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The art that is made out of time

The art that is made out of time

Kennedy, Stephen (2019) The art that is made out of time. In: Grant, Jane, Matthias, John and Prior, David, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Sound Art. Oxford University Press, New York. (In Press)

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This chapter asks, how do rhythm, temporality and noise work through a range of media practices from painting, writing, music, and film? Artists have long employed an array of media to create what might be referred to as ‘sound art’, when that term is expanded, as it will be here, to include all work that is prefaced on a temporal flow and set against the figure of noise. What is sound art? This question seems to have been asked a lot in recent times. The intention here is not to pose it again but to offer instead some concrete reflections on what happens when other artistic practices work through sound and noise? If we take film as an example first, Ingmar Bergman has said: “When we experience a film, we consciously prime ourselves for illusion. Putting aside will and intellect, we make way for it in our imagination. The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings. Music works in the same fashion; I would say that there is no art form that has so much in common with film as music. Both affect our emotions directly, not via the intellect. And film is mainly rhythm; it is inhalation and exhalation in continuous sequence. Ever since childhood, music has been my great source of recreation and stimulation, and I often experience a film or play musically. (Ingmar Bergman "Introduction" of Four Screenplays [1960]). This quote presents us with a problem: what is intellect, and how does it relate to intuition? And further, what happens if we collapse into noise all such distinctions? What happens if we understand ‘inhalation and exhalation in continuous sequence’ as repetition rather than emotion? The above quote implies an unfolding and unstable visceral affect that is distinct from the critical distance of the intellect that resolves to extricate itself from noise, paradoxically for the medium of film, through the privileging of the visual. Bergman’s approach maintains and supports a mind/body dualism, and in the case of film, elevates the visual to the status of the sonic. For him there is a quality in music, as there is in film, that inclines it towards intuition. So, film, as Michel Chion has also noted (Film: a Sound Art, 2009), becomes a ‘sound art’ and the distinction is not located between the sonic and the optic, but between intuition and intellect, as modes of being? As such ‘sound art’ is understood as a superior kind of expression that evades the intellect and can emerge in forms other than sound itself. The overall aim of this chapter will be to address this distinction between intellect and intuition by replacing sound with the figure of noise, a figure out of which both intellectual and intuitive practices emerge - sometimes simultaneously.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sound Art
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
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Last Modified: 03 Jun 2021 16:32

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