“Seeing comes before words. The child sees and recognizes before it can speak.” These are the first two sentences of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. Berger defines sight as the primary human sense and introduces the idea that we find our place in the world through seeing. What this premise ignores is the fact that sound comes before seeing, and the child listens before it looks. In this lecture David Toop will investigate the position of sound in the realm of the senses, the relationship between hearing and seeing, between silence and not seeing. What did Marcel Duchamp mean when he proclaimed "one can look at seeing; one can’t hear hearing"? Are we living in a visual age, as the cliché goes, or rather in an aural world? What can words and images tell us about sonic absences and hauntings? What are the challenges sound artists, who work in the domain of visual arts, are confronted with?

As a musician, author and curator David Toop (UK, 1949) is particularly interested in the potential of sound as a musical element, free of harmonic and tonal systems; as a reflection of extra-musical systems from biology, geography, technology, cognitive processes, social relations, political models or body language. He traces and records how today - in the world of media and technology - sounds travel through time and space, meet and converge, develop and ’live’. He documented his personal quest in several books (Rap Attack, Ocean of Sound, Exotica, and Haunted Weather), articles (The Wire, The Times and the Face, among others), exhibitions (e.g. Sonic Boom in the Hayward Gallery, London) and musical projects, often in collaboration with a wide range of artists, such as Brian Eno, John Zorn, Derek Bailey, Akio Suzuki, Steven Berkoff and Mitsutaka Ishii.

Related events

This event is part of Open Archive #1 : Trajectories in Audiovisual Art and Culture

David Toop  
  • Wed 17.10.2007
    20:30 - 20:30
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