Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Tue Jul 06 2004 - 20:14:52 EDT

At 08:31 05/07/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>eg: Duchamp framing a urinal; Cage framing "silence." Art is
>in the eyes/ears of the beholder.

Sure. But the idea of framing and of perceiving the framed object as 'art'
is a social convention.

Duchamp was trying to highlight that convention in an attempt to get
everyone to think about how it worked. I think he failed spectacularly, and
the result was the exact opposite of what he intended. Instead of
illuminating how trite the process is, he made it respectable and canonised
it as a valid form of creative self-expression. (I expect he enjoyed the

This is maybe one reason why all the arts are having such interesting
problems today. A lot of what's happened since - especially sampling in
music, and cultural and sonic quotation in EA - is just a reworking of the
same idea. It's true it gets you to look/listen in new ways. But as
techniques go it's a bit of a one trick pony.

As I see it, if you make music today you can:

Recyle old formulas literally, which is more or less where rock, dance,
ambient, noise, jazz (sort of...) and mainstream classical are
You can recontextualise, quote, and juxtapose, and process, which is where
a lot of EA seems to come from
You can develop a rather anal fascination with intricate sonic and musical
structures, either under manual or software control - which is arguably
the most direct post-classical lineage

...and overlaps and combinations too.

But there's a rootlessness about all of these that feels very arms-length
to me. There's something impersonal and self-conscious about all of them,
as if signifying and stating that you're Doing Artistic Work, either with
long tracts of official Artspeak, or just by doing your damndest to look
like someone you've seen on MTV, has somehow substituted for actually doing it.


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