Salome Voegelin – Listening to Noise and Silence: Toward a Philosophy of Sound Art

Salome Voegelin

Continuum Publishing Corporation, ISBN-13: 978-1441162076, 2010, English, 256 pages
The shared perception that sound art is either a restricted field with a fairly short number of valid artists, or an expanding field that would soon become a loose way of describing an artwork (like “video art”) can be disputed only with significant research and enough supporting documentation. Salome Voegelin has written an excellent book about sound art, escaping cliché and easy categorizations. She establishes a proper aesthetics and philosophy of sound, with a compelling phenomenological account of noise and silence. Time and space recur as coordinates on which she bases a progressive analysis based on the “art of listening.” In fact Voegelin radically focuses back on sound and its own nature, often underlining the evident perceptual and fundamental difference with visual processes, representation, symbols and imagination. An abundance of sound works are discussed reinforcing her theories, and less known contemporary artists are examined together with old and new icons of sound art, creating a considerable heterogeneous collection, listed at the end of the book. The author goes beyond the usual coordinates of history and the endless classification of genres and sub-genres, explaining through the artworks the centrality and specificity of sound, often explained in terms of peculiarities in time, space and sensibility. In fact she successfully introduces and fosters the notion of “sonic sensibility”, which reassumes the notable difference formulated in every page, analyzing the various embodiments of sound and art.