TABLE OF CONTENTS

books

sound art

SOUND ART: BEYOND MUSIC, BETWEEN CATEGORIES, BY ALAN LICHT. NEW YORK: RIZZOLI, 2007. 304 PAGES. $50.

BACKGROUND NOISE: PERSPECTIVES ON SOUND ART, BY BRANDON LABELLE. NEW YORK: CONTINUUM, 2006. 316 PAGES. $25.

SOUND ART IS an uncertain category and practice. The label itself—in circulation since the mid-1980s but only widespread during the past decade—is dismissed by some prominent practitioners and used sloppily by critics and curators. Visual artists predominantly wonder whether sound art is not really just music, and many musicians either reject the arty whiff of the term or latch onto it in hopes of gaining art-world credibility. Those for whom the term describes a genuine category of artistic practice distinct from visual art and music tend to disagree about its contents and their provenance, about the very nature of the field and its history.

Perhaps this tenuousness is due to

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