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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathAudio

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A comparative examination of a second domain of mechanical musical instruments still needs to be made. Besides the three central aesthetic concepts mentioned, considerable social effects of music-making machines can also be made out: the representation of influence, power and wealth in the technical work of wonder; the synchronization of social groups during the course of days and years; the reflection of the everyday in depictions figured by crafts, dance, etc.; the comfort of independent background music at court and later in middle-class households and entertainment facilities; the widespread dissemination of popular tunes and operetta hits by hurdy gurdies, street pianos and music boxes.

These aspects, too, are articulated in audio art: not as a secondary effect of the social or economic processes of art, but on the contrary, frequently as the true focus of a work. Technical media are used to re-experience everyday perceptions of body, history, space or time in an aestheticized form. However, they are also critically reflected on with regard to their social potential for and effect on the individual.


Three fundamentally new ways of implementing technical media thus distinguish audio art from the traditional understanding of music as manifested in the use of mechanical musical instruments. These differences define audio art as a phenomenon of Modernity. Firstly, audio art accepts the structural peculiarities of media as the source of aesthetic rules of design. Secondly, it accepts the task of the experimental investigation of mediaspecific phenomena of perception. Thirdly, it uses media both in a critical and in a playful way against media themselves by deliberately seeking the loss of control: because the plurality of access and the unpredictableness of the results are considered to be the condition of development.


Translation by Rebecca van Dyck