Sound Art

A Bloomsbury Handbook

Sanne Krogh Groth & Holger Schulze, The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sound Art, Bloomsbury Press New York 2020. 586 pages, EUR 164,50.

»At the turn of the third decade of the twenty-first century, sound art is not a niche art form or an artistic practice in peril anymore. Sound art is present and it is a valid force toward a democratization and decolonization of participation: listening, performing, producing, curating, and analyzing are just some of its generative practices. . . . Sound art is now a part of everyday life, its politics, its entertainment industry, its businesses, and its research.«

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sound Art explores and delineates what Sound Art is in the 21st century.

Sound artworks today embody the contemporary and transcultural trends towards the post-apocalyptic, a wide sensorial spectrum of sonic imaginaries as well as the decolonization and deinstitutionalization around the making of sound.

Within the areas of musicology, art history, and, later, sound studies, Sound Art has evolved at least since the 1980s into a turbulant field of academic critique and aesthetic analysis.

Summoning artists, researchers, curators, and critics, this volume takes note of and reflects the most recent shifts and drifts in Sound Art–rooted in sonic histories and implying future trajectories.

»Sound artists are concerned and engage with matters where technology and materiality, performativity and social and critical awareness become critical and seemingly require daring next steps. This handbook seeks to introduce its readers to all of these aspects of sound art in the twenty-first century. . . . Sound art today both stimulates and builds, challenges and destructs, reinvents and subverts institutions. It is concrete and physical, material and corporeal—calling for reflection, speculation, and abstraction to surprisingly excessive degrees. Sound art is rooted in a longer history and culture, but incessantly seeks a critical politicizing, decolonializing, and rethinking of the same. . . . Sound art is generative.«

Table of Content


Sound Art:
The First 100 Years of an Aggressively Expanding Art Form
(Sanne Krogh Groth, Lund University, Sweden, and Holger Schulze, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

PART ONE: After the Apocalypse:
The Desert of the Real as Sound Art

1. The Sonic Aftermath:
The Anthropocene and Interdisciplinarity after the Apocalypse (Anette Vandsø, Aarhus University, Denmark)
2. Composing Sociality:
Toward an Aesthetics of Transition Design (Jeremy Woodruff, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey)
3. Dealing with Disaster:
Notes toward a Decolonizing, Aesthetico-Relational Sound Art (Pedro Oliveira, sound artist and independent researcher, Germany)
4. Vocalizing Dystopian and Utopian Impulses
(Stina Marie Hasse Jørgensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

PART TWO: Journeys across the Grid:
Postcolonial Transformations as Sound Art

5. “Diam!” (Be Quiet!):
Noisy Sound Art from the Global South (Sanne Krogh Groth, Lund University, Sweden)
6. Curating Potential:
Migration and Sonic Artistic Practices in Berlin (Juliana Hodkinson, Royal Academy of Music, Denmark, in conversation with Elke Moltrecht, Academy of the Art of the World, Germany, and Julia Gerlach, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
7. Four Artistic Journeys:

i) Pockets of Communities
(Holger Schulze, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, in conversation with Emeka Ogboh, Columbia’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination, France)

ii) Cairo Baby-Doll:
Some Remarks on a Cairo Sound Art Scene (Søren Møller Sørensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

iii) When I Close My Eyes Everything Is so Damn Pretty:
(Can’t Do the Thing You Want, Can’t Do the Thing You Want, Can’t Do the Thing You Want) (Samson Young, composer and artist, China)

iv) Sound in Covert Places:
Indonesian Sound Art Development through Bandung Perspectives (Bob Edrian Triadi, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia)
8. Sound Art in East and Southeast Asia:
Historical and Political Considerations (Cedrik Fermont and Dimitri della Faille, University of Quebec, Canada)

PART THREE: Come: Closer…
Intimate Encounters as Sound Art

9. Kiss, Lick, Suck:
Micro-orality of Intimate Intensities (Brandon LaBelle, University of Bergen, Norway)
10. Encouragements, Self-portraits, and Shadow Walks:
Gender, Intimacy, and Voices in Sound Art (Cathy Lane, University of the Arts, London, UK)
11. Sonic Intimacies:
The Sensory Status of Intimate Encounters in 3-D Sound Art (Sabine Feisst, Arizona State University, USA, and Garth Paine, Arizona State University, USA)
12. Intruders Touching You:
Intimate Encounters in Audio (Holger Schulze, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

PART FOUR: De-Institutionalize!
Institutional Critique as Sound Art

13. Inquiring into the Hack:
New Sonic and Institutional Practices by Paulina Oliveros, Pussy Riot, and Goodiepal (Sharon Stewart, Utrecht University, Netherlands)
14. Outside and around Institutions: Two Artistic Positions

i) Working in the Sounding Field
(Annea Lockwood, Vassar College, USA)

ii) Conversations and Utopias
(Holger Schulze, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, in conversation with Mendi Obadike, Pratt Institute, USA, and Keith Obadike, William Patterson University, USA)
15. Audiogrammi of a Collective Intelligence:
The Composers-Researchers of S2FM, SMET, NPS, and Other Mavericks (Laura Zattra, Francesco Venezze Conservatory of Music, Italy)
16. Sounding in Paths, Hearing through Cracks:
Sonic Art Practices and Urban Institutions (Elen Flügge, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland)

PART FIVE: The Sonic Imagination:
Sonic Thinking as Sound Art

17. The Sonic Fiction of Sound Art:
A Background to the Theory-Fiction of Sound (Macon Holt, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)
18. Women Sonic Thinkers:
The Histories of Seeing, Touching, and Embodying Sound (Sandra Kazlauskaite, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)
19. “Specific Dissonances”:
A Geopolitics of Frequency (Eleni Ikoniadou, Royal College of Art, UK, and Alastair Cameron, Independent Scholar, UK)
20. A Universe in a Grain of Sound:
The Production of Time and Fiction in Machinic Sound Art (Tobias Ewé, The University of British Columbia, Canada)

PART SIX: Making Sound:
Building Media Instruments as Sound Art

21. The Instrument as Theater:
Instrumental Reworkings in Contemporary Sound Art (Sanne Krogh Groth, Lund University, Sweden, and Ulrik Schmidt, Roskilde University, Denmark)
22. From Turntable to Neural Net:
Sound Art, Technoscience, Craft, and the Instrument (Chris Salter and Alexandre Saunier, Concordia University, Canada)
23. The Instrument as Medium:
Phonographic Work (Rolf Großmann, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany)
24. How to Build an Instrument?
Three Artistic Positions–Articles and Interviews

i) Membranes: Materialities and Intensities of Sound (Carla J. Maier, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, in conversation with Marianthi Papalexandri, Cornell University, USA)

ii) Pickups and Strings: On Experimental Preparation and Magnetic Amplification (Yuri Landman, Academy for Pop Culture, Netherlands)

iii) Mechanics: From Physicality over Symbolism through Malfunction and Back Again (Morten Riis, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Further reading:

[To be added]