Sound Art: Is it a world of infinite realms worth challenging?
The Birth of Sound Art
Sound Art: Is it a world of infinite realms worth challenging?
The Birth of Sound Art
What would you notice first in the morning? Some would say that you could see the sunlight coming through the window or the frame hanging on the edge of the room. Others will hear morning news from living room TV or sparrows singing outside the window. Or, you can wake up in the morning with the feeling of the cold wind on your skin due to opening the window by mistake in the late autumn night. In addition, it may be rare, but when the perfume bottle on the shelf falls and breaks on the floor of the room, the perfume smells wakes you up with a stimulus that pierces the nose, or when the whisky that I drunk yesterday is still on my mouth, I feel the taste of alcohol when I wake up. In any case, the human five senses (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, taste) begin to work as soon as we wake up. I wake up in the sunlight coming through the window, but I hear the birds outside the window, feel the cold air in the room, smell the deep perfume that leaks through the broken perfume bottles, and feel the taste of whisky I drank yesterday through my tongue. Of course, from a scientific standpoint, it is possible to assume that the five senses continue to operate while humans are asleep, and that we are unconsciously rejecting the response of the five senses in our brain during sleeping. However, when explaining the five senses from an artistic point of view, it should be excluded that there is only unconsciousness and physiological response while losing the cognitive ability to reality like human sleep state. The reason for this is that in art, the five senses play a role as a kind of tool that enables the artist to express the theme he wants to express into the real world, and as a result, the audience recognizes the artist's work in the real world through the five senses. Therefore, the five senses mentioned here are the five senses from the artistic point of view, and this is a natural precondition for understanding Sound Art.
Let’s go back to the morning: as we saw above, if only one of the five senses is enough to stimulate human to be waken, why does the alarm clock only stimulate human hearing? In other words, why did 'sound' become so widely used to wake up people's sleep? There may be an alarm clock that uses flashing light or stimulates the skin to wake up. The senses that can understand art come back from waking up. Among the senses, the reason why hearing has played a role in waking up human sleep is that it is assumed that the 'sound' that stimulates hearing is the most primitive external stimulus for humans. Humans can not be seen as they grow up as fetuses in their mothers' womb, but they can be heard. The act of playing classical music for prenatal education during pregnancy or singing lullaby for the baby in the womb is an act that is made on the premise that the fetus in the womb already uses the function of hearing. Humans are born into the world in a familiar state with sound. From the moment of birth, the door of awareness of the five senses begins to open in turn, taking the breasts of the mother and taking the smell of the mother's flesh. However, it takes time to see her and recognize her existence. The moment the vision is opened, the sound of the mother's voice, smell, touch, and the taste of warm breast milk that have been familiar to the baby is forgotten in a moment. Soon you suspect and fear the presence of your mother, who you see with your own eyes. This requires a lot more time than hearing, smell, and touch and taste to recognize themselves as mothers who gave birth to them through the perspective of a newborn. Why? Why does the perception of the outside world through vision require more time than other senses?
People who reigned as stars during the radio days without TV lose a lot of fans since they were broadcast on TV because their fans' auditory imagination drawn through radio quickly collapsed due to the function of vision. Similar examples include the fact that children gradually turn away from various fantasy cartoon films (for example, animals and plants becoming main characters and unfolding stories in various imaginary worlds) that they enjoyed as a child and find more realistic dramas or movies because the children grow up and become more familiar with reality 'real' due to the accumulation of visual experience. Stevie Wonder, who has been blind for his life due to congenital visual impairment, has many works that express visual materials uniquely as sound using his synthesizers (for example, background sounds depicting sunlight in the intro part of 'You are the sunshie of my life' and background sounds building up the castle of 'Overjoyed'), which is a congenital sound. It is presumed that he had not lost his imagination of hearing due to the reality of defined by vision. If the visual arts are used only for understanding the 'real' that is only one in reality, by limiting the function of the auditory senses, then it is possible to question why there are many cases where the auditory arts are side by side utilized to the visual arts without leading the visual arts or further including the visual arts in their own category. Visual arts have presented more imagination and new aesthetic stimulation elements to human beings than auditory art, including primitive cave paintings, realism, surrealism, modern design and video art. On the other hand, auditory art has rarely provided new imaginary material to mankind through concrete and innovative development like visual art. In the history of Western music, the form of the sound using the instruments has changed, mainly the form of composition and performance, from the romantic classicalism after the Gregorian chant to the modern music and the relatively recent experimental music (Avant-garde music). This is a really small and slow development compared to the infinite imagination of the hearing mentioned above. Visual arts have already recognized the limitations of visual expression methods since the early 20th century and have tried to introduce auditory elements (a typical example is a movie). Currently, they are expanding their area to a fusion form of art (for example, food styling or video art) that has attracted all human five senses.
However, there was a clear attempt to re-recognize the potential of infinite imagination of auditory art. American composer John Cage, in 1952, through his work <4'33">, maximized the imagination of sound to the audience, and freed the subordinateness of sound to the sound that was bound by the existing musical form, thereby inducing free appreciation. The work presents the performance of a silence (no-voice) in which the pianist sits in front of the piano and plays nothing during the 4 minutes 33 seconds of the performance. During the performance of the silence, the 'noise' randomly created by the audience in the audience hall becomes the content of this work, and the audience's diverse and unpredictable reactions to the silence of the performer transform the noise into a meaningful 'sound'. The point of note here is that the noise produced by the audience is a reaction of their meaningful auditory imagination to the silence of the performer, and itself creates a new form of sound. This attempt by John Cage has since influenced many musicians, leading to the creation of a new 'sound' that stimulates auditory imagination in a more free and broad way by liberating the notes (sound) that were bound by the existing musical forms to the prominent German electronic music composer Stockhausen and Polish Western music composer Penderecki. These new sound creations have broadened the scope and importance of auditory functions in art, and in recent years many visual artists have had a decisive influence on introducing auditory materials and functions in their works. The video art pioneer Paik Nam-joon, American actor Vito Acconci, and sculptor and photographer Hannah Wilkie are artists who have tried to communicate with audiences in a broader and new way by combining sound with visual elements in their works. However, they are always visual artists, and in their works, the sound was only used as an auxiliary device of the visual theme they were trying to show. In the 1990s, the works of art in a complex form with the superiority of hearing in the visual field appeared in earnest, and they focused on 'wide re-recognition of sound', which is distinguished from visual art including existing auditory elements. The exploration of the possibility of almost infinite forms of internal expression through sound has begun in earnest, and it is the background of the birth of 'sound art' as a genre of art.
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