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Gallery sound

Gallery sound

Kelly, Caleb, 1972- author

Sound is an integral part of contemporary art. Once understood to be a marginal practice, increasingly we encounter sound in art exhibitions through an array of sound making works in various art forms, at times played to very high audio levels. However, works of art are far from the only thing one might hear: music performances, floor talks, exhibition openings and the noisy background sounds that emanate from the gallery cafe fill contemporary exhibition environments

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017
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Available: Newton Park

  • Newton Park – One available in Main Collection 709.04074/KEL

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    00345174 Main Collection 709.04074/KEL Standard Available


Statement of responsibility: Caleb Kelly
ISBN: 1501304364, 9781501304361
Intended audience: Specialized.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 192 pages : illustrations (black and white)
Subject: Sound installations (Art); Sound in art.; Art and Design.; Art museums.


  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Introduction
  3. a. Listening to Visual Art
  4. b. A Sound Context
  5. 1. The Empty Sounding Gallery
  6. a. Silence and the Void
  7. b. Silence
  8. c. Sense of Sensing: Robert Irwin and James Turrell
  9. d. Unified Sensory Situation: Michael Asher
  10. e. Rendered Acoustical: Bruce Nauman
  11. f. Eternal Music: La Monte Young
  12. g. Echoing Resonance: Alvin Lucier
  13. 2. Noises in the Gallery
  14. a. The New Loud Art Museum
  15. b. Intervention and Interference: Marco Fusinato
  16. c. Condoned Noise
  17. d. Social Sounds
  18. e. Walking and listening
  19. 3. Musical Galleries
  20. a. Anti-Illusion: Steve Reich and Philip Glass
  21. b. Off Site and Experimental and Improvised
  22. c. Music as Art
  23. Endnotes
  24. Bibliography
  25. Index

Author note

Caleb Kelly is an academic and curator engaged in sound as it relates to art and music. He is the author of Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction, and the editor of Sound. Kelly is a curator and a senior academic at UNSW Art & Design, Australia.


Caleb Kelly's Gallery Sound challenges the term 'sound art' by turning an ear toward the gallery itself as a site for (and of) sonic investigation. Kelly reminds us that galleries are rich with sound and that a full experiential encounter with artworks demands listening alongside looking. Lucidly written, Gallery Sound considers artworks that treat the sound of the gallery as a fundamental condition, as a container for noise, and as a site where music becomes a medium to be explored and exhibited.
Brian Kane, Associate Professor of Music, Yale University, USA||Gallery Sound responds to keen growing interest in sound in contemporary art. It inverts focus on sound art by showing how audio has been a latent force in the art gallery for at least half a century, and that the gallery can indeed be musical. Sound for Caleb Kelly is not simply a material or a medium but a phenomenon. The myth of the white cube space parallels the impossibility of silence as Kelly moves with alacrity through John Cage and Janet Cardiff, from Akio Suzuki via Bruce Nauman to Marina Rosenfeld.
Atau Tanaka, Professor of Media Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK||Caleb Kelly has written a richly rewarding critical genealogy of sound in the art gallery. His book is at once authoritative and invigorating in its range and the buzzing excitement of its analyses. With Gallery Sound, he has secured his place as one of the leading commentators on the sonic arts.
Steven Connor, Grace 2 Professor of English, University of Cambridge, UK