Spring 2024 - CA 315 D100

Sound Art: History and Concepts (4)

Class Number: 7403

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



This lecture course investigates sound art as an interdisciplinary practice that draws its history and concepts from contemporary visual art, installation art, performance art, experimental music, and their various confluences. We will study historical precedents of experimental sound work as well as think critically and creatively about the themes and concerns that inform contemporary practices. Students with credit for CA 312 Special Topics in Art and Culture Studies under the title "Sound Art" may not take this course for further credit.


Since the turn of the twenty-first century a host of historical and critical works have established “sound art” as its own aesthetic genre and practice. However, much of the discourse regarding sound art concerns its interdisciplinary origins and ambiguous nature, which for that very reason makes the practice and our understanding of it exceptionally uneven and unstable. But this is not a bad thing. In fact, sound art’s inveterate obscurity is perhaps what makes it so appealing to contemporary artists who have (ostensibly) learned the (ironic) lessons of postmodernism and its discontents. For this lecture, then, we’ll treat sound art as something essentially inconsistent and protean and attempt to understand its development as expressive of a broader experimental ethos that by its nature resists disciplinary capture and technical mastery. Furthermore because of sound art's unruliness we will also regard it as a highly political activity that articulates with contemporary issues concerning the relationship between humans, technology, and global capitalism. To pursue this we will read about, listen to, watch, and discuss the ways in which sound communicates, defines spaces, shapes memories and affects the kinds of connections we forge with people, places and objects.

Specific genres, figures, and topics discussed will include: H.P. Lovecraft, sound poetry, musique concrete, glitch music, installation art, Christina Kubisch, modes of listening, imaginary sounds, Christian Marclay, distracted composition.


  • Class participation 15%
  • Short writing assignment 10%
  • Creative reflection 20%
  • Sonic fiction 20%
  • Final paper 35%


The grading is subject to change.



Weekly readings will be made available online.


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Registrar Notes:


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