Key Events In Sound Art

By Jacksta
  • Luigi Russolo - The Art Of Noises

    Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo releases his manifesto - "The Art Of Noises" - which declares that music should not be restricted to conventional instruments. Russolo believed that all sounds could be musical, and that such a belief allows for an infinite number of timbral possibilities. In the 1910s and 1920s, Russolo played a number of concerts using his noise-generating devices called Intonarumori. Many of these were met with uproar and violence from the audience.
  • Cabaret Voltaire - The birth of Dada

    A collection of artists and poets began to put on performances in the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland, expressing their disgust with the first World War and the interests behind it. These performances - anarchic "anti art" designed to ridicule prevailing standards in art - arguably signified the begin of the Dada movement, which is considered influential of sound art's boundaryless sonic expression.
  • Marcel Duchamp - "Fountain"

    French artist Marcel Duchamp submits his work "Fountain" for exhibition at the Society of Independent Artists. The piece - which is merely a urinal - was not actually displayed in the exhibit, although it has since become recognised as an important artwork of the 20th Century. Duchamp's work is often cited as a big influence on the sound art world - pushing perceptions of what visual arts can be, in the same way that sound art tries to encourage people to look beyond music's conventions.
  • John Cage - 4'33"

    American composer John Cage writes his most famous work; four minutes and 33 seconds of "silence", split into three movements. The piece was designed to encourage the audience to appreciate the incidental sounds that occured during this period of listening - chairs scraping, coughs, the sound of traffic outside - and consider them to be musical. The piece has since been re-recorded by Frank Zappa and techno-outfit New Waver.
  • Tod Dockstader - Quatermass

    Tod Dockstader releases an album comprised of various "sound objects" (recordings of anything in which Dockstader took interest), cut together into compositions. Dockstader claimed to have sourced 125 hours worth of recorded material during the Quatermass recording sessions.
  • Maryanne Amacher - City Links

    Sound artist Maryanne Amacher begins a series of sound art works that transmit the sounds of an urban environment (in this first instance, various spots within the town of Buffalo) to an exhibition space elsewhere, via the use of dedicated, high-quality telephone lines. This first "City Links" piece was 28 hours long. These works (dubbed with the term "telematic") still run to this day, despite Amacher's death in 2009.
  • Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting In A Room

    American Composer Alvin Lucier records himself narrating a text in a room, and then feeds the recording back into the room to be recorded again. He repeats this process until only the resonant frequencies of the room can be heard. Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard used Lucier's piece as the basis for his "4 Rooms" release in 2006, in which he recorded the resonance and tones resulting from excess radiation in various spaces in Chernobyl.
  • Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

    American rock musician Lou Reed releases what is considered to be an early example of noise music, as well as often being classified as a work of contemporary sound art. The album revolves entirely around guitar feedback and effects, set at different speeds. It received a scathing critical repsonse upon its release, from an audience accustomed to hearing Reed's rock-orientated material.
  • Stuart Dempster, Pauline Oliveros, Panatois - Deep Listening

    Three musicians are lowered into Fort Warden water cistern and record "Deep Listening" - four music piece that utilise the cistern's 45 second reverb. The instruments used include vocal, accordion, trombone, didgeridoo, conch shell, pipes and garden hose.
  • David Toop's Sonic Boom

    "Sonic Boom" becomes the first major sound art exhibition in the UK, bringing together 23 sound artists to exhibit their work at the Hayward Gallery in London. The exhibition was curated by British sound artist David Toop. Featured artists included Brian Eno, Ryoji Ikeda and Max Eastley.
  • SoundFjord Opens

    The UK's first sound art gallery opens. The gallery is focused on creating a dialogue within sound art, encouraging the growth of the sound art community via performances, lectures, workshops and sound walks.
  • Susan Phillipsz wins the Turner Prize

    Susan Phillipsz becomes the first sound artist to win the Turner Prize for her "Lowlands" piece, in which Susan recorded herself singing the Scottish lament "Lowlands Away" and played the recordings under three bridges on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.