Tuesday, 3/7, 5 pm: Whitney Johnson: Learning to Listen: Textual Value Devices in Auditory Culture

Dear all,

Please join us for our last meeting of Money, Markets, and Governance Workshop for the Winter quarter, on coming Tuesday, 3/7, in Social Science Research Building classroom 401, at 5 pm – 6:30pm. 

Whitney Johnson
PhD Candidate,  Sociology, The University of Chicago

Learning to Listen:
Textual Value Devices in Auditory Culture

Discussant:  Alessandra Lembo
Ph.D. Student, Sociology, The University of Chicago

Abstract:  Sound art is a subfield of auditory culture running parallel to art music yet within the organizational domain of galleries and museums. This paper sets out to establish sound art’s tendency toward conceptualism and the contingent reliance on language to communicate these concepts to audiences. Though the data are limited to 79 interviews with practitioners and administrators in auditory culture, as well as 3.5 years of ethnographic observation in New York City and Chicago, the relationships between auditory culture and visual culture have emerged, as well. After a look at the countervailing ideals of concept and form in the gallery arts and in art music, the necessity for textual value devices becomes evident in the subfield of sound art. These devices appear as artist statements, wall text, program notes, grant applications, online platforms, and critical response, constructing value for works that otherwise might be mistaken alternately as music or visual art. Three possible explanations for the linguistic valuation of sound art will be explored: art-historical paths, technical maladaptation, and sensory learning. The last of these has implications for the relationship between the body and value in other fields of cultural economy, as well as for linguistic valuation processes more generally to dominate the sensory perception of social subjects.

Questions about the workshop or accessibility concerns can be addressed to amburkeen {at} uchicago {dot} edu.

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