An A to Z for SonicActsX
by Arie Altena
et al, with an introduction by Taco Stolk
Sonic Act Press/de Balie, Amsterdam, 2004
116 pp., illus. b/w,. Trade, $N/A; paper,
Reviewed by René Beekman
Sonic Acts started in 1994 with presentations
by students from the departments of Sonology,
Composition and Sound and Image of the
Conservatory in The Hague, the Netherlands.
In recent years, the festival organization
has been professionalized, which led to
the renowned 2003 edition Sonic Light
and in September 2004 to Unsorted.
On the occasion of the 10th
edition of the Sonic Acts Festival, Unsorted,
An A to Z for Sonic Acts X was published.
Where the festival consisted of three
consecutive afternoons and nights of live
performances, a film programme, a two-day
conference and an exhibition, Unsortedcleverly
printed in an extremely handy pocket size
format, making it something that can,
and should be read anywhereis
a collection of essays and articles on
Information arts covers art forms that
"in form and content are rooted in
the information society." What these
art forms have in common is that they
do not adhere to the old paradigms and
classifications of the art world, and
they "defy several paradigms on which
traditional art forms are based"
(p 65). So far nothing new.
Where other curators and organizers generally
try to impose their classification system
on these new art forms, for this publication
the Sonic Acts publishers have taken a
slightly different route: unsorted. That
is to say, sorted by alphabetical order,
not by author, but based on the first
word of the title of the essay. In this
way, the Colophon can be found
on page 32, and the Introduction
starts on page 54.
Unsorted opens with Lev Manovich's
Abstraction and Complexitya
short essay from his upcoming book Info-Aesthetics
on the relation between abstraction, realism
and science, comparing early twentieth
century abstract art and its relation
to the science of its day, drawing parallels
to the contemporary situation.
Following that is a slightly older, but
still valid and inspired article by Stephen
Wilson on why artists should take part
in the process of technological research.
Next is Collectives and Art, a Few
Remarks by Arie Altena on how the
artist as the lone genius has become the
centre of a network, regularly operating
in collectives, across boundaries of art
forms or even both within and outside
the art-world. Echoing Bruno Latour, Altena
concludes that "life is messy"
After the Colophon, Unsorted
continues with an interview with Driessens
and Verstappen titled Generating Art,
which is later complemented with an interview
with Casey Reas under the title Organic
and Conceptual Systems. These interviews
are the only two texts that approach the
topic from an artist's more practical
point of view and at some points are almost
too literal examples of implementations
of theoretical texts that preceded.
After these interviews we find the Introduction
and Programme, from where the essays
continue with tobias c. van Veen's feedback
loop on modernism, post-modernism, futurism,
the spread of technology and its political
consequences in "The Reverb Engine".
Will's (Stuart) paraphrase from Kandinsky's
das Geistige in der Kunst" entitled
quoting Scriabin on a parallel between
yellow and a state of joycloses
this beautiful collection of thought provoking
essays, all printed on yellow paper.