Exhibiting Sound is a multifaceted public outreach program hosted by the University of Alberta in conjunction with Cape Breton University and arts, heritage and cultural institutions. It is the second and final part of a series supported primarily by a SSHRC Connections grant held by Michael Frishkopf (UofA) and Marcia Ostashewski (Cape Breton University). The event follows the organizers' very successful pre-conference symposium, “Curating Ethnomusicology”, which was held at Cape Breton University in June 2015.
The concept of exhibition, a curated display of objects for public viewing in a space bracketed—as educational, scholarly, or aesthetic—from the ordinary flow of daily life, often via the agency of a purpose built environment (e.g. museum or gallery), can be traced to the eighteenth century. But until the advent of sound reproduction technologies in the 20th century such exhibitions were largely confined to—or at least focused on—the visual.
Whereas most “exhibits” continue to be conceived in the visual domain, sonic components enabled by audio technology increasingly provide essential supplements—as in self-guided audio tours, interpretive audio stations, or mobile digital media—and may become central sensory foci in the forms of sound art, ethnographic soundscapes, or scientific exhibits (e.g. in ornithology, industrial noise research, or visualization’s auditory analogue, sonification). The visual may also constitute a form of “exhibiting sound” in silence, through symbolic references, as in organological displays, or exhibits of album jackets. Some concert music also adopts a deliberate stance of “exhibition”, whether individual pieces (for instance Moussorgky’s famous “Pictures at an Exhibition”, or Messiaen’s “Catalogue d'Oiseaux”), or entire programs that are created to “exhibit” a particular composer, period, or style.
This unprecedented symposium is intended to advance creative, collective, blue-sky thinking about exhibiting sound: its nature, purposes, environments, and technologies; the processes of its curation; its relation to visual culture; and its role as creative, pedagogical, and scholarly output, across all the academic disciplines. Besides a series of seven roundtables, Exhibiting Sound also includes sound art exhibitions, distinguished keynote speakers, and concerts, at the Royal Alberta Museum, the Enterprise Square Gallery, the Art Gallery of Alberta, and the DC3 Gallery.
Ultimately, the KIAS-sponsored team aims to explore the ways in which sound has been – or could be – presented in social spaces (real or virtual) to support a range of scholarly, pedagogical, and aesthetic goals. In addition to the major knowledge exchange and dialogue events, the project will result in two legacy print publications (including a bilingual special issue of Ethnologies on “Exhibiting Soundscapes”) enhanced with web-based resources
For more information and the symposium schedule please see http://exhibitingsound.ca.