Thursday, June 02, 2005

Art, sound, and media

Terry Teachout (who writes the blog, About Last Night) writes in an article called "Culture in the Age of Blogging":

Clement Greenberg, the great art critic, believed “that in the long run there are only two kinds of art: the good and the bad. This difference cuts across all other differences in art. At the same time, it makes all art one. . . .” We feel the same way, which is why we write about so many different things. We think many people—maybe most—approach art with a similarly wide-ranging appreciation.

Teachout's blog is not just about music or theatre, or any other one type of art form. In music, Duke Ellington (as regularly quoted by Peter Schickele) said that "if it sounds good, it is good." I wouldn't go that far, but I've come a long way in the last couple of years in believing that all musics and representation of culture is inherently good or bad because of the genre in which they perform. Originality comes in surprising packages, and often in unfamiliar places.

Likewise, the task of choosing what recordings we are going to preserve for the long-term matters tremendously. All genres have their support groups, but they're not represented by an appropriate archive. One of my challenges as someone in interested in the preservation and access of audio heritage is in recognizing those unique materials which document the sights, sounds, and details of our past. It's one part curatorship, one part archivist, and one part artist. Now, if we could just get more artists to recognize that sound archives can have an important role to play in their art--whether it's for storage or for inspiring them to create from the music of the past.


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