John Harvey: Blog

Intersections of image, sound, and word

Sound Art

Come Together: The Chance Meeting of a Stylophone and a Fuzz-Wah Pedal on the Principle of Necessity

‘He one mojo filter’ (The Beatles, ‘Come Together’) From 1973 to 1975, several school friends and I formed a loose confederacy of music makers desperate to make the most of our respective incompetence. This attitude that has persisted throughout my life. Just because you don’t have a natural aptitude for something doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it. Indeed, with the requisite application, time, effort, understanding, commitment, and enthusiasm, […]

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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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The Amazing Bending Professor!

‘City of Bend: Noise Permits’ (website for Bend, Oregon, USA) My engagement with circuit bending (as it’s called today) first began when I was 16 years of age. I stumbled upon the technique by accident while attempting to fix a portable radio. And so did many other teenagers of my generation, it would seem. In the next four decades, circuit bending would develop into a significant sub-genre of ‘noise music’. […]

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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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‘Soh’ What!

New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise! (Alexander Pope, ‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1709)) The Noises of Art: Audiovisual Practice in History, Theory, and Culture was convened by the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on the 4 to 6 September 2013. The delegates comprised established scholars, PhD students, and independent practitioners and researchers, including musicologists, art historians and theoreticians, sound […]

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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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‘It’s Gonna Rain’ (‘After a While’)

‘Music is the soul of language’ (fortune cookie message, San Francisco, 20 06 2013). The cookie’s ‘wisdom’ is a misquotation. It should read: ‘Music is the language of the soul’. This has been a commonplace sentiment in music theory over the centuries. It’s derived from a crude essentialization of Plato’s discourse on the nature of music and its relation to the soul and the emotions, the education, and the physical […]

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