- sound—or its absence
From the silence encouraged by the space of the gallery to the environmental immersion of earthworks and other site-specific interventions, sound—or its absence—often marks both the means of production and the condition of reception of the work of art. Whether putting pressure on the coded acoustics of the place of engagement (Broccolichi and Urstad), exploring the audible trace of language (Katchadourian and Obadike), the evocation of the acoustic-imaginary in conceptual art and music (Candiani, Drew and Wang), sound can be worked as material (Umeda), developed as medium (Webb) or function as support.
Hailing from Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the artists represented on the LMJ23 CD are as diverse in their approaches to sound as they are in their geographic dispositions. These artists are representative not of the sound practices of their respective countries and communities, but of the breadth of approaches that must be reconciled to begin a discussion about sound in contemporary artistic practice worldwide. I have approached the curation of this CD from the perspective of an artist engaged in dialog with a growing community of practitioners less interested in the fact of a work's soundfulness than in the space that sound opens up materially, expressively and conceptually.
Many of the recordings here are static documents of works intended to be experienced in situ, while others are at home in headphones. For an understanding of the current state of sound at any given time, a sensitivity to the sound-making properties of work outside the genre-limited discourse of sound art is becoming increasingly necessary. For convenience, the word sound has stood as a placeholder for a range of much more subtle characteristics: sound can be understood not only as a physical acoustic phenomenon, but also as the audible (semiotic) presence of the voice, conceptual and physical silence and noise, the subject of both interior and exterior hearing, and the object of attentive listening. The reduction to the single descriptor "sound," has limited the hermeneutic potential of what is a rich and varied matrix of meanings while at the same time suggesting an intrinsic modernism that has only been amplified by the medium-specific rhetoric surrounding unified theories of "sound art." In the work presented here, I have attempted to proceed with a mind attuned to the multi-modal experience of works that employ sound to varied ends from expressive means to physical material, and from spatial signature to linguistic trace. [End Page 92]
Seth Cluett is an artist, performer and composer whose work ranges from photography and drawing to video, sound installation, concert music, and critical writing. His research investigates the media history of the loudspeaker and the documentation of sound in art. His work has been presented internationally at venues such as MassMoCA, The Kitchen, GRM, Palais de Tokyo, STEIM and Dundee Contemporary Arts. Recent work is documented on Line, Radical Matters, Sedimental and Winds Measure recordings. The recipient of grants and awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Meet the Composer and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundations, he holds an M.F.A. in electronic art from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a doctorate in music composition with a graduate certificate in Media & Modernity Studies from Princeton University. In the fall of 2012, Cluett joined the faculty of Contemporary Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey. For more information, see <www.onelonelypixel.org>.