Shakespeare as Sound Artist

Authored by: Bruce R. Smith

The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138780613
eBook ISBN: 9781315770567
Adobe ISBN: 9781317672777


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Was William Shakespeare a sound artist? A lexicographer would say no, and so would a chronologist. At the time of this writing (December 2014) “sound art” was still too new to make the Oxford English Dictionary, even as a compound phrase under “sound,” even in the most recent updating of the compounds in 2007. Most accounts of sound art date the phenomenon to the 1960s and 1970s or, at the absolute earliest, to Luigi Russolo’s manifesto L’Arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises) published in 1913. Alan Licht traces the origin of the term itself to a 1983 exhibition called Sound/Art at the Sculpture Center in New York organized by William Hellermann’s recently founded SoundArt Foundation (Licht 2009: 3). So Shakespeare cannot be, cannot have been, a sound artist.

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