Establishing a critical framework for the appraisal of 'noise' in contemporary sound art with specific reference to the practices of Yasunao Tone, Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis

Abstract


Yasunao Tone, Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda are three practitioners representative of electronic music and sound-art practices that emerged in the 1990s where sound materials not normally considered musical, such as digital clicks, glitches and bursts of white noise, are prevalent. It is notable that the origins of this body of work lay outside of the established music institutions of academia and the mainstream popular music industry. Practitioners such as these are often associated with particular record labels including Mille Plateaux or Raster-Noton and attempts to coalesce these practices into a single, unified genre have been made by Cascone (2000), Sangild (2004) and Kelly (2009). These assessments however, tend to critique work mainly in technological terms.

In contrast, this thesis draws out deeper philosophical concerns relevant to these practices through a critical analysis of materials produced by and about these practitioners, including commercial releases, works, writings and interviews. What emerges from this is that Heidegger's notion of truth as `revealing' and Derrida's critique of phonocentrism can provide a clearer philosophical framework for a consideration of this work. This framework, by extension could be used to critique other sound art or music practices.

Moreover, ideas found in Attali's (1985) telling of economic history through music are applied to these practices in order to argue that the use of "noise" materials reflects a wider cultural shift away from the notion of "value" as something quantified, abstract and intrinsic, predominant since the Age of Enlightenment, towards one concerned with the qualitative, contextual and extrinsic. This is related to Kim-Cohen's (2009) advocacy of a conceptual sound art to argue that noise practices represent forms of practice that challenge both notions of "absolute" music - music primarily understood 'as a numerical sign system' (Kim-Cohen 2009: 40) - and prevailing political-economic structures.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Surrey
Award date1 Jan 2016
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Language and Linguistics

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