previous book, Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art, was published in 2006 also by Continuum. He is the editor of Errant Bodies Press and organizer of the related Surface Tension project. He is currently Professor at the National Academy of the Arts in Bergen, Norway.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : auditory relations
Fade in
Ch. 1 Sociality of sound : John Cage and musical concepts 7
Ch. 2 Exposing the sound object : Musique Concrete's sonic research 24
Ch. 3 Automatic music : Group Ongaku's performative labors 35
Ch. 4 Rhythms of chaos : happenings, environments, and fluxus 54
Ch. 5 Minimalist treatments : La Monte Young and Robert Morris 68
Ch. 6 Conceptualizations : Michael Asher and the subject of space 87
Ch. 7 Performing desire/performing fear : Vito Acconci and the power plays of voice 108
Ch. 8 Finding oneself Alvin Lucier and the phenomenal voice 123
Ch. 9 Word of mouth : Christof Migone's little manias 133
Ch. 10 Tuning space : Max Neuhaus and site-specific sound 154
Ch. 11 Other architectures : Michael Brewster, Maryanne Amacher, and Bernhard Leitner 167
Ch. 12 Composing intensities : Iannis Xenakis's multimedia architectures 183
Ch. 13 Seeking ursound : Hildegard Westerkamp, Steve Peters, and the soundscape 201
Ch. 14 Language games : Yasunao Tone and the mechanics of information 218
Ch. 15 Complicating place : Bill Fontana and networking the soundscape 230
Ch. 16 Interactions : Achim Wollscheid's production of the local 251
Ch. 17 Global events : Atau Tanaka and network as instrument 267
Ch. 18 Live streams : Apo33 and multiplying place 280
Fade out 293
Conclusion : auditive pivot 295
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