Volumes of Sound: A Sonic Reading List
Volumes of Sound
A Sonic Reading List
Stephen Vitiello’s current project for testsite,* facilitated by Austin-based gallerist and curator Lora Reynolds, sent me to the books, so to speak. Sound art has a rich and complex history that intersects with the visual and musical world in striking ways. Perhaps an unintended consequence of occupying—and often dematerializing—a place between media, sound art often perplexes listeners; whose ears are accustomed to familiar sonic escapades, yet aural experiences are some of the most rewarding and contain a resonance that rouses each of us profoundly. In this spirit, and with a month-long August hiatus at hand, I’d like to recommend a few books about sound for you to wrap up with your summer.
✦ David Toop, Haunted Weather: Music, Silence And Memory, Serpents Tail, 2004. Toop is one of the most engaging contemporary writers on sound. He mixes personal anecdotes and listening experiences with a keen intellect and eye towards modern experimental music.
✦ Seth Kim-Cohen, In The Blink Of An Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art, Continuum, 2009. Kim-Cohen’s book looks at sound arts short history through the lens of post-structuralism, the visual arts and deconstruction. Intersections between sound and the social, linguistic, philosophical, political and technology emerge in this enjoyable read.
✦Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (Ed.), Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, Continuum, 2007. Every reading list needs a collection of writings from the fields luminaries and this is that book. Improvisation, techno, dub reggae, experimental music, hip-hop—you name it, this book addresses it.
✦Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History Of The Sound Arts, The MIT Press, 1999. One of the seminal histories of sound art that focuses on Europe in the first half of the century and the United States in the postwar years. With a title like this, how could you not crack this one?
✦David Toop, Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship Of The Listener, Continuum, 2010. Do you get the sense that I’m a Toop fan-boy? You’re right. Sinister Resonance constructs the history of listening through the narratives of painting, architecture and literature and the way in which sound functions as a metaphor for instability, desire and the unknown within them.
* Full disclosure. testsite is the right arm of ...might be good’s umbrella organization Fluent~Collaborative.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.