Tag Archives: sound art


What is sound?

Sound can include many things. some of which includes music kinetic sculpture instruments conceptual art sound effect and much more. Edgard Varese defines sound as all organize sounds. In a performance piece 443, he demonstrated that silence is also a sound. On the other hand, Paul DeMarinis argue that there are three parts to any sound recorded.The first sound is the sound that we try to record with a bit of distortion. The second sound refers to the sound of the environment. The third one refers to the whirring mechanics of the recording machine.

How has it been used in culture and society?

Sound art has been widely incorporated into the arts. by 1955 sound arts have almost become an art fad. It is widely adapted to music, kinetic sculptures, instruments played by the wind or the general public and more.  surface noise is often employed as the backdrop for continued attention and suspended belief. In the earlier times, the sound was used to create and emphasize on the silence.

What makes it an art?

Paul Dementist that that sound art has been loosely categories into the visual arts.  Similarly, as it lacks a purpose. I strongly believe that art has to have a purpose. Art is a reflection of reality. I feel that arts should offer a new perspective and probe the audience’s thoughts and feelings. Similarly, in traditional art, the meaning of the painting does not lie within the medium but on the subject matter of the work, unlike sound art where the medium of the meaning.

How does advancement in audio technology affect our sense?’

Advances in the audio technology allow us to normalise, compress and fill every moment with sounds. This results in us rejecting the silence, and the surface noise. This has resulted in many scholars opposing the classical and academical circles elevating silence to the highest pedestal in sound. This can be seen clearly in john cage 433, where he invited a musician to “play” a piano for 4 min and 33 seconds before leaving the stage. For John Cage, this is a composition of the varrying lenght of sielnce.

Pre seminar questions


The first artwork that I chose is Electronic Superhighway by Nam Jun Paik. This is a 51 screen installation in the shape of the USA map.  Nam Jun Paik aims to explore the relation of mass media and how it affects humans. The 51 screen installation plays a different video on each screen. Paik speading up and slowing down the video, purposefully adding interruptions into the clip. This installation includes a jumble of sounds coming from the different video.

I do like this work a lot, and in fact, I think that the sound helps to further strengthen the message that Paik was trying to bring across. In this artwork, piak makes a statement about the huge amount of visual and auditory information we receive from the internet. the jarring jumble of sounds further confuses the viewers as they try to comprehend the imagery shown on the screens. Therefore I love how sound is incorporated into this piece. 


The second artwork that I have chosen is Mona Hatoum Measure Of Distance. Measures of Distance is a video work comprising several layered elements. Letters written by Hatoum’s mother in Beirut to her daughter in London appear as Arabic text moving over the screen and are read aloud in English by Hatoum. The background images are slides of Hatoum’s mother in the shower, taken by the artist during a visit to Lebanon. Taped conversations in Arabic between mother and daughter, in which her mother speaks openly about her feelings, her sexuality and her husband’s objections to Hatoum’s intimate observation of her mother’s naked body are intercut with Hatoum’s voice in English reading the letters.

Similarly, I feel that the element of sound further solidifies the artist view of an outsider. The intimate video of her mother bathing is partially hidden by the Arabic script, however, the conversation is translated into English and played in the background. The sense of the viewers as the outsider is thus furthur emphasized as we should not be able to understand this conversation, thus making them the outsiders.