Harsh Noise Wally, is a sophisticated mashup mixing strips of Wally, the lazy and cynic colleague of Dilbert with some epic noise music extreme attitudes. Well conceived and assembled.
Continuum Pub Group, 296 pages, 2009, English, ISBN-13: 978-0826429711
The title of this book is a good start. In fact it starts where Marcel Duchamp’s famous definition of a “non-retinal” visual art left off. Duchamp’s point was to reject judgments about beauty in art, while here the author takes on a similar attitude in order to reject the confining of sound art into either its own practice or a small controversial sub-domain of music. In a similar strategy to what has already been experienced by advocates of video and electronic/digital art, he grounds post-war sound art (he literally begins the book in 1948) in the ample terrain of contemporary culture, especially rooting it in visual art and post-structuralism. Cohen is passionate about a specific position that he tries to foster: it’s a Derridean, postmodern narrative that leads him to, for example, harshly criticize the approach of Francisco Lopez or deeply question the heritage of John Cage’s “sound-in-itself” model. On the other side there’s a detailed and attentive study of the ideas of a few artists (Janet Cardiff among them). One of the book’s attractive features is its discussion of the conceptual details of less well-known practices, offering much inspiration for future explorations. In its latter stages, the book is mainly concerned with some of the most established artists, but there’s also a plethora of younger ones who deserve specific investigation as placement in the elaborate conceptual diagram constituting this art field is ceaselessly updating.