On Air: The Sound of the Material in the Art of the 1950s to 1970s

On Air: The Sound of the Material in the Art of the 1950s to 1970s
Library Shelf Location 33.MART
Publication Date 2022

Published on the occasion of the exhibition On Air: The Sound of the Material in the Art of the 1950s to 1970s.

With ON AIR, the Kunstmuseen Krefeld are dedicating an exhibition for the first time to the power of sounds and noises. In the art of the 1950s to the 1970s, sounds, tones, noises, and silence, as well as musical compositions, became the material that enabled a new form of sculpture and a different understanding of space. The objects, installations, and video works that now emerged are more event and process than a work of art designed for perpetuity. The exhibition features some fifty objects, installations, works on paper, paintings, videos, and performances by twenty artistic positions, thus providing insight into early sound art as it developed from kinetics to conceptual art.

From the 1950s onwards, art was set in motion, and many artists experimented with materials and things that had not previously been encountered in the context of fine art. They experimented with fire, fat, coal, and new types of synthetic materials, as well as with acoustic sounds—from silence and noise to classical scores. Sounds, noises were considered and used as both sculptural and temporal materials. Artists used everyday and industrially produced things and machines as sound sources, while also working with electronically produced sounds (radio, tape, video). For example, the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely used parts of the mechanics of a railroad crossing, reassembling them into a fantastic object and producing a piercing “bing” sound that inevitably recalls this very situation: the railroad crossing. In a video work, Bruce Nauman plays the violin and, through a permanently repetitive sweeping of the bow across the strings, produces a minimalist, tedious sound that enters into a synthesis with the video image.

In this phase of the dissolution of the boundaries of art, artists became researchers and technicians and sought proximity to the international New Music scene. The American composer John Cage, who turned everyday ambient sound into a compositional element, is an important point of reference for many—just as, for example, the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR broadcasting company in Cologne with Karlheinz Stockhausen represents a center for interdisciplinary exchange.

To this day, the resounding, rattling, screeching objects and installations beg to be seen and heard—and also invite viewers to participate—thus demanding synesthetic perception.

The exhibition ON AIR provides extraordinary insights into the art of the 1950s to the 1970s and focuses on the interaction between sound and object, sound and space. In doing so, it provides an in-depth exploration of the broad field of sound art.

Ed. Sylvia Martin. With texts by Maike Aden, Katia Baudin, Christina Dörfling, Marcus Erbe, Sylvia Martin, Dietmar Rübel sowie von Bettina Dunker, Magdalena Holzhey, Annja Müller-Alsbach, Christina Penetsdorfer, Uwe Schneede, Anna-Lena Weise, Thekla Zell

ISBN 9783969121092
Quantity 1
Pages 320pp, 19.5 × 25 cm,
Editor Sylvia Martin
Format Softcover
Publisher DCV
Related Artists Yaacov Agam, Arman, John Baldessari, Joseph Beuys, Henning Christiansen, Pol Bury, Jan Dibbets, Herman Goepfert, Yves Klein, Jannis Kounellis, Bernhard Leitner, Bruce Nauman, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Curt Stenvert, Daniel Spoerri, Takis, Jean Tinguely, David Tudor, Günther Uecker, Timm Ulrichs, Günter Weseler, Composers Inside Electronics
Category Audio/Sound Art/Music
Keywords Sound Art, Sound, soundscapes, Soundscape, audio-visual, Experimental art, Experimental Media, Experimental Music, Noise, Music Technologies, Performance Art, Sculpture, Machine sculptures, Acoustics, mixed media sculpture
Languages German, English

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