New Books from Bloomsbury: Gallery Sound, Immanence and Immersion

Bloomsbury has two new books in their music/sound studies academic series:

Gallery Sound

by Calleb Kelly

Bloomsbury / Amazon

Sound is an integral part of contemporary art. Once understood to be a marginal practice, increasingly we encounter sound in art exhibitions through an array of sound making works in various art forms, at times played to very high audio levels. However, works of art are far from the only thing one might hear: music performances, floor talks, exhibition openings and the noisy background sounds that emanate from the gallery café fill contemporary exhibition environments. Far from being hallowed spaces of quiet reflection, what this means is that galleries have swiftly become very noisy places. As such, a straightforward consideration of artworks alone can then no longer account for our experiences of art galleries and museums. To date there has been minimal scholarship directed towards the intricacies of our experiences of sound that occur within the bounds of this purportedly ‘visual’ art space. Kelly addresses this gap in knowledge through the examination of historical and contemporary sound in gallery environments, broadening our understanding of artists who work with sound, the institutions that exhibit these works, and the audiences that visit them. Gallery Sound argues for the importance of all of the sounds to be heard within the walls of art spaces, and in doing so listens not only to the deliberate inclusion of sound within the art gallery in the form of artworks, performances, and music, but also to its incidental sounds, such as their ambient sounds and the noise generated by audiences. More than this, however, Gallery Sound turns its attention to the ways in which the acoustic characteristics specific to gallery spaces have been mined by artists for creative outputs, ushering in entirely new art forms.

Immanence and Immersion – On the Acoustic Condition in Contemporary Art

by Will Schrimshaw

Bloomsbury / Amazon

Immersion is the new orthodoxy. Within the production, curation and critique of sound art, as well as within the broader fields of sound studies and auditory culture, the immersive is routinely celebrated as an experiential quality of sound, the value of which is inherent yet strengthened through dubious metaphysical oppositions to the visual. Yet even within the visual arts an acoustic condition grounded in Marshall McLuhan’s metaphorical notion of acoustic space underwrites predispositions towards immersion. This broad conception of an acoustic condition in contemporary art identifies the envelopment of audiences and spectators who no longer perceive from a distance but immanently experience immersive artworks and environments.

Immanence and Immersion takes a critical approach to the figures of immersion and interiority describing an acoustic condition in contemporary art. It is argued that a price paid for this predisposition towards immersion is often the conceptual potency and efficacy of the work undertaken, resulting in arguments that compound the marginalisation and disempowerment of practices and discourses concerned with the sonic. The variously phenomenological, correlational and mystical positions that support the predominance of the immersive are subject to critique before suggesting that a stronger distinction between the often confused concepts of immersion and the immanence might serve as a means of breaking with the figure of immersion and the circle of interiority towards attaining greater conceptual potency and epistemological efficacy within the sonic arts.