Audio Art Examples

4′33″ (pronounced “four minutes, thirty-three seconds” or just “four thirty-three”)[1] is a three-movement composition[2][3] by American experimentalcomposer John Cage. It was composed in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, and the score instructs performers not to play their instruments during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements. The piece consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed,[4] although it is commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence“.[5][6] The title of the piece refers to the total length in minutes and seconds of a given performance, 4′33″ being the total length of the first public performance.[7] (From Wikipedia)

Emeka Ogboh:

Song of the Germans

The Song of the Germans is a sound installation by Berlin based, Nigerian Artist Emeka Ogboh for the 2015 Venice Biennale. He recorded the German national anthem in 10 different African languages (Ibo, Yorouba, Bamoun, More, Twi, Ewondo, Sango, Douala, Kikongo and Lingala). This is then played continuously, with a new arrangement each time: one singer starts the piece, then the others joining in at different points in the song, building up to the full choir.

Each singer was on a separate speaker, set at the head height of the singer. There was the really nice effect of a voice being revealed as you walked closer to a speaker. Text from:

Janet Cardiff:

Lost in the Memory Palace:

40 Part Motet:

Alter Banhof (Video) walk:

Christian Marclay: A video/audio work about the murder of James Byrd Jr who was black, by white white supremacists in Texas in the late 90’s. He was dragged to death behind a pick up truck – 

“A preface: a young Marclay was a resident at Artpace in 1999. At that point he came in from New York City, about one year after James Byrd Jr., a 49 year-old black man, was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas by three white supremacists. Back then, Clinton was in the White House, cell phones only made phone calls, social media was in its infancy, and the appalling crime was major world news. Perhaps the whole idea of Texas unsettled Marclay.

As far as I know, there is no photograph or video of Byrd’s murder, and my sense after watching Guitar Drag is that Marclay (not an artist known for warm or gushy work), made the work in November 1999 in an attempt to bear witness to Byrd’s death. There’s no use in talking about whether the video is “successful” or not under some kind of formal criteria, but rather: does it take you where Marclay is asking you to go, with him, to that country road in Jasper, to the truck, to the endless stretch of asphalt, to the scene of the crime? It does. It’s excruciating, graphic, and exhausting.

Even if Marclay originally aspired to multi-layered meaning in the work, Guitar Drag’s direct extended metaphor of a very real murder pulls the viewer, with immediacy, into an endurance test: by watching the video beginning to end, we’re forced to consider (at length) the unthinkable. In this way, the video surrenders its status as an art form and serves instead as a testament. Put simply, Marclay reconstructs the last thirteen minutes of Byrd’s life by dragging a screeching Fender Stratocaster behind a truck, in the place of the dying man, and filming it. The video is a nightmare. 

The video is chronological and shot in real time: Marclay has an old Trace Elliot amplifier strapped into the bed of the truck; he takes his time knotting a rope around the guitar’s neck (…) plugs it in to the amp, and duct tapes the cord onto the guitar. He lays the guitar on the dirt ten feet behind the trailer hitch, climbs into the truck and starts driving. There are several cameras in play (some mounted on the truck, some cameras are with unseen drivers in cars that follow and drive alongside the truck; the edit features multiple points of view). The guitar starts screaming immediately—a wailing feedback that sounds part human, part cat, and part horror-movie score. It’s loud and relentless. The sound alone is half the piece, maybe more.

Then there’s the drive itself. As you watch the video you can only think of Byrd’s terror and anguish(….)By minute two you and the guitar are done… but the drive goes on and on, and gets worse: the truck transitions from winding over weeds and gravel to a two-lane blacktop, where it speeds up (a lot) and the guitar bounces and fishtails convulsively, on and on. A helpless despair sets in.”

“Guitar Drag wasn’t screened at Artpace when Marclay was a resident; he shot it near the end of his session and still had to edit it. (If you want to read something about how meticulous he is about editing, here’s an excellent piece about the making of “The Clock.”) And I wonder what role the political time played in the delay. Since Obama was elected president and Trayvon Martin was murdered, it seems we’ve entered a new era of civil rights battles, with a fresh piece of bad news every week and right-wing pundits dog-whistling themselves into a froth. In this sense, the screening of Guitar Drag feels well-timed. (…)hate crimes of great magnitude are far from over, and we should bear witness.” Text from Glasstire


Guitar Drag:

Kelly Mark:

Marla Hlady:

Basement Base:

Basement Bass was part of the exhibition Volume: Hear Here at Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

A rotating floor has been turned into a bass speaker. The sound is the bass end of a field recording from the sub basement of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery–the droning room-scaled fans, humming air vents, gurgling and spurting water of the boiler system, etc. When a viewer stands on the floor, they feel the sound as much as they hear it.  (From

Dot-matrix Sympthony, The User

The artist creates scores to be interpreted (played) by old technologies – Dot Matrix printers:

Synth Loops, Christian Bok

The artist uses techniques and references from experimental writing and performances of sound-based texts:

See examples of graphic music notation:

Daniel Olson, Thumbrolley

The artist manipulates toy musical instruments:

Piss Record, Matthew Sawyer

The artist documents (and embellishes)  his morning pissing:

Pipes in “C”, Anna Ripmeester

This artist had a noisy pipe in her apartment and noticed it was a tone in the key of C. She decided to jam with it – in the key of C:

Jonathan Monk, My Mother Cleaning My Father’s Piano

The artist finds a found composition at his parent’s house:

One Minute Apology, Laurel Woodcock

Artist is using a record to re-mix a song, with a persistent and unrelenting message:

A Day in the Life (24 hour version), Dave Dyment

The artist slows down the Beatles Song “A Day in the Life” to literally last a full day: 

Brian Joseph Davis, Voice Over

The artist explores and re-performs voice-overs in a relentless disconnected  list that makes them all sound totally intense and absurd:

I’m Practicing My Cartoon Voices, Steve Reinke

student-aaron mora onamatapeia

Listen to these student interpretations of the assignment below: 

Lee Walton: From a project where the artist compiles the middle C note sound (and video image)  from everyone’s piano. Even though it’s the same note – the C’s are amazingly diverse: 


UBU WEB: Listen to several examples of pieces, and see if you can determine the ideas that may have prompted the works.


Make a one-minute work of AUDIO ART.

RECOMMENDED LENGTH: Approximately one minute.

Final works will be posted on the blog, or your choice of audio sharing services/sites

No late assignments will be accepted.


Students will create an audio art piece between 30 seconds and 1 minute in length.

While the conceptual parameters for this project are open, consider some of the themes and strategies of the artists listened to in class.

Some strategies may include:

-You may assign yourself (or others) a conceptual feat, and perform it, or document it in sound.

-You may combine different layers of sounds reflecting places, times, popular music, and voices.

-You may interpret or translate non-audio experiences or spaces in sound.

-You may re-interpret noise or other found sound as music.

-You may perform a list, or other kinds of interesting found or constructed language.

-You may distort or edit found sound or music, to change its original meaning and effect.

Consider audio works by some of the following artists:

Dave Dyment

Santiago Sierra

Yoko Ono

Daniel Olson

Matthew Sawyer

Jonathan Monk

Christian Marclay

Kelly Mark

John Cage

Janet Cardiff

Steve Reinke

Emeka Ogboh

After critiques and final revisions – students will post their works with a title and short description on our class Blog.

Yuula Benevolski is the ASMR website and youtube channel of Yuula Benivolski where she makes ASMR videos out of artist books, publications, zines, multiples and small artworks. To submit your work for a video please write or find her on facebook where she posts daily.Relax as I turn the pages of ten different books.

Books provided generously by Art Metropole in Toronto.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is characterized as a pleasurable tingling in the head, scalp, spine and limbs, resulting from exposure to specific auditory and visual triggers.


Sol Lewitt


Paragraphs on Conceptual Art

By Sol Lewitt

The editor has written me that he is in favor of avoiding “the notion that  the artist is a kind of ape that has to be explained by the civilized  critic”. This should be good news to both artists and apes. With this assurance I hope to justify his confidence. To use a baseball metaphor (one artist wanted to hit the ball out of the park, another to stay loose at the plate and hit the ball where it was pitched), I am grateful for the opportunity  to strike out for myself.

 I will refer to the kind of art in which I am involved as conceptual art. In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work.  When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. This kind of art is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive, it is involved with all types of mental processes and it is purposeless. It is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman. It is the objective of the artist who is concerned with conceptual art to make his work mentally interesting to the spectator, and therefore usually he would want it to become emotionally dry. There is no reason to suppose, however, that the conceptual artist is out to bore the viewer. It is only the expectation of an emotional kick, to which one conditioned to expressionist art is accustomed, that would deter the viewer from perceiving this art.

 Conceptual art is not necessarily logical. The logic of a piece or series of pieces is a device that is used at times, only to be ruined. Logic may be used to camouflage the real intent of the artist, to lull the viewer into the belief that he understands the work, or to infer a paradoxical situation  (such as logic vs. illogic). Some ideas are logical in conception and  illogical perceptually. The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple. Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable. In terms of ideas the artist is free even to surprise himself. Ideas are discovered by intuition.  What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned. Once given physical reality by the artist the work is open to the perception of al, including the artist. (I use the word perception to mean the apprehension of the sense data, the objective understanding of the idea, and simultaneously a subjective interpretation of both). The work of art can be perceived only after it is completed.

 Art that is meant for the sensation of the eye primarily would be called perceptual rather than conceptual. This would include most optical, kinetic, light, and color art.

 Since the function of conception and perception are contradictory (one pre-, the other post fact) the artist would mitigate his idea by applying subjective judgment to it. If the artist wishes to explore his idea thoroughly, then arbitrary or chance decisions would be kept to a minimum, while caprice, taste and others whimsies would be eliminated from the making of the art. The work does not necessarily have to be rejected if it does not look well. Sometimes what is initially thought to be awkward will eventually be visually pleasing.

 To work with a plan that is preset is one way of avoiding subjectivity. It also obviates the necessity of designing each work in turn. The plan would design the work. Some plans would require millions of variations, and some a limited number, but both are finite. Other plans imply infinity. In each case, however, the artist would select the basic form and rules that would govern the solution of the problem. After that the fewer decisions made in the course of completing the work, the better. This eliminates the arbitrary, the capricious, and the subjective as much as possible. This is the reason for using this method.

 When an artist uses a multiple modular method he usually chooses a simple and readily available form. The form itself is of very limited importance; it becomes the grammar for the total work. In fact, it is best that the basic unit be deliberately uninteresting so that it may more easily become an intrinsic part of the entire work. Using complex basic forms only disrupts the unity of the whole. Using a simple form repeatedly narrows the field of the work and concentrates the intensity to the arrangement of the form. This arrangement becomes the end while the form becomes the means.

 Conceptual art doesn’t really have much to do with mathematics, philosophy, or nay other mental discipline. The mathematics used by most artists is simple arithmetic or simple number systems. The philosophy of the work is implicit in the work and it is not an illustration of any system of philosophy.

 It doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art. Once it is out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way.

 Recently there has been much written about minimal art, but I have not discovered anyone who admits to doing this kind of thing. There are other art forms around called primary structures, reductive, ejective, cool, and mini-art. No artist I know will own up to any of these either.  Therefore I conclude that it is part of a secret language that art critics use when communicating with each other through the medium of art magazines. Mini-art is best because it reminds one of miniskirts and long-legged girls.  It must refer to very small works of art. This is a very good idea. Perhaps  “mini-art” shows could be sent around the country in matchboxes. Or maybe the mini-artist is a very small person; say less than five feet tall. If so, much good work will be found in the primary schools  (primary school primary structures).

 If the artist carries through his idea and makes it into visible form, then all the steps in the process are of importance. The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product. All intervening steps –scribbles, sketches, drawings, failed works, models, studies, thoughts, conversations– are of interest.  Those that show the thought process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the final product.

 Determining what size a piece should be is difficult. If an idea requires three dimensions then it would seem any size would do. The question would be what size is best. If the thing were made gigantic then the size alone would be impressive and the idea may be lost entirely. Again, if it is too small, it may become inconsequential. The height of the viewer may have some bearing on the work and also the size of the space into which it will be placed. The artist may wish to place objects higher than the eye level of the viewer, or lower. I think the piece must be large enough to give the viewer whatever information he needs to understand the work and placed in such a way that will facilitate this understanding. (Unless the idea is of impediment and requires difficulty of vision or access).

 Space can be thought of as the cubic area occupied by a three-dimensional volume. Any volume would occupy space. It is air and cannot be seen. It is the interval between things that can be measured. The intervals and measurements can be important to a work of art. If certain distances are important they will be made obvious in the piece. If space is relatively unimportant it can be regularized and made equal (things placed equal distances apart) to mitigate any interest in interval. Regular space might also become a metric time element, a kind of regular beat or pulse. When the interval is kept regular whatever is irregular gains more importance.

 Architecture and three-dimensional art are of completely opposite natures.  The former is concerned with making an area with a specific function. Architecture, whether it is a work of art or not, must be utilitarian or else fail completely. Art is not utilitarian. When three-dimensional art starts to take on some of the characteristics, such as forming utilitarian areas, it weakens its function as art. When the viewer is dwarfed by the larger size of a piece this domination emphasizes the physical and emotive power of the form at the expense of losing the idea of the piece.

 New materials are one of the great afflictions of contemporary art. Some artists confuse new materials with new ideas. There is nothing worse than seeing art that wallows in gaudy baubles. By and large most artists who are attracted to these materials are the ones who lack the stringency of mind that would enable them to use the materials well. It takes a good artist to use new materials and make them into a work of art. The danger is, I think, in making the physicality of the materials so important that it becomes the idea of the work (another kind of expressionism).

 Three-dimensional art of any kind is a physical fact. The physicality is its most obvious and expressive content. Conceptual art is made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than his eye or emotions. The physicality of a three-dimensional object then becomes a contradiction to its non-emotive intent. Color, surface, texture, and shape only emphasize the physical aspects of the work. Anything that calls attention to and interests the viewer in this physicality is a deterrent to our understanding of the idea and is used as an expressive device. The conceptual artist would want o ameliorate this emphasis on materiality as much as possible or to use it in a paradoxical way (to convert it into an idea). This kind of art, then, should be stated with the greatest economy of means. Any idea that is better stated in two dimensions should not be in three dimensions. Ideas may also be stated with numbers, photographs, or words or any way the artist chooses, the form being unimportant.

 These paragraphs are not intended as categorical imperatives, but the ideas stated are as close as possible to my thinking at this time. These ideas are the result of my work as an artist and are subject to change as my experience changes. I have tried to state them with as much clarity as possible. If the statements I make are unclear it may mean the thinking is unclear. Even while writing these ideas there seemed to be obvious inconsistencies (which I have tried to correct, but others will probably slip by). I do not advocate a conceptual form of art for all artists. I have found that it has worked well for me while other ways have not. It is one way of making art; other ways suit other artists. Nor do I think all conceptual art merits the viewer’s attention.  Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.


Sol Lewitt’s minimalist forms in cheese:

MLA : Boulard, Nicolas. “Specific Cheeses.” p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e 3.1-2 (2016).

The ongoing project Specific Cheeses started in 2010 when Nicolas Boulard realized the shape of the French goat cheese made in Valencay looked exactly like a truncated pyramid drawn by Sol LeWitt. First, Boulard gave a series of lectures on the existing similarities between traditional cheese forms and the three basic geometric shapes of minimalism (circle, square, triangle). Following this brillant theoretical tour de force reconciling organic cheese with the history of sculpture, Boulard made 12 polyethylene molds out of LeWitt’s ’12 Forms Derived from a Cube’ – a portfolio of 12 plates published in 1982. The title Specific Cheeses refers to Donald Judd’s seminal essay on minimalism ‘Specific Objects’ (1964). Each time Boulard is invited to present this project, he makes cheeses in collaboration with a local producer out of the 12 existing molds. After the Chavignol and the Brie de Meaux, Boulard collaborated with San Francisco-based Cowgirl Creamery to make a bloomy rind triple cream cheese. The work is composed of a photograph of the 12 cheeses made on the occasion. Boulard photographs each item separately using the same devices as conceptual photography. The cold and neutral shots of creamy organic cheese are then ordered in a grid to reflect the objectivity of a minimalist layout. Boulard also created the ‘Fraternity of Specific Cheeses’ whose 12 members perform ceremonies reappropriating Freemasonry’s rituals and Hell’s Angels style.

Specific Cheeses – Emmental
Pigment ink printing on paper 160 cm / 120 cm
1 ex. + 1 ea
Nicolas Boulard – 2013

Specific Cheeses – Castelmagno
Pigment ink printing on paper 160 cm / 120 cm
édition 1/1 + 1EA
Nicolas Boulard – 2014
Produced with the support of Market Zone and Giorgio Amedeo – La Meiro – Italy

Specific Cheeses – Brie
Pigment ink printing on paper 160 cm / 120 cm
1 ex. + 1 ea
Nicolas Boulard – 2012
Produced with the support of Vent des Forêts and Fromagerie Dongé at Cousances-lès-Triconville