Is “New Music” Contemporary Art?

Nolan, Ryan ORCID logoORCID: (2019) Is “New Music” Contemporary Art? In: Biennial Conference of the Royal Musical Association's Music and Philosophy Study Group, 11-12 July, 2019, King's College London.

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Abstract / Summary

Postconceptual art is what the philosopher Peter Osborne claims to be the most reasonable classification when one attempts to grasp “contemporary art’s” critical-conceptuality from “the dual standpoint of a historico-philosophical conception of contemporaneity and a rereading of the history of twentieth-century art” (Osborne 2014). It is an historically determined condition that stands in opposition to “aesthetics” in any standard philosophical (and consequently, art historical) sense of the term. The postconceptual art project can be read as a counterfactual theory that aims to describe an alternative to the received historical progression from “modern, postmodern, contemporary” to critically register the historical impact of the anti-aesthetic practices of the 1960s and 70s. Instead, Osborne proposes a progression that reads “modernist formalism, conceptual art, postconceptual art”. A recent criticism levelled at Osborne’s proposition comes from the musical field, no less, with one commenter announcing that music seems to sit outside of this generic notion of contemporary art. Indeed, if we accept Osborne’s theory, the question of music (or any specific aesthetic medium) does become problematic. So much so, it begs one to ask whether or not music can ever be considered contemporary under these terms; and if it can, would it still be called music? In this talk, I will argue that “music” can indeed be thought of as both a critical and medium-specific category that operates within the discourse of contemporary art. To do this, I will suggest that new conception of medium-specificity must be theorised, which steps away from Greenbergian formalism, under the rubric of a Marxist materialist aesthetics. To finish the talk, I will begin to make an argument for the relevance of music, as a culturally and artistically specific medium, for the cultural production of historical contemporaneity more broadly, suggesting perhaps that music is the art of contemporaneity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Music
Philosophy & Psychology
Social Sciences
Courses by Department: Academy of Music & Theatre Arts > Music
Depositing User: Ryan Nolan
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 15:58
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:20


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