Amelia Jones

“The Sound of Art”

Abstract: This paper explores performances in which image and sound are in explicit dialogue or tension in the experience of the work, although sound is often not explicitly noted or analyzed in written accounts—such as Heather Cassils’ 2011-12 Becoming an Image (a piece in which she batters a massive block of clay as illuminated only by flashes of light set off by a photographer, her grunts often the only perceptible elements in the experience of her actions) or Nicole Blackman’s c. 2005 performances in which the visual field is evacuated and sound is the only component as she whispers stories in the visitor’s ear in a pitch-black room. Why is sound so rarely accounted for in discussions of how performance art works? What happens when we attend to sound as a key element in the inter-relational exchange of bodily affect and meaning in live art works?

Bio: Amelia Jones is Professor and Grierson Chair in Visual Culture at McGill University, and is currently Visiting Professor and Robert A. Day Chair of Fine Arts at USC Roski School of Art and Design. Her recent publications include essays on performance art histories and theories, queer feminist art and theory, and feminist curating. In 2012, she published Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History, co-edited with Adrian Heathfield, and a single-authored book, Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts. Her exhibition Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art took place in 2013 at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Concordia University, in Montreal.