Associating Places: Strategies for Live, Site Specific, Sound Art Performance

Associating Places: Strategies for Live, Site Specific, Sound Art Performance

PhD Research Degree

Tansy Spinks

Completed 2014

Claims for originality in this thesis lie in bringing together many different disciplines in art, music, sound studies and performance. The methodology, contextually indebted to the dialogues of site specific art, performance, and sound improvisation, has emerged as a multi-disciplinary one, informed in part by the study of those artists from the 1960s onwards who actively sought to resist the gallery system. The practice has driven the thesis in developing and continuously testing the requirement to respond uniquely to chosen sites. By using relevant references, instruments, and sonified materials, a compulsion to convey something of the particularity of the site’s associations through sound, is performed on site.

In the course of considering the wider implications of a site through both the sound performances and the critical writing, I propose that there are essentially three aspects to identify when working with sound on site. I define these as:
the actual
the activated
the associative

The first aspect describes what is essentially inherent to the place, the second what can be encouraged to be ‘sounded’ through physical intervention, and the third outlines and forms what I have coined as the wider material of the site. This term draws on any relevant aspects of the social, physical, historical, anecdotal, and aural associations that a site may proffer.

However, it is the notion of the associative that primarily informs the research by providing a methodology for the practice and in proposing a new paradigm of a live, site specific, performed, sound art work. The twenty or so works in the portfolio undertaken hitherto have existed not only as live performances but also in virtual and physical documentation, critical 4 analyses, and in the potential possibilities brought to the form by the response of others.

By addressing this new taxonomy of approach in defining the actual, the activated and the associative as a kind of aural ground to the site (borrowing a term from painting), significant live sound art works have been developed to temporarily inhabit a space by exploring this latent material of the site.

A digital copy of this thesis and supporting documents are available from the UAL Research Online repository. A hard copy is also available at the LCC Library as a reference holding, visitors can arrange access to the Library by appointment.

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