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Noises and Whispers: Writing about Audiovisual Reverberations in Contemporary Art

Anne Zeitz
Traduction de Simon Pleasance
p. 125-129
Cet article est une traduction de :
Bruits et chuchotements : écrire sur les réverbérations audiovisuelles dans l’art contemporain
A Personal Sonic Geology: Mathieu Copeland & Philippe Decrauzat
A Personal Sonic Geology: Mathieu Copeland & Philippe Decrauzat

Paris : Frac Ile-de-France ; Milan : Mousse Publishing, 2017, 488p. ill. en noir et en coul. 28 x 19cm, fre/eng

ISBN : 9788867493432. _ 42,00 €

Préf. de Charles de Meaux

Laura Poitras: Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance
Laura Poitras: Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance

New York : Whitney Museum of American Art, 2016, 256p. ill. en noir et en coul. 24 x 16cm, eng

Biogr.

ISBN : 9780300217650

Préf. de Jay Sanders

Les Arts sonores : son & art contemporain
Alexandre Castant, Les Arts sonores : son & art contemporain

Charleroi : Transonic ; Bourges : La Box, 2017, 89p. 21 x 15cm

Bibliogr. Index

ISBN : 9782910164645. _ 10,00 €

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Texte intégral

1It is through the lens of sound that two books, recently published to mark earlier exhibitions, reflect on the cultural, institutional and political setting of contemporary art in the early 21st century. The volume A Personal Sonic Geology by Philippe Decrauzat and Mathieu Copeland, which refers to the exhibition of the same name held at Le Plateau in 2015, and Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance by Laura Poitras, produced in association with her exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2016, question works within which sounds and images dialogue, going well beyond any synaesthesic expression. These two publications are more than exhibition catalogues. They question the relation between the exhibition and the narrative associated with it.

  • 1 Hegarty, Paul. Rumour and Radiation: Sound in Video Art, London ; New York: Bloomsbury, 2015

2A Personal Sonic Geology at Le Plateau consisted of five simultaneous broadcasts of the same video and sound track projected onto different monochrome paintings in a dark room. The intermingling of images revealed the superimposition of two film tracks made up of sequences from various 20th century artistic and musical sources, creating an impression of audiovisual layering. The geological paradigm ran through the exhibition, as it does through the book. The hundreds of images which follow one another in a constant variation ask to be looked at and leafed through layer by layer. In the vein of his book Rumour and Radiation: Sound in Video Art,1 Paul Hegarty interprets this as “creative dissonance”. He presents the potential of noise—which, according to him, shows itself in the interstices of audiovisual arrangement—by criticizing the at once theoretical and formal sterility of confining works which include an acoustic dimension.

3Noise re-appears in a quite different form in Poitras’s Astro Noise, which is inspired by the cosmological acoustic reverberations of the Big Bang. It incarnates a questioning of “post-Snowden” art and the challenges of mass surveillance. The book contains visuals of different films made by Poitras since 11 September 2001, as well as factual and fictional writings about the auditory dimension of present-day “sousveillance” (cybersurveillance or “dataveillance”)—in particular in the text Listening to the Moons by the American artist Trevor Paglen. Astro Noise analyzes all the world’s whisperings which can be potentially intercepted. The images revealing the processes intercepting radar signals, satellites and drones in the Anarchist programme disclosed by Snowden describe and frame the book’s textual part.

  • 2 Licht, Alan. Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, New York: Rizzoli, 2007
  • 3 Castant, Alexandre. Les Arts sonores : son et art contemporain, Charleroi : Transonic, 2017
  • 4 Castant, Alexandre. Planètes sonores : radiophonie, arts, cinéma, Blou : Monografik, 2007
  • 5 Castant, Alexandre. Journal audiobiographique : radiophonie, arts, cinéma, Lyon : Nouvelles Edition (...)
  • 6 Hegarty, Paul. “Eon Cores Noise Prospecting in A Personal Sonic Geology”, A Personal Sonic Geology: (...)

4Cacophonies, noises, whispers: the sound that is displayed in A Personal Sonic Geology and in Astro Noise is diffuse and confused in its relation to the visual, acoustic, artistic and extra-artistic elements on which it is based. These exhibitions and books also reveal that it is futile to want to define one sound art. In the wake of Alan Licht’s Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories2 which, in 2007, provided an encyclopaedic and richly illustrated answer to the question of what sound means in art, Alexandre Castant’s Les Arts sonores: son & art contemporain3 is part and parcel of the approach to an inventory book. After Planètes sonores: radiophonie, arts, cinéma4 and Journal audiobiographique: radiophonie, arts, cinéma5, he opts here for a path that is at once theoretical and personal, using a surprising number of artists’ works, some of whom are very little known about. It is not insignificant that the first chapter tends towards the sound-image, and that the last chapter questions works on the threshold of perception. In the wake of the major exhibitions Sound Art: Sound as a Medium of Art (2013) at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien in Karlsruhe, and Soundtracks (2017) at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, Alexandre Castant demonstrates the ubiquity of sound in contemporary art, from video works to (almost) imperceptible installations, while Astro Noise and A Personal Sonic Geology apply a line of thinking about noise—as introduced by Paul Hegarty—as an “undesirable, unexpected, uncontrollable, shapeless”6 residue.

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Notes

1 Hegarty, Paul. Rumour and Radiation: Sound in Video Art, London ; New York: Bloomsbury, 2015

Read his “Eon Cores Noise Prospecting in A Personal Sonic Geology”, A Personal Sonic Geology: Mathieu Copeland & Philippe Decrauzat, Paris : Frac Ile-de-France ; Milan : Mousse Publishing, 2017, p. 370-380 and p. 430-438

2 Licht, Alan. Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, New York: Rizzoli, 2007

3 Castant, Alexandre. Les Arts sonores : son et art contemporain, Charleroi : Transonic, 2017

4 Castant, Alexandre. Planètes sonores : radiophonie, arts, cinéma, Blou : Monografik, 2007

5 Castant, Alexandre. Journal audiobiographique : radiophonie, arts, cinéma, Lyon : Nouvelles Editions Scala, 2016

6 Hegarty, Paul. “Eon Cores Noise Prospecting in A Personal Sonic Geology”, A Personal Sonic Geology: Mathieu Copeland & Philippe Decrauzat, Op. cit., p. 372

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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Anne Zeitz, « Noises and Whispers: Writing about Audiovisual Reverberations in Contemporary Art  », Critique d’art, 50 | 2018, 125-129.

Référence électronique

Anne Zeitz, « Noises and Whispers: Writing about Audiovisual Reverberations in Contemporary Art  », Critique d’art [En ligne], 50 | Printemps/été 2018, mis en ligne le 25 mai 2019, consulté le 14 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/critiquedart/29345 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/critiquedart.29345

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Auteur

Anne Zeitz

Anna Zeitz is a lecturer at the University Rennes 2. She is a member of the PTAC/Rennes 2 laboratory and an associate member of the TEAMeD/Paris 8 laboratory. Her research deals with the relation between contemporary art, literature and film, as well as socio-political and economic issues—in particular in the field of surveillance and Big Data. As part of a research grant from the INHA (Institut national d’histoire de l’art) and the Institut Français in 2016, she worked on issues involving sonic attention in contemporary art. Let us mention among her recent publications: “Moments d’(in)attention. De la temporalité suspendue chez Max Neuhaus” (Tacet, no.4, December 2015), “Visualités, virtualités et trauma – Des temporalities de la guerre à distance”, (Multitudes, no.63, July 2016) and “De la base de données à l’amnésie” (Cérisy conference proceedings, to be published in 2019).

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