Sound art, isn’t that MUSIC? Or maybe a publicity stunt for the Turner Prize!

©2010-Cathy Read-Climbing out of obscurity- 40.6x50.8cm

©2010-Cathy Read-Climbing out of obscurity 40.6x50.8cm

So they announced the Turner Prize winner this week!

I quote, “The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.”

And the winner is…

Susan Philipz

Who’s she?

Well, she’s a “visual artist” who plays recordings of herself singing folk songs in open spaces.

Oh, that’s nice! Sounds lovely… hang on, do you mean a visual artist who creates art with sound? Isn’t that…MUSIC?

I may have missed the point here, so please enlighten me in the comments section if you understand!

But music has been a recognised art form for millennia, probably since man could first make sound.

Sound is not a visual medium – unless you can see the vibrations that is – she doesn’t seem to be doing that! Sound is an auditory art form, so why is she being given  a prize which is usually associated with visual arts?

I can understand performance art being included. Although personally, I’ve always preferred a good film.

Wait! It doesn’t actually say visual art in the definition! OK maybe, she might be eligible!

But a new development? Hardly! She plays music in public spaces, buskers and PA systems have been doing it for decades!

OK, maybe she’s the first person to call it “Art”?

She considers the making of sound “a form of sculpture”!

No, I don’t think so, most buskers would class themselves as artists. Busking is as old as the hills! And how many of them perform in subways, under bridges, etc?

And don’t tell me buskers aren’t aware of the acoustics of a place! The successful ones always consider acoustics when choosing a location.

Well, maybe the sounds are new?

Again, I can’t see it. From what I can find out, she uses  traditional folk tunes. Not even contemporary folk music! She has a pleasant enough voice, but I’d hardly call it extraordinary!

But returning to “Sound art” as a concept.

Am I alone in thinking it’s an attempt to call black, white? Have we really got to the stage where art is anything which can be described using spurious definitions? Oh, hang on, I think we have!

I know, lets just assign random meanings to words! Let’s deconstruct language so that nobody can understand anyone else! Why not, seems the art establishment has been doing it for years.

Why? I think it’s because they enjoy the feeling of superiority engendered by telling Joe Public “x” is art and seeing a blank/shocked expression! And Joe Public thinks “The Emperor is naked!”.

And yes, I know language is evolving, but can we at least agree on the evolution as a collective? I don’t see the music industry being so cavalier with their definitions. But more of that next week!

Like many I struggle when I see “The art establishment” dictating mediocre work should be acclaimed and ignoring brilliant artists.

Why should A VERY small number of the most wealthy people dictate what is “the best” in the art world. And, like sheep, masses of less influential people follow them. And if the trend setters lack taste… the rest of us are up the proverbial without a paddle!

There are artists out there who are really moving barriers and creating amazing stuff. They have integrity but don’t have the contacts to get their work really seen.

So why has she been given the award?

I do not deny she has talented! I agree what she does is art! But it’s not new by any stretch of the imagination! Unless you live in a bubble that is!

Sound art has been around, as far as I can tell, for around a century!

Personally, I love contemporary art! But, I can’t help feeling some decisions are done purely for publicity! In short so that people will react! Nothing sells like controversy!

Frustrated artist’s who have talent and principles. Who won’t try to con people! They don’t sell copy!

But a hint of “scandal” brings grabs attention!

And yes, I do appreciate the irony of that comment! Mia culpa!

I can see the argument, I just happen to think the argument is wrong!

The lunatics have always run the asylum, because we let them! Art is only influential if people buy it or give it attention. Ignoring is the only way to regain control!

So, what do you think of Susan Phillipz work? Visual Art or Music?

About CathyReadArt

Artist creating abstract art using mixed media. I believe there should be beauty in art, but sometimes it takes an artist to show others what is truly beautiful.
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