Linda Ioanna Kouvaras – Loading the Silence: Australian Sound Art in the Post-Digital Age


Ashgate Pub Co, ISBN: 978-1409441564, English, 277 pages, 2013, UK

This is a rigorous study of sound art in Australia, a product of twenty years of research that contextualises key historical events and theories in the various branches of experimental music. Taking the country as a central reference the author contextualises local history alongside cultural changes taking place elsewhere in the world. Seeing postmodernism as an essential legacy, she explores and connects the ‘significations’ of the sound art works analysed, going beyond taxonomies and technical specifications. This is then embodied in a substantial effort to unify different areas and scenes beyond their technical or categorical similarities. Especially aware of the 1970s and post-1970s scenes, discussing crucial music centres like the CHCMH in Melbourne, the author also looks for traces of historico-cultural positioning and works that embody sonic interactions of the self. The narratives of the works create a shared context, incorporating a number of contemporary fields, for example those related to gender (the use of the female voice) and the environment (typically Australian). On this long and painstakingly detailed path, she also engages with coining a neologism, describing what comes after postmodern as “altermodern” (or post-postmodern). This is an excellent reference book with a huge bibliography, and a perfect companion to “Synthetics” by Stephen Jones, giving readers the opportunity to probe deeply into Australia’s seminal media art scenes.