John Harvey: Blog

Intersections of image, sound, and word

Art History

Martin Herbert (1957-2014)

While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die (Leonardo da Vinci) Martin came into this world and proceeded to reinvent it on his own terms. That’s the indelible impression I have of a man and an artist whom I knew for a tantalizingly brief period. He was a creator of alternative histories, a maker of plausible fictions, and a hybridizer of facts […]

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Making Ready Duchamp 2: Sculpture Musicale

‘Cum on feel the noize’ (Noddy Holder, 1973); ‘Hidden Noise’ (Marcel Duchamp, 1916) On 28 October 2014, fine art and art history students on Art/Sound (an art history module run by the School of Art, Aberystwyth University) engaged in a workshop that provided a two-fold immersive experience: of noise and of silence. Both phenomenon involved attentive listening, but of different orders, intensities, and foci. One of the workshop’s aims was […]

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Making Ready Duchamp 1: Erratum Musical

‘Time and chance’ (Ecclesiastes 9.11) Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) was one of the most important visual artists of the twentieth century: the father of Dada, minimalism, conceptualism, and performance art, among other movements. He was also one of the pioneers of what would become sound art. In 1913, Duchamp developed three musical pieces of which Erratum Musical is the most complete. The title translates into English as ‘Musical Misprint’. Like the […]

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Preface to ‘Art/Sound’

 ‘What I have in my own mind is a complete fusion of the two concepts’ (Herbert Read, Education Through Art (1943)). The ‘Art/Sound: Practice, Theory & History 1800-2010’ module will be launched at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University in September 2014. It’s anticipated that this will be the first in a suite of modules, presented under the aegis of the eye(aɪ)–ear(ɪə(r)) group, designed to explore the interaction of image, sound, and […]

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‘If at first you don’t succeed — call an airstrike’ (Banksy, stenciled graffiti, San Francisco,  2013); ‘A desperate disease requires a desperate remedy’ (Guy Fawkes, London, 06 11 1605). On the streets of San Francisco there is a tit-for-tat battle in progress between graffitists and the proprietors of the buildings they’ve illustrated. The rules of engagement are as follows: one adversary tags a surface using an aerosol spray, the other […]

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The Noises of Art

Noise accompanies every manifestation of our life (Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises (1913)); I think it is in sound’s nature to be free and uncontrollable and to go through the cracks and and to go places where it’s not supposed to go (Christian Marclay). The boundary between visual art and aural modes of creative practice is porous. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, artists, musicians, and writers have crossed […]

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The Practice of Art History

As an art historian, writing is my practice (Michaela Zöschg: 30 05 2013). When I first attended art school in the late 1970s students and tutors habitually regarded art history as a subsidiary discourse, contingent upon the primary discourse of the art object. More scathingly, art historians were maligned as parasites that fed upon, infected, and, at worst, threatened the life of the host. At best, they were considered to […]

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