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Voice, object and listening in the sound installations of Laurie Anderson

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Through discussion of the sound installations created by media artist Laurie Anderson, this article explores the inherent relationships between disembodied sound and materiality, and the mediated object and the perceiving subject. The focus here is on how these artworks engage participants in various forms of listening situations and what kind of aesthetic and cultural connotations are disclosed and communicated by the installations. It is argued that Anderson not only takes advantage of the characteristics of materiality and the emanation of sound to integrate her modified voices seamlessly with ordinary objects but also appropriates the object-ness of the instruments themselves and habitual bodily contact with them to bring participants into various sensory engagements. Instead of analysing the installation from a visual symbolic perspective, or conceiving voice as a language carrier, this article considers sound installation as a perceptible entity with an emphasis on dislocated sensory experiences and the dynamic process of interaction. ThisĀ approach helps our understanding of the multiple nature of hybrid media artworks and enables us to rethink the ‘taken-for-granted’ relations between the disembodied and the re-embodied, between objects, ourselves and the world.

Keywords: Laurie Anderson; acousmatic; body and listening; disembodied voice; media art; sonic object; sound installation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/padm.9.2.347_1

Affiliations: National Chiao Tung University

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • The journal is a forum to energise, innovative and inspire creative thinking and practice surrounding the combination of digital technologies with the performance arts (theatre, dance, music, live art). Disciplines may be domain-specific or in convergence.
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