by David Velez

In regard of the texts published in the Field Reporter by Edu Comelles on December 30th and Simon Whetham on January 26th, I wanted to reflect on what they said and also reflect on a series of conversations I recently had with fellow artists Juan José Calarco, Yiorgis Sakellariou and Felipe Rodriguez.

I would dare to guess that the main problem in phonographic based sound art is to determine whether the artists can understand the role and importance of their creation within the line of work in contemporary times by only having an individual formal discourse. Do they need aesthetics? Do they need philosophy?

Research in sound art comes with the potential institutionalization of the practice in terms if its entrance to the academic world. Do artists really need to take their questions to the academy to understand what they do? Any institutionalization brings power plays and a sense of establishment that could could corrupt the practice; this presents a big threat to a line of work that is essentially defined by its independent character.

To look for a possible solution I think of a model where artist concentrate in the formal and creative aspects and critics concentrate in the analytical, critical and aesthetic aspects of the practice. But where are the critics and curators in sound art? Why artists are taking both roles of creators and critics? Is it healthy? I think there we have a problem.

Phonographic based sound art doesn’t seem to appeal art critics and instead draws musical journalism which has been falling short to help the line of work to identify  and understand its role in today’s cultural agenda.

The main need now, as I see it, is to attract and / or cultivate theorists and critics that specifically focus on the theory and critic of the line of work. People with non-creative interests that can research on what artists do and serve as an external eye that mediates between the phonographic artistic practice and the world.

That could help only if artists do actually need critics and curators to define the purpose of their work on a contemporary society. But is it about the artists needs? Or is it about a society and a collective cultural universe interested on the views and practice of the artists that it bears?

If these questions aren’t taken seriously, artists face the possibility that phonographic and concrete composition becomes just a full-time hobby.


[Photos by David Velez]

David Vélez

David Vélez (PhD) is a Colombian sonic artist studying the acoustics of food, working in the intersection between sound ethnography and plant bioacoustics. His work oversteps the boundaries of installation art, field recordings, composition, performance and commensality exploring gardens, kitchens and open food markets as exhibition spaces. Vélez is interested in the strategic artistic possibility of sound and its invisible, immersive, unstable and fluctuating material, attrubutes shared with the nourishing transference of energy in food.