Sound Art

Sound Art is an artistic medium that has been employed as a term since the early 1980s. Sound Art has been difficult to categorize as many art critics view this medium as experimental music rather than a visual form of art. In essence, no visual is required for works of sound that might rely on electronics, acoustics, audio media, and other forms of sound. Simply put, however, Sound Art is the medium by which sound is made as well as listened to.



Many works of Sound Art can be difficult to categorize because their individual components overlap. For instance, it’s quite common for a work to feature kinetic sounding sculpture as well as graphic scores. Sound Art can take many forms. Because Sound Art may combine visual and audio elements, it is regarded as highly unique as artistic mediums go.

Though the term Sound Art was coined in 1983, it does have links to past art movements like Fluxus, Dada, and even Post-Modern Art. Art critics have often found Sound Art difficult to separate from music; and yet, the distinction exists in so far as the form overlaps with the visual arts. Artists who work with this medium are often interested to explore the boundaries between the visual and audio mediums to explore new experimental forms.

Some artists have postured that hearing art is the best way to see it. Many artists that create Sound Art works share this view. Well-known Sound Art artists include Jim Pomeroy, Richard Lerman, Pauline Oliveros, Keith Sonnier, Hannah Wilke, and Nicolas Collins. Many artists working in this genre employ sounds not typically associated with music. They may used commonplace sounds–background noise, for instance, but their selection of sounds encourages the experience of listening–not merely hearing sound as white noise in the background, but as an art experience in and of itself.

Because Sound Art does not deal in tangibles, it can be difficult for some to appreciate. Even so, it has been employed as an art form for decades now. Artists who create “soundscapes” and work in the field of Sound Art draw inspiration from the sounds heard all around them from factory noises to the cacophony of animals. The act of listening, however, remains an integral part of any work. Sound recording, of course, assists artists to create rich tapestries of Sound Art. Various modern and experimental museums often host Sound Art exhibitions, a reflection that this art form still thrives in the art world today.