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Relationship between Sound and Space in I am Seating in a Room by Alvin Lucier - Essay Example

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Relationship between Sound and Space in I am Seating in a Room by Alvin Lucier

Instead, the artists who firmly occupy one discipline – composers who compose music, artists who create visual art, and architects who fashion functional space – find themselves more readily embraced by critics and audiences. Artists whose work combines all of these disciplines however often encounter a chilly, if not confused, critical and audience response. Susan Philipsz, who won the Turner Prize in 2010, has been called the “first artist working with sound to have won the prize,” and some sound artists view this development as a positive harbinger for the discipline as a whole (Searle n.p.) Searle describes Philipsz as “just a singer, with the sort of voice you might feel lucky to come across at a folk club. But there is much more to Philipsz than a good voice. All singers, of course, are aware of the space their voice occupies, of the difference between one hall and another...But the way Philipsz sites recordings of her voice is as much to do with place as with sound” (Searle n.p.). True, Philipsz’s use of sound is extraordinary. However, Philipsz is still “singing” in the traditional sense of the word. ...
Sound artists define the term polymath; they straddle multiple disciplines, including art, music, performance art, and architecture, and become masters in each. However, the critical community has not caught up to the speed at which these artists process the physical world. Aside from the occasional Burning Man performance, for the most part sound artists remain in obscurity. This reality exists because sound art by nature occupies a fractious, shadowy space between two critical perspectives that harbor two powerful biases: the visual bias of the so-called “visual” art school of criticism, and the “music” bias of the music school of criticism. Both biases persist and effectively hamstring critics to discuss one or the other, but never both. Is it art, or is it music? Is it sound, or is it art? As Cox argues, “the broader field of sound art has been ignored by musicologists, art historians, and aesthetic theorists. The open-ended sonic forms and often site-specific location of sound installations thwart artists musicological analysis, which remains oriented to the formal examination of discrete sound structures and performances, while the purely visual purview of art history allows its practitioners not only to disregard sound art but also to gloss over the sonic strategies of Postminimalism and Conceptualism” (Cox 146). Never mind that music itself is a form of sound – in fact, all noise that the human ear processes can be conceived of as such – yet the polarizing critical perspectives persist, to the detriment of scholars and audiences alike. As Cox explains, “sound art remains so profoundly undertheorized, and…has failed to generate a rich and compelling critical literature…because the prevailing theoretical models are inadequate to it. ...Show more


Customer Name Professor Music 29 November 2011 I am Sitting in a Room Few composers explore the relationship between sound, music, and space in their work. In fact, if they do, they often cease to become composers. Rather, the action of composing sound as opposed to composing music, or focusing on raw sound as opposed to melody, forces these artists to adopt a new practice and label, willingly or unwillingly, of that of sound artist…
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