Christoph Cox

Christoph Cox

West Hall Room 413

November 30, 2009 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Sound art emerged in the late 1960s as a confluence of experimental practices in music with Postminimalist installation practices in the visual arts. Yet, four decades later, it remains profoundly undertheorized and has failed to generate a rich and compelling critical literature. The primary reason for this, I suggest, is that the prevailing theoretical models are inadequate to it. Developed to account for the textual and the visual, they fail to capture the ontological uniqueness of the sonic. In this paper, I propose an alternative theoretical framework, a materialist account able to grasp the nature of sound and to enable the analysis of the sonic arts. Moreover, I suggest that this theoretical account can provide a model for rethinking the arts in general and for avoiding the pitfalls of theories of representation and signification.


Christoph Cox is Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College and a faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College.

Cox is the author of /Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation/ (University of California Press, 1999) and co-editor of /Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music/ (Continuum, 2004). Editor-at-large for /Cabinet/ magazine, Cox also writes about contemporary art and music for /Artforum/, /The Wire/, and other magazines. He has curated exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Kitchen in New York City, New Langton Arts in San Francisco, and G Fine Art Gallery in Washington D.C. Cox has written catalog essays for exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Mass MoCA, the South London Gallery, Berlin's Akademie der Kunste, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Seattle Center, and the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. He is currently at work on a book that offers a conceptual and historical examination of sound art.

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