Introduction to Sound Art

Multimedia and sound have had an important place at Drunken Boat since its very first issue in 2000. My first desire to include a full folio of sound art came at the realization that while many online literary publications were utilizing the web to bring readers multimedia and interactive pieces, sound art was curiously denied a venue. The exception, of course, being websites expressly dedicated to sound, such as textsound and PennSound. Are a few little embed tags that hard to muster? It seemed as if the popular representation of “experiemental” sound was relegated to the late 70s and early 80s—and to noise clubs in Bed Stuy.

The projects included here reflect the multi-faceted, multidisciplinary, often mercurial definition of “sound art.” Visual and non-visual, performative and interpretive, choreographed and improvisational, readymade and found, creating pieces both environmentally and algorithmically. They have been produced and perfomed in Portugal, Amsterdam, Morocco, Japan, Vienna, Germany, Canada, and both coasts of the US. When you ask “what is sound art,” you get a lot of answers.

If a photograph is about compressing time, sound is about contemplation and exploration. When asked about their work, the most common ideology between these artists has been that you really have to listen, and listen closely. Not just for a minute or two, distracted, mercenary, or inconstant—but to listen closely, for nuance more ellusive than assonance or ambiguity, setting or semiotics.

Sarah Clark
Assistant Managing Ed., Drunken Boat
January 2010