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PRINT May 1982

THE SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE: MAX NEUHAUS’ SIREN PROJECT

The computer’s most profound implication is that we are being forced to dismiss the classical view of art and reality which insists that . . . art can be separated from its everyday environment. . . . It has already been observed that the everyday world is rapidly assuming identity with the condition of art.

—Jack Burnham, 1969

MAX NEUHAUS IS CREATING a sound that could be used for the sirens on every squad car, ambulance, and fire truck in New York. This project suggests considerations ranging from a fool’s errand to a very defensible repositioning of that much contended barrier, moved as often as a wall in a Japanese house, between art and everything else.

Aspects of the project, despite its immaculately simple conception, have precedents in Neuhaus’ previous work, which has characteristically used sound to manipulate space as well as time, and has eliminated the auditor’s choice in

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