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The aesthetic ear: sound art, Jacques Rancière and the politics of listening

Author(s): Matthew Mullane

Journal: Journal of Aesthetics & Culture
ISSN 2000-4214

Volume: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: contemporary art | sound studies | sound art | Christian Marclay | Toshiya Tsunoda | Janet Cardiff | Janek Schaefer | Alan Licht

If we are to value “sound art” as a worthwhile creative form and a legitimate fragment in the history of art, we must move away from debates of nomenclature and forge ahead to critically examine sound's aesthetic and political potential. Approaching “sound art” as a problematic and unnecessary term, what follows is a simultaneous survey and refutation of recent publications on the topic and an assertion of sound's aesthetics via the theory of French philosopher, Jacques Rancière. Heard through the writings of Rancière, contemporary work in sound breaks out of its exclusive sphere and reveals itself as a vivid commentary on the everyday and a keen activator of “heterogeneous” political elements. Framed by an overview of the details and import of Rancière's recently translated collections is an analysis of four active artists whose work engages the “aesthetic ear” and proves itself to be more than merely sound-for-sound's sake.

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