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date: 19 February 2020

Sound and artlocked

  • Caleb Kelly

Extract

Sound has always been and will continue to be a crucial part of art. It is present as content (ranging from a soundtrack to a video to the muttering of a performance artist), in the mind of the audience (the imagined sounds within a landscape painting), and in the environment in which the work is experienced (from the sounds of other audience members to the noise caused by the gallery café). Sound, it can be argued, has become increasingly prominent within our environment since the beginning of the 20th century, indeed it is hard to imagine a more noisy century. Alongside industrial developments, cities expanded into colossal and noisy places. The arts joined in the racket wholeheartedly, embracing noise as a fully fledged element of the avant-garde and subsequently within experimental and ‘post-modernist’ practices. While it can be argued that many art historical texts were written in silence, the actualities of art are never soundless. This entry is specifically focused on sound in visual art. That is, it will engage in the idea that sound played an increasingly vital role in visual art throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Major figures in the trajectory of 20th-century art were drawn to music and sound, as well as engaging in often noisy activities: from the Futurists and Dadaists to the Situationists, from video art to installation art, and from performance art to socially engaged practices such as relational aesthetics. When art is accompanied by sound, the field is expanded beyond the bounded realms of pure visuality....

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S. Sadie, ed.: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 3 vols (London, 1984)