Acoustic Art Forms in the Age of Recordability

Acoustic Art Forms in the Age of Recordability
Gerald Fiebig (2015).
Organised Sound,
„>Volume 20
, Special Issue02, August 2015, pp 200-206
© Cambridge University Press, 2015
DOI: 10.1017/S1355771815000084

Many theoretical accounts of sound art tend to treat it as a subcategory of either music or visual art. I argue that this dualism prevents many works of sound art from being fully appreciated. My subsequent attempt of finding a basis for a more comprehensive aesthetic of acoustic art forms is helped along by Trevor Wishart’s concept of ‘sonic art.’ I follow Wishart’s insight that the status of music was changed by the invention of sound recording and go on to argue that an even more important ontological consequence of recording was the new possibility of storing and manipulating any acoustic event. This media-historic condition, which I refer to as ‘recordability,’ spawned three distinct art forms with different degrees of abstraction – electroacoustic music in the tradition of Pierre Schaeffer, gallery-oriented sound art, and radiogenic Ars Acustica. Introducing Ars Acustica, or radio art, as a third term provides some perspective on the music/sound art binarism. A brief look at the history of radio art aims at substantiating my claim that all art forms based on recordable sounds can be fruitfully discussed by appreciating their joint material origins and multiplicity of reference systems rather than by subsuming one into another.


Soundscape und Aura. Zur Verortung und Entortung von Field Recordings in der zeitgenössischen Audiokunst


This essay (in German) was written for a volume accompanying an exhibition at D21 Kunstraum Leipzig exploring the possibility of addressing social and political aspects of the contemporary cityscape through soundworks. It discusses works by Jacob Kirkegaard, Peter Cusack, Biosphere, Stéphane Garin/Sylvestre Gobart, Artificial Memory Trace, Mirt, Frans de Waard, and Zander/Fiebig in order to show different strategies for decontextualising and recoding sounds of specific sites.

Der Aufsatz wurde geschrieben für den Sammelband „Verortungen/Entortungen. Urbane Klangräume“ zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung im D21 Kunstraum Leipzig. Mit welchen unterschiedlichen Strategien der Klang spezifischer Orte de- und rekontextualisiert werden kann, untersucht der Text an Arbeiten von Jacob Kirkegaard, Peter Cusack, Biosphere, Stéphane Garin/Sylvestre Gobart, Artificial Memory Trace, Mirt, Frans de Waard und Zander/Fiebig.

Wer nur hören kann, muss fühlen



Gerald Fiebig
Wer nur hören kann, muss fühlen. Versuche, Klangkunst als Medien- und Konzeptkunst zu denken
In: Annette Emde/Radek Krolczyk (ed.): Ästhetik ohne Widerstand. Texte zu reaktionären Tendenzen in der Kunst. Mainz: Ventil Verlag 2013, pp. 115-132

My contribution (in German) to this volume „on reactionary tendencies in the arts“ makes a case for discussing sound art in the context of media art and conceptual art rather than as a special case of either music or visual art. Taking valuable cues from Seth Kim-Cohen’s book In the Blink of an Ear, the essay shows that what passes as a ‚theory‘ of sound art in Germany often tends to shroud the works in esotericism instead of elucidating them. Artists discussed include Christina Kubisch, Rolf Julius, and Carsten Nicolai.

Conceptual Drones

This text (in English) from the liner notes to the first Sustained Development album relates drone music to Seth Kim-Cohen’s ideas on sound as a form of conceptual art (from his book In the Blink of an Ear). Furthermore, drones are interpreted as a reaction against the permanent acceleration of contemporary society as diagnosed by Hartmut Rosa (in his book Beschleunigung).

Dieser Text (auf Englisch) aus den Linernotes zum ersten Album von Sustained Development bringt Dronemusik in Verbindung mit den Ideen von Seth Kim-Cohen über Sound als eine Form der Konzeptkunst (aus seinem Buch In the Blink of an Ear). Außerdem werden Drones hier als Reaktion auf die permanente Beschleunigung der zeitgenössischen Gesellschaft interpretiert, wie sie Hartmut Rosa (in seinem Buch Beschleunigung) diagnostiziert hat.