EVENT (conference session): Permeable Boundaries. Music and the Visual Arts

38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair
The Open University, Milton Keynes
29 – 31 March 2012

‘Permeable Boundaries: Music and the Visual Arts’

Session Convenors:

Tim Shephard, University of Nottingham, Tim.Shephard@nottingham.ac.uk

Diane Silverthorne, Birkbeck College, University of London, d.silverthorne@bbk.ac.uk

Artists have been inspired by music as metaphor, object, subject and practice throughout history. Music can supply an attribute for a portrait, a symbol for an allegory, or a suitable subject for the practice of perspective. Since the Renaissance at least, and in particular since the nineteenth century, the audible experience of music and sound has been drawn into the aesthetics of the visual arts. Issues of medium specificity, medium impurity and the formal concerns of music have featured prominently in modernist discourse. From the subjects of painting to the live engagement of performance and the ephemera of the recording industry, music is inescapably ingrained in visual experience. Musical performance always entails the manipulation of the visual world, and a multi-sensory experience for the audience. In what ways do the ideas and practices of music and the visual arts converge? What critical approaches should be used in the investigation of musical concerns in the visual arts, and visual concerns in music? What aesthetic and historical perspectives are illuminated or occluded by terms such as synthesis, multi-disciplinary and hybridity? How we respond to such questions is useful in furthering our understanding of both disciplines, and the permeable boundaries between the two. The fruitful interaction between music and the visual arts is an expanding area of research, but work is inevitably dispersed across several disciplines. This session aims to bring together scholars interested in the engagement of music and the visual arts, and the critical language required for the examination of such issues, in all periods.