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Distinguished Lecture Series: Douglas Kahn
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
5:00 pm
Conrad Prebys Music Center Recital Hall

The Distinguished Lectures Series continues with the presentation of noted professor of media and innovation: Douglas Kahn.

Professor of Media and Innovation, National Institute for Experimental Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Energies as Optic in the Arts and Music

Over the last decade vibration has begun to join sound as a means of musical and artistic understanding and possibility. Whereas sound studies developed in part in contrast to visual studies and visual arts, instead of eyes and ears, studies of vibration have moved from ears to bodies, with some venturing out to larger ontological terrain. This paper proposes adding energies to the mix. Sound and vibration are but two forms of energy among others, after all, and go only so far in addressing artistic and musical self-understandings and material cultures. Rather than percussive big bangs or harmonics of primal vibrations, the paper pulls up short of ontology to ask how the arts might perform among practices of energy that since the mid-twentieth century have entailed, pace the philosopher Michel Serres, a global self-awareness of tangible self-annihilation.

ROOM CHANGE TO ROOM 367 in the Conrad Prebys Music Center.

Please click on the image on the left for Professor Kahn's full biography.


Douglas Kahn is an historian and theorist of media arts, sound and music in the arts, energy in the arts, and science in the arts from the late-19th Century to the present, with an emphasis on the traditions of the avant-garde, and experimentalism. He was formerly Professor and Founding Director of Technocultural Studies, University of California at Davis. He was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

His books include Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999); Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts  (University of California Press, 2013); Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Arts, edited with Hannah Higgins (University of California Press,2012); and Source: Music of the Avant-garde, edited with Larry Austin (University of California Press, 2011). Forthcoming books include the edited volume Energies in the Arts (MIT Press) and the monograph Of Artists and Ecopaths: Ecological Energies from the Cold War to the Warm War (MIT Press).

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