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Art Inquisition: What’s That Sound?


While the word “multimedia” may make you think of grade-school dioramas or terrible auto-play anything on inconsiderate websites, it can be used by those unfamiliar with art not in frames as a sort of catch-all phrase for any non-traditional art. Music they understand. Paintings, sure. Sculpture can toe the line, depending on how representational it is. And mention the word “installation” and you’ve got a good number of people thinking about home improvement projects. So, regardless of whether the prefix is appropriate, “multimedia” it may well be.

Though sound art has been around for decades, sound installations have recently been gaining in popularity at museums and galleries across the United States. From sculpture arranged specifically to capture the wind to generate haunting sounds to reproductions of John Cage’s epic silence to group performances nearly choral in nature, asking art aficionados to actually participate in an experience has officially become A Thing.

What do you think of this? Is ‘sound’ by itself also ‘art?’ What makes sound qualify as art? What is the difference between sound art and music? Do you play along with art installations? Do you expect museums and galleries to be quiet places? Would you let me play you a sound? Because you look pretty groovy.

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. It appears on Wednesdays at 3pm ET… Make with the comments!

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