Sound in IB Art

Sound Art in IB Visual Arts?

At the moment, sound elements in work submitted for The Exhibition are not considered as part of the visual arts assessment. Examiners are instructed to "turn off sound" when listening to videos clips. This is because many students simply upload a song or find something online that they use as a soundtrack, which is not the same thing as creating an artistic audio element themselves.

Maybe if there is greater awareness around the role of Sound in Contemporary Art practice and students begin to experiment more creatively with these possibilities, then we will see sound recognized in the assessment of student work. This is a point of discussion that has yet to be resolved.

Example of an IB student using sound in her exhibition


Exhibition Text

Title: Tinnitus,
Medium: Ceramic, Acrylic paint, i pod with recorded static sound
Size: 5x5 cm each
This series of small ceramic ears is made with a mold and splattered with paint to represent a visual equivilent of tinnitus. Behind one ear is hidden a tiny ipod with headphones that transmits a high constant ringing tone that can be uncomfortable to listen to.

Note: I am not recommending that IB Art students engage in making sound installations for their final assessments  but I am hoping that as we begin to consider it as an art making form, it may be eventually added to the Art Making Forms Table .

And, if we look at whats happening in higher education....

It is now possibile to study for an interdisciplinary fine arts degree in Sound Art in many art colleges and universities.  

For example, Sound Art at Colombia University

"Sound Art students will pursue creative work in a variety of genres and focus on the integration of sound with other media. Sounds Arts is a studio-based program in conjunction with the Visual Arts Program. As such, it gives the students the freedom to explore work in sculpture, video, wood as well as computer programming, performance and conceptual strategies. First-year students are assigned a small studio, and second-year students receive a large studio."

Discover more about Sound Art

Art which uses sound both as its medium (what it is made out of) and as its subject (what it is about) check out these links

Sound in Contemporary Art

Go to any cutting edge contemporary art fair, show, Biennale and you will find artists using sound as a medium, as well as the usual more familiar tools of visual artists.Sound Art is Art which uses...

The Tate webpage dedicated to sound art to learn about its' history,( did you know sound art existed as early as the 1930s?), and about other artists working in this medium. Remember John Cage? Kurt Schwitters?

Teaching Activity

A TOK and Art discussion: Is Sound Visual?

( does visual art need to be visual?)

Here is an excellent opportunity for a TOK discussion. Divide the class into two groups, the Stuckists group and the Pro-Turner Prize group. Both groups must read the background material provided below , then debate the validity of the Turner prize contestants artwork.

Pro-Turner Prize group

There is a new generation of "visual "artists working with sound installation as an art form. Sound Art is so-called fine art in which audio is the core and often involves electronically produced noises, like the 2010 Turner Prize winner Susan Philipz who won the prestigious prize for a sound installation called Lowlands.

"Lowlands," involved recordings of her singing a traditional and popular Scottish song, "Lowlands Away," played by the river Clyde in her native Glasgow. Her plain, natural, untrained voice echoed against a massive bridge structure, and mixed in with the sounds of the environment.

Find out about Susan Philipsz

Sculptor in Sound ( Guardian)

Watch and listen to the video

 The Turner Prize....

The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.
The prize is awarded each year to 'a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding'.
Nominations are invited each year, and the prize is judged by an independent jury that changes annually. The four shortlisted artists present works in a show normally held at Tate Britain before the winner is announced in December. Artists are not judged on their show at Tate. The decision is based on the work they were nominated for.
Over the recent decades the Turner Prize has played a significant role in provoking debate about visual art and the growing public interest in contemporary British art in particular, and has become widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe.
The prize was founded by a group called the Patrons of New Art. They were formed in 1982 to help buy new art for the Tate Gallery's collection, and to encourage wider interest in contemporary art. The Patrons wanted a name associated with great British art. They chose JMW Turner (1775–1851) partly because he had wanted to establish a prize for young artists. He also seemed appropriate because his work was controversial in his own day.
At first the prize was awarded to 'the person who, in the opinion of the jury, has made the greatest contribution to art in Britain in the previous twelve months'. This meant that critics and art administrators were eligible as well as artists.
There was no age limit at first, but in 1991 it was decided to restrict the Prize to artists under fifty, so that younger artists just setting out weren't pitted against artists at the height of their careers.
There was no limit at first, but in 1987 it was ruled that any artist nominated for two years wouldn't be eligible for the following two years. This was changed again in 1991; since then there has been no limit to the number of times an artist can be shortlisted.
In the early days there were concerns about the shortlisting process. In 1988 it was decided not to announce the shortlist publicly, and instead of an exhibition of work by shortlisted artists, the winner was offered a solo show the following year. In 1989 the jury published a list of seven 'commended' artists. The shortlist was reinstated in 1991, and restricted to three or four artists.
The first sponsor was Oliver Prenn, though he remained anonymous at the time. He was a founder member of the Patrons of New Art. The prize money was £10,000 for the first three years. He was followed in 1987 by Drexel Burnham Lambert International Inc., an American investment company. They sponsored the prize until 1989. The prize was suspended for a year in 1990 when the company went bankrupt. Channel 4 was the sponsor from 1991–2003 and the prize money was raised to £20,000. From 2004 to 2007 Gordon's sponsored the prize and the value was increased to £40,000.
These examples may also suggest possible topics for an Extended Essay.

The history of the Turner Prize

This resource is especially indicated for an art student who already has an interest in sound and technology and is looking to broaden his understanding and knowledge.

The Stuckist point of view

Critics of the prize, The Stuckists, have said the winning entry is music, not art.

What is stuckism?

Stuckism is a radical art movement founded in London in 1999 to advance new figurative painting with ideas as the most vital artistic means of addressing contemporary issues.

Stuckism is a rebuttal of the twentieth century development of Modernism, which has resulted in an increasingly fragmented, isolated, material-obsessed and stultifying academia, existing not by virtue of the work but institutional and financial power, flattered by critical acquiescence.

Stuckism regards the foundation of Modernism in art as an opportunity for vision, integrity and communication which has never been fulfilled.

The Stuckists are, therefore, opposed to the current pretensions of so-called Brit Art, Performance Art, Installation Art, Video Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Digital Art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals or beds - mainly because they are unremarkable and boring.

The name Stuckism was derived, in the best art historical tradition, from an insult, in this case from 1999 Turner Prize Nominee, Tracey Emin, to ex-boyfriend, Billy Childish: "Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck! Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!"

This was quoted in a poem by Billy Childish. Charles Thomson subsequently coined the term Stuckism and proposed joining forces to found a group. The most important ideas behind this impetus are contained in a co-written manifesto, The Stuckists.

an art group opposed to the style of modern, conceptual art often recognised by the award, said the award should not go to a "singer"

"It's just someone singing in an empty room. It's not art. It's music"

Material for CS, EE, ToK!

Sound Art and artists are an interesting topic for journal reflections, Comparative Studies, or Extended Essays. The resources on this page can also be used as a springboard for a TOK discussion on what is art (and how we decide such things), on the Stuckist point of view, or on the Turner Prize itself. More about the Turner Prize

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.