Space, Time, and Memory: Examining the Disconnect between Looking at Contemporary Art and Listening to Contemporary Music

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This article considers the paradox of why lay people can appreciate modern visual art yet regard contemporary music as noise. Why do art lovers look at Picasso’s Guernica (1937), for instance, and proclaim it a masterpiece and yet when they listen to a piece like Ligeti’s Atmosphères (1961), they consider it noise? I have always been intrigued by this dichotomy. To address this question, I shall consider the spatial nature of painting versus the temporal quality of music, modes of visual and aural perception (and how they influence the aesthetic attitudes of viewers and listeners), and Gestalt theory. The goal of this article is not to arrive at a dispositive answer to the question I have asked but to pose possible responses that can form the basis for further inquiry and research.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 18/08/2021

Jeffrey Izzo

Jeffrey Izzo is Assistant Professor and Mike Curb Endowed Chair of Music Industry Studies at California State University, Northridge. He is a contributing author to Music Entrepreneurship and co-author of Introduction to the Music Industry: West Coast Edition. He has also presented his research at national and international academic conferences.  

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