Within the last week, I made my final venture to a university graduate exhibition for the year. It’s a busy season to negotiate, with some institutions staging numerous events over a wide spread of locations. Something that was especially drawn to my attention, being still quite new to the exhibiting side of the visual arts world, is the level to which mixed media approaches were taken. Painting can be sound based, photography can be sculpture based, and by the time you’ve hit the media arts show, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d been to that one already.

However, searching for inter-disciplinary approaches to traditional art practices can be tricky, and some tangental thinking needs to be employed first. A good example of a book in our collection on such a topic, for example, came up when searching for synaesthesia in art.

Visual music

Obviously covering the growth in popularity since the 1960s of light shows at rock concerts, this title jumps further back to trace other such medium re-appropriations – Abstract painters at the beginning of the last century through to pre WWII era film-makers, and then onwards to contemporary VJ artists creating hardware and software that directly responds to tone and pitch.

Art and the moving image, found whilst on a trek for historical texts on video art, talks about the attitudes, hostilities, and interractions between video and film-makers and the broader art world, leading to the overwhelmingly welcoming approaches taken these days.

Art and the moving image

Then, jumping back a few thought-steps, I located Background noise, a recent title that gives a similar historical and critical view of the use of specific sounds and soundscapes in the context of art exhibitions.

Background noise

Course, if you’re searching for this kind of highly specific research – whether as a curious punter, practicing artist, curator, etc – peer reviewed journals are your best bet. Wilson Art Abstracts is a great first step, in which I found loads of articles with ‘Sound in art’, ‘video art’, and ‘mixed media’ listed as subject categories (still best to search for them one by one, though). If you’re a Victorian resident, and registered as a library user, you can access this particular resource through our web-site anywhere you can get to the internet. And, of course, it’s quickly accessible from within the library, too.

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