To broadly respond to the question. My experience leads me to conclude that audiences are
more than willing to
forgo any visual stimulas in order to focus on the tactile and immersive qualities of a
experience. Each person brings their own history of listening to any sound work and are
therefore able to
negotiate that work predicated on those experiences. Sound after all is as personal as it
gets. It is there
all around us and we all devise strategies to psycho-acoustically mask or enhance those
depending on how we feel. Sound in the gallery space often presents an audience the
re-address their own perceptions about what is a pleasurable or meaningful sonic
experience. The kinds
of experiences we tend to ignore or forget within the din of public interaction.
Where as audiences tend to engage in an open and spontaneous manner with a sound work in
site, critics often lack the vocabulary to thoughtfully and articulately engage with these
very same works. Therefore they often give these works scant attention and quickly move on
to something that is fundamentally visual or sculptural based. It reflects the prejudices
that sound art continues to endure within the gallery space. A prejudice reflecting a
general ignorance of the methodology, history and context that these works are formed by,
and the broader discourse they are currently engaged in.
Just as drummers make the best music producers.. ie, they actually listen to the other
sound artists make the best critics of sound art. They are certainly much harder to
deceive with art world
pyrotechnics such as interactivity, immersive environments and psycho-acoustics.
However I do get the sense that there is an increasing awareness of the importance of
sound art, and that it
is only a matter of time before a broader understanding of the practise and installation
sound in the gallery will be in evidence.