Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: October 12, 2012 1:12:03 PM PDT
Artist Douglas Kahn to Present 'Conceptualism and Energy' at Western Oct. 24

Contact: Barbara Miller, Western Washington University associate professor of Art, (360) 650-3669, Barbara.Miller@wwu.edu


BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University’s Department of Art is pleased to debut its 2012-2013 Speaker Series, “Studies in Intermedia,” with a lecture by Douglas Kahn at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Miller Hall, room 138.

In “Conceptualism and Energy,” Kahn will explore the use of energies as artistic raw materials and sites of practice.  Kahn’s presentation is free and open to the public.   

Kahn’s lecture is inspired by one of the most iconic images of conceptual art — a photograph of what appears to be an empty office.  The space is not empty, but filled with radio waves of two carrier-wave pieces by Robert Barry.  The piece is often discussed as epitomizing the "de-materialization of the art object" even though Barry insisted on the materiality of the transmitted energy present.  The conceptual artist also observed that art had unnecessarily restricted itself to a tiny rainbow patch of the electromagnetic spectrum known as visible light and that possibilities were open across the entire spectrum, from low frequencies of radio to the gamma of nuclear radiation.  

Since the 1960s, numerous artists and musicians have understood energies as artistic raw material and sites of practice, a trend that has increased in the present environment of ubiquitous transmissions, energy politics and new materialisms.  In understanding these activities, an empty room is one of the first places to look.

Kahn is a professor and Australian research fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts, University of New South Wales.  He is the author of “Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts” (MIT Press, 1999) and “Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts” (UC Press, forthcoming).  Kahn, with Hannah Higgins, also served as editor of “Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of the Digital Arts” (UC Press, 2012).

For more information on the “Studies in Intermedia” series or Douglas Kahn’s lecture, please contact Western’s Department of Art at (360) 650-3660.

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