How to DO(O) Things with Sounds: A Performative (Re)User Manual

How to DO(O) Things with Sounds: A Performative (Re)User Manual

PhD Research Degree

Kevin Logan

Completed 2018

Contemporary theorising within the field of sound art practice emphasises the pursuit and function of listening as a central tenet in forming understanding and content. This research goes some way to re-balance this bias by shifting the weight of significance from listening to sounding and its practices. In its vernacular understanding, listening is commonly attributed to the human subject, whereas the potential to sound is shared by both the animate and the inanimate. It is with this in mind that I posit a doing of sound, whether anthropomorphically generated or not, as being crucial in thinking in, through and with sound.

In this thesis, I examine a performative materialism of the sonic. I advance the concept of a shared ontology between the sonic and the performative via an original application of what has been called the Performative Turn in art and the humanities, to sound art practice and its related theory. This research contributes a unique merger of concepts that are often considered to be in opposition. In combining theories that stress the primacy of objects with those that foreground agency, I am suggesting procedures for relational and generative sonic pedagogies that differ from currently accepted practices. Moreover, this adaptation moves the relational within these concepts to centre stage, creating a thinking that is disposed toward deed and emergence rather than thingness

I expound a Deed-Oriented Ontology (DOO) of the sonic through a conceptual re-purposing of recent trends in philosophy, such as object-oriented ontology (OOO), speculative realism and new materialism. This is predominantly achieved by using outcomes that employ variations upon the theme of performance presentation and lecture-event.

The structure of this thesis is such that it makes use of performative-writing practices and materiality (be that of text or sound or performance) as possessing modes of transformation, organisation and knowledge dissemination. Central to this thesis is the idea that sound art is capable of generating its own kind of thinking which is only accessible through practice-led procedures or doing-thinking.


A digital copy of this thesis and supporting documents are available from the UAL Research Online repository.

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