A Context for Sound and Design: Responses
Michael Capio


Whenever the difference between sound and noise is brought up, I'm reminded of a short essay written by Piet Mondrian in 1921 on Russolo and the Italian Bruiteurs. He writes that the "new reality in music is determined sound and noise." In this way, "the composition’s exact appearance is 'equivalent' to the simultaneous and continuous fusion of natural sounds." This "requires a constantly annulling opposition: destruction of repetition."

I wonder if Mondrian was familiar with Varèse's work. -- Regardless, the "simultaneous and continuous fusion" that Mondrian attributes to the "sounds of nature" lends itself to the notion of Sound Spill, as does, Deleuze's notion of "smooth spaces, composed from within strained space." But, Deleuze is a figure, like the Designers Republic, that informs the experimental music context in the 90s in a weird way. The discourse surrounding Achim Szepanski's labels Mille Plateaux & Ritornell are one example of this. So, I'm slightly apprehensive about invoking Deleuze, because his ideas - as they relate to experimental music - seem by relation to function at the level of design.


In 2002, Danish critic Jesper N. Jørgenson curated the group exhibition "Frequencies [Hz] – Audio-Visual Spaces” for the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. In Jørgenson's catalogue essay, he writes that one of the defining characteristics of contemporary sound installation is the artists’ interdisciplinary approach, where the "activities in the fields of sound and art more than ever overlap one another, becoming an integrated expression within the framework" of "contemporary culture." Here, the "inter-contextuality of artistic practice make it possible for the artists to shift between positions and professions with ease by positioning themselves in new contexts and collaborations inside and outside the art world." -- Angela Bulloch's Dior flagship store in Osaka, Japan or Limiteazero's collaboration with Tomato for Alberto Aspesi in Milan are two examples -- Accordingly, the decisive competencies of artists working in sound are those "acquired outside the processes of direct production, in the 'life world.'" In other words, professionalism and aesthetic production become integrated with "an aptitude for mastering information," which accompanies a habitual mobility offered to artists by audiovisual media and communication technology. Design seems to be the word that best describes the fusion of these things. --

Perhaps "Sound Spill" observes the "inter-contextuality" of sound's innate spatiality and structures it at the curatorial level -- like Duchamp's Sculpture Musicale, where the overlapping of sound itself becomes a kind of found object.



Noise is something objective and unknowable.
Or, it is pure surface. Sound, on the other hand, has certain spatial qualities.

For Varèse, this difference likely points to a movement away from an organizing principle that favors tonal relationships to one that embraces rhythm -- Ionisation.