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  • On-Line Supplement:Sound Art Theories Symposium

Supplementary Material

“Something Missing”: Notes on Writing Sound as Landscape and Mise-en-Abîme (.pdf 93 KB)

From an Aesthetics of the Real to the Reality of the Aesthetic: Rancière, Sick, and the Politics of Sound Art (.pdf 359 KB)

A Sympathetic Resonance: Sound, the Listener and Affect Theory (.pdf 105 KB)

Repetition as Radical Referral: Echo and Narcissus in the Digital Index (.pdf 417 KB)

Burden Bangs Joy: Sound Art and the Return of Rock and Roll (.pdf 751 KB)

Aspects on Duration: The Vulnerability of Permanence in Site-Specific Sound Art in Public Space (.pdf 577 KB)

Sonic Possible Worlds (.pdf 107 KB)

The following papers were originally presented at the 2011 Sound Art Theories Symposium (SATS 2011), organized by the Sound Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2011. The symposium presented papers on a wide range of approaches to current theoretical work in the area of sound as art and art as sound. Abstracts from a selection of SATS 2011 papers are presented here; full papers can be viewed at <>.

"Something Missing": Notes on Writing Sound as Landscape and Mise-en-Abîme

Daniela Cascella, London, U.K.
E-mail: <>.

This text introduces an idea of "writing sound" as an activity that constantly reshapes a landscape defined by specific instances of listening to, and filling in, the space repeatedly occupied by and emptied of aural presence. It turns to the notion of "Stimmung" as "atmosphere," "mood" and "tuning," introduced by Georg Simmel in his Philosophy of Landscape (1913), to outline an idea of "writing-sound-as-landscape." In particular, the notion of landscape as a human construct is considered, to support a thesis of "writing sound" as an experience created by specific moods, yet actual as it exists in a place, and on a page. Two examples in fiction are considered—Italo Calvino's short story A King Listens (1986) and Flannery O'Connor's novel The Violent Bear It Away (1969)—to examine how sound takes shape through words, ingrained in the act of fabulation and calling for narrativity and reference. The notion of reference discussed by Bruno Latour is introduced to support a case for the function of reference in writing sound as an inclusive, necessary gesture: it carries meaning and does not call for external frameworks of legitimacy. Finally, some considerations are presented on "writing sound" as a layered construction and as the trace of the experience that makes it every time anew, gathered by the author while writing her book En abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction (Zer0 Books, 2012).

From an Aesthetics of the Real to the Reality of the Aesthetic: Rancière, Sick and the Politics of Sound Art

Michael Eng, John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, U.S.A.
E-mail: <>.

Coincident with sound art's ascendancy over the last decade has been art theory's engagement with the work of Jacques Rancière. However, there is little scholarship that has attempted to bring his thought to bear on the question of theorizing sound art. A key reason for this absence may be because Rancière rejects the modernist periodization of art, the notion of art's autonomy, and the idea of medium specificity. Such a rejection poses problems for any theory of sound art that begins with the presupposition that sound differs essentially from other artistic media.

This essay contends that Rancière's rejection of modernist principles proves more valuable for a theory of sound art than others that would argue for a sonic turn in aesthetic practice or for sound art's material specificity, which would isolate sound art and close off its political potential. The author argues that Rancière's conception of "the distribution of the sensible" helps us break away from a fascination with an "aesthetics of the Real," of which sound tends to be conceived as an emblem, to an appreciation of sound art's contribution to what might be called "the reality of the aesthetic." As an example of this contribution, the...


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