Working with Sound is gaining importance in the context of contemporary fine art. Through specialized events, the significance of sonic art has increased enormously in the past two decades, and has become an integral part of renowned international festivals. Since more than a decade ago, Sound has been increasingly establishing itself internationally and within the European sphere as an artistic core medium in its own right, and as a transdisciplinary field of research, and has taken on a decisive position in the area of complementary media. The direct forebears of today's auditory art can be traced back to the beginnings of the 20th century. In the 1950ies, sound sculpture came into being, and in the 1960ies the first essential concepts of sound installation emerged.
In 2000, the scientific-creative discipline of Sound was established as a subject at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The implementation of the Sound Laboratory between 2006 and 2008 served to create a central local identity for this highly specialized field, which was subsequently extended to form a modern open platform for artistic research transcending the boundaries of single disciplines and media and closely linked to the communication of such knowledge. The equipment provided enables participants to experiment and work professionally in both analog and digital fields. The technical infrastructure of the Sound Laboratory comprises several multifunctional units and facilities: work station - lounge - rehearsal room - Sound Laboratory.
Using artistic and scientific methods, students will investigate and examine - with a view to the spawning, practicing, spreading and receiving cultures - the dimension of Sound from a wide variety of perspectives.
The horizon addressed here comprises the area of everyday culture ranging from culturally different listening habits, issues pertaining to the audio space, the contingency of sound creation, the acoustic quality of architecture, the public space, the interaction of sound and image, the sonic body, the acoustic environment, and manipulative sound exposure, to identity policies and the possibilities and limitations of acoustic perception, or how to deal with so-called non-sound.
The current course program Sound, with its topic-specific lectures, guest lectures and workshops, focuses on a variety of aspects and desiderata of contemporary Sound art. Its diverse panorama comprises artistic works and forms of expression: sound installation, sound sculpture, sonic art, DIY engineering, sound performance, electronic music, pop and club culture, field recording, sound system culture; artistic and creative approaches: sound design, auditory media design, acoustic communication, sound processing, sound architecture, sonification, transmitting cultures; also, the theory of cultural, musical, natural, social, media, communication and architectural sciences, ecological, ethnographic and historical-anthropological approaches; curatorial practices, and technological and artistic research.
The intention here is to promote critical and unrestricted artistic work, and to encourage students to develop their own individual style. After all, the synergies evolving between students and lecturers and the ensuing scenes, which are linked to the Academy in many ways, are of great significance.
Current research carried out by the lecturers is focusing on the design of acoustic space and media in the digital era: 3-D Audio Architecture, Sound Spatialization, Interactive; development and implementation of prototypical sound technologies in installation and performance contexts; sound studies on sound cultures in post-Soviet countries. External teaching focuses on the technical principles of Sound.
The Sound Laboratory has always been in permanent dialog, in cooperation and knowledge exchange with the central and most influential representatives, experts, students and institutions in the field of sound-based art, theory and research worldwide. Thus, the Laboratory was able to gain its renown on an international level as well as essential resources for its teaching and research. Research findings and processes are continuously presented in a variety of forms and formats: symposia, curated events, artistic works and presentations, radio features, and articles in various academic magazines/journals relating to sound, art, music or similar aspects. This network has significantly contributed to establishing Sound as a core medium in its own right, and to introduce it to international discourse.