The visualization of sound : an investigation into the interplay of the senses in artmaking

Smuts, Lyn (2008-03)

Thesis (MA (VA)(Visual Arts))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


This thesis is informed by the assumption that the senses, in their manner of functioning, may have much to teach us about creativity and the dangers of categorization. Sound, as component of at least one of our senses, hearing, the only sense with an executive component, the voice, offers a particularly rich source for theoretical investigation. Western culture has, since the Renaissance, been dominated by the sense of vision as the distancing agent that enables the objectification that has resulted in scientific advances to our benefit, but also to our detriment in its constant reductionist impulse. This western history, dominated by the eye, must be acknowledged by us as visual artists, but, in our current globalized era, sound and hearing may possibly suggest an extended paradigm more appropriate for us to function in. Sound, through movement, is proposed as a medium that shapes the structure of materials, including the earth, by that means linking it to visual art and the ways in which it has dealt with earth and landscape throughout the centuries. Sound is also proposed as an inherently relational and social phenomenon able to be incorporated into the work of visual artists to great effect in an age moving toward intersubjectivity. Sound contributes also its other side, silence, which I present as an active space of co-existence, in which gathering may take place and through which a more subtle understanding of dialogue may be achieved.

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