Resonant Matter: Sound, Art, and the Promise of Hospitality

resonant matter
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In Resonant Matter, Lutz Koepnick considers contemporary sound and installation art as a unique laboratory of hospitality amid inhospitable times. Inspired by Ragnar Kjartansson’s nine-channel video installation The Visitors (2012), the book explores resonance-the ability of objects to be affected by the vibrations of other objects-as a model of art’s fleeting promise to make us coexist with things strange and other. In a series of nuanced readings, Koepnick follows the echoes of distant, unexpected, and unheard sounds in twenty-first century art to reflect on the attachments we pursue to sustain our lives and the walls we need to tear down to secure possible futures.

The book’s nine chapters approach The Visitors from ever-different conceptual angles while bringing it into dialogue with the work of other artists and musicians such as Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Guillermo Galindo, Mischa Kuball, Philipp Lachenmann, Alvien Lucier, Teresa Margolles, Carsten Nicolai, Camille Norment, Susan Philipsz, David Rothenberg, Juliana Snapper, and Tanya Tagaq. With this book, Koepnick situates resonance as a vital concept of contemporary art criticism and sound studies. His analysis encourages us not only to expand our understanding of the role of sound in art, of sound art, but to attune our critical encounter with art to art’s own resonant thinking.

“The open, explorative premise of Resonant Matter itself resonates through our turbulent times, suggesting sound to assist us in our struggle to dynamically attune to an ”inhospitable” environment. Koepnick listens closely to a single artwork, then amplifies an extended contextual framework that responds with the ear and agency of a great and skilled improvisation.”   

Camille Norment, multi-media artist, musician, composer

“Koepnick wrote one of the best introductions to sound art I could think of: by exploring one single artwork he guides us into the corpus of contemporary discourses and aesthetic strategies in sound art-returning, again and again, to the one major unresolved matter of sound art theory that many researchers are still struggling with: how is it possible that a sound artwork succeeds not only in touching the lives of its audiences but in moving its listeners to unexpected tears? Koepnick’s book brings us a crucial step closer in understanding why.” 

Holger Schulze, Professor in Musicology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and author of The Sonic Persona

“Koepnick has written an excellent book that explores the rarely addressed topic of resonance in contemporary sound art. He offers many new insights and captures the complexity and politics of sound art for a wide range of scholars and students of art, art history, music, aesthetics, performance, and theatre studies. As he has done in many of his previous publications, Koepnick once again helps us to think more clearly about the collaborative dimensions and the materiality of art today.”

Lilian Haberer, Materiality in Art History, Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany

Bloomsbury, January  2021
$ 29.95 paper ISBN 9781501343674
$ 99.00 cloth   ISBN 9781501343377
256 pages

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