5-23 MAY 2014

This intensive summer graduate course takes as its primary interest sound and sound art, especially as it has unfolded in and around the visual arts, its discourses, and institutions during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Themes to be explored include: the challenges sound and sound art pose to “the visual arts” and visual culture more broadly as well as the opportunities emerging out of these; the materialities of sound and the role the latter might play within emergent speculative thought; and modes of intuiting novel political orientations through sonic practices. In addition, the course will consider sound as one means of navigating transdisciplinary vectors that cut across the domains of art, science, and technology. Taking its cue from a range of mid twentieth-century propositions associated with the artistic avant-garde, the course will be structured through a series of on- and off-campus “actions” that will allow students to consider these themes at the seminar table, in the studio, on the street, and in the gallery.

Course content will be investigated through readings and round-table discussions, various in-class exercises, first-hand engagement with works of art, a field recording workshop on listening practices, a charrette on curating sound, field trips, and a performance at the Music Gallery. There will also be a public lecture and panel designed to augment course content. Students will be encouraged to take all that is presented and respond to/work with it in ways that support their own particular interests.

The course will be co-taught by York professors MARC COUROUX and LESLIE KORRICK in collaboration with historians, artists, and curators. Among these, students will have an opportunity to work closely with scholar DOUGLAS KAHN, Professor of Media and Innovation at the National Institute of Experimental Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney; sound artist HONG-KAI WANG, artist and Ph.D. candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna; and TRINE FRIIS SØRENSEN, independent curator and Ph.D. Fellow at the LARM Audio Research Archive, Copenhagen.



The readings are intended to contextualize and complicate themes and ideas that are central to course content. Given that the course is a three-week intensive with a wide variety of activities attached to it, readings appear in clusters and should be prepared prior to the class to which they are linked. For classes with more than one reading, please take them on in the order that they are listed.

May 5

Anne Thurmann-Jajes. “Sound Art”  Trans. Judith Rosenthal. In Sound Art: Zwischen Avantgarde und Popkultur. (Schriftenreihe für Kunstlerpublikationen 3). Ed. Anne Thurmann-Jajes, Sabine Breitsameter, Winfried Pauleit. 2006, pp. 29-35

Paul Hegarty. “Sound Art”  in Noise/Music: A History. London: Continuum, 2006, pp. 169-178.

Christoph Cox. “Beyond Representation and Signification: Toward a Sonic Materialism” in Journal of Visual Culture 10(2) (2011): 145-161

May 6

WTJ Mitchell. “There Are No Visual Media” in Journal of Visual Culture 4(2) (2005): 257-266

May 7

Michel Serres. “Revisiting the Natural Contract” in CTheory. 1000 Days of Theory (2006) td039

Douglas Kahn. Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

Introduction (pp. 1-24) & One Chapter:

1. Thomas Watson: Natural Radio, Natural Theology (Sasha)
2. Microphonic Imagination (Jorge)
3. The Aeolian and Henry David Thoreau’s Sphere Music (Erin)
4. The Aelectrosonic and Energetic Environments (Marina)
5. Inductive Radio and Whistling Currents (Colleen)
6. Alvin Lucier: Brainwaves (Jennifer)
7. Edmond Dewan and Cybernetic Hi-Fi (Alejandro)
8. Alvin Lucier: Whistlers (Frances M.)
9. From Brainwaves to Outer Space (Ella)
10. For More New Signals (Ian)
11. Sound of the Underground (Amy 133-153; Sara 153-161)
12. Long Sounds and Transperception (Anna)
13. Pauline Oliveros: Sonosphere (Emmie)
14. Thomas Ashcraft: Electroreceptor (Christine)
15. Black Sun, Black Rain (Frances T.)
16. Star-Studded Cinema (Zoe)
17. Robert Barry: Conceptualism and Energy (Katie)
18. Collaborating Objects Radiating Environments (Claire)
19. Joyce Hinterding: Drawing Energy (Scott)

May 8

G. Douglas Barrett & Lindsey Lodhie. “Hearing Things Through Things: Hong-Kai Wang’s Music While We Work” in Ear Wave Event, Issue One (2014): 1-6

Édouard Glissant. “For Opacity” in Poetics of Relation. Trans. Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1997, pp. 189-194. (Originally published as: Poétique de la relation. Paris: Gallimard, 1990.)

Ultra-Red. In the Middle of a Whirlwind—Some Theses on Militant Sound Investigation in The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Issue 6 (2008)

May 12

Steven Connor. “Ears Have Walls” in FO A RM 4 (2005): 48-57.

Steven Connor. “Ear Room” A talk given at the Audio Forensics Symposium, Image-Music-Text Gallery, London, 30 November, 2008.

Reviews TBA.

May 13

On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Working Speculatively: A Survey with Statements by Diedrich Diederichsen, Karen Harrasser, Jenny Jaskey, Jutta Koether, and Sam Lewitt” in Texte zur Kunst, 24, No. 93 (March 2014): 144-185

May 14 

Chris Fleming & John O’Carroll. “The Art of the Hoax” in Parallax 16:4 (2010): 45-59

eldritch Priest. Chapter 3—Nonsense (excerpt pp. 195-222) in Boring Formless Nonsense: Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure. London: Continuum, 2013.

May 15

Paul O’Neill. “Curating as a Medium of Artistic Practice: The Convergence of Art and Curatorial Practice since the 1990s” in The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s). Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012, pp. 87-129.