Sunday, December 2, 2012

at the gasholder in Troy, NY

A couple of days ago I went to a very interesting talk at the CUNY grad center in midtown, called "The Status of Sound." It was healthy for me to hear people debating whether or not sound is an "object or event." Of course, I have my opinion on that but it was energizing to hear the point of view of those who seemed to be stridently against allowing for sound's materiality. Actually, I have to say that even though the discussion became heated at times (thank god!) I was happy to be in a room full of people who were actually thinking about these things.

As the presentations progressed over the course of the day, the language became less obfuscating, and more clear-- less post-modern goo-- but the concepts became more difficult and certainly more contentious. Interesting...

Also on the agenda was the question regarding whether or not sound art belongs more to music or art. Personally I have no problem with considering sound art as an extension of music, but the synaesthetic response to sound art does cause a bit of healthy confusion. In other words the organ of perception is not the organ(s) of discussion. And synaesthesic perception is something that we're all born with and then lose over time. 'Sound art' brings synaesthesia back to the foreground. If there is one thing that I think distinguishes sound art from music it is a very scientific approach, an investigation into aural perception, and to be honest sometimes it really can sound dreadful, but it's generally always interesting.

I was thinking of the object/event debate, pondering linguistic roots, again Ricouer's "Memory, History, Forgetting." I wish I had the book with me, I'll find it and put the page number in later, but at one point he observes that when something happens, we say it "takes place." Hence, connecting event to physical space.  Another word comes to mind: "transpire," which also has physical/material connotations, supporting this notion of the rootedness of event within materiality.