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ART - Fonseca

Pubblicato: Mercoledì 26 aprile 2023 da Alessandro Giovanni Bertinetto

ART (Aesthetics Research Torino) Philosophical Seminar 


Nuno Fonseca

(IFILNOVA, NOVA University Lisbon)




May, 10. h 6 pm




Music in the art gallery or music turning up as (sound) art

“Music has traditionally been understood as the art of sounds, just as painting has been considered the art of colours (on a surface) or sculpture, the art of materials and volumes. But in the recent decades, visual artists, sculptors, architects, poets, performers and different kinds of conceptual and multimedia artists seem to have co-opted sounds as a medium, since they have been practicing and presenting in art venues what has been named “sound art”, a set of diversified practices, works or performances that use sound, that areabout sound, but that are not considered “music” in the conventional sense. And although the term – “sound art” - is rather vague and contentious –seldom embraced by the artists themselves –, curators, art critics and gallery owners have often clung to it as a way to promote artists and practices where sound is used as a medium or its semantic content. Subsequently, attempts have been made to distinguish “music” from “sound art”: because of their different nature, considering that music would camp on the temporal arts (Zeitkünste) while sound art would camp on the spatial ones (Raumkünste); or because of focusing on different objects, music being the art of tones (Tonkunst) and sound art, the art of sounds-in-themselves. However, the quick realization that time is essential to the ontology of sound and temporal flux to the ontology of sound artworks (Cox) or the existence of several (counter-)examples of a “non-cochlear sound art” (Kim-Cohen) would end up offering easy rebuttals. And, of course, anyone slightly familiar with the evolution of modern art knows that a manifold of synesthetic correspondences and experimental crossovers between music and the different arts had already put disciplinary boundaries into question, at least since the early twentieth-century avant-gardes (Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, etc), a fact that undermines those theoretical efforts or at least blurs the distinctions. To complicate the issue to a second order of difficulties, some contemporary artists (with arguably some well-known forerunners, like Duchamp, Yves Klein, La Monte Young or Nam June Paik) have recently brought music – in the traditional sense of organised sound in time – to the art gallery. Not merely with the purpose of using the gallery as a different venue or a different audience for the typical execution of a composition, but instead using music simply as another time-based medium – the same way as artists resort to film, dance or performance nowadays – or music as a cultural reference to express their creative ideas. The focus would therefore no longer be in the execution of purely musical ideas but in plastically or conceptually exploring music as a medium, an environment or a cultural (social and political) phenomenon. In other words: music becomes the medium and sometimes “the content of contemporary art” (Kelly). Considering this new trend in contemporary art will be a good opportunity to address the conceptual challenges of talking about “music as (sound) art”, while discussing the possible (dis)similarities between (different definitions of) music, non-musical sound art, music about (or inspired by) art and art about music – distinctions that will inevitably disclose some grey areas but that may also bring some light on contemporary philosophical issues concerning sound and music.

Nuno Fonseca is currently an integrated researcher at the NOVA Institute of Philosophy (Ifilnova) and, within Culturelab, he coordinates the research group “Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art”. His main research focus is on Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art (aesthetic experience and values), both in the context of sound art and urban experience. In parallel, he continues his research on the Port-Royal Logic, being the author of its first Portuguese translation and edition, published by Fundação Calouse Gulbenkian in 2016. At NOVA University Lisbon, he has taught “Rhetoric and Argumentation”, the seminar “Art and Experience”, several short courses on the Philosophy of Sound Art and Music, and since 2021 he co-teaches a course on Urban Aesthetics. Graduated in Law (1998) and in Philosophy (2004) from the University of Coimbra, he completed his PhD in Philosophy (Epistemology and Theory of Knowledge) at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of NOVA University of Lisbon in 2012, working on issues of representation and perception. Since the 1990s, involved in experiments with the sound medium, namely through the realization of radio programs at Rádio Universidade de Coimbra and more recently at the portuguese national broadcast radio station, Antena 2 (Ruas de Sentido Único [2019/2022] and Cóclea – O Labirinto da Escuta [2022]), he has also made some incursions in the sound design of theatre and performance shows. Among several national and international publications, he has co-edited Morphology: Methods and Language (2013), Conceptual Figures of Fragmentation and Reconfiguration (2021) and is preparing a colective volume with Routledge, Rethinking the City: Reconfiguration and Fragmentation (forthcoming in 2024).


ART (Aesthetics Research Torino) is a periodic philosophical seminar organized by the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences of the University of Turin and the PhD Program FINO.



Prof. Alessandro Bertinetto (University of Turin). 

Prof. Federico Vercellone (University of Turin). 



Prof. Carlo Serra (University of Turin/University of Calabria)

Prof.ssa Serena Feloj (University of Pavia)

Dr. Alberto Martinengo (University of Turin)

Dr. Paolo Furia (University of Turin)

Dr. Lisa Giombini (University Rome 3)

Dr. Gregorio Tenti (University of Turin)

Dr. Amalia Salvestrini (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi FIlosofici, Naples)

Dr. Francesca Monateri (Pisa, Scuola Normale)

Dr. Francesca Perotto (FINO)

Dr. Ivan Quartesan (FINO)

Dr. Sofia Boz (University of Padova)

Dr. Leonardo Pietropaolo (University of Turin)

Dr. Luisa Sampugnaro (University of Turin)

Dr. Nicola Davide Angerame (Turin)


ART addresses different topics of the contemporary debate in Aesthetics: philosophy of beauty, philosophy of the arts, theory of sensory experience, philosophy of image and imagination, and history of aesthetics.


ART is supported by:

Centro Interuniversitario di Ricerca sulla Morfologia Francesco Moiso (CIM)
Centro Studi Arti della Modernità

Centro Studi Filosofico-religiosi "Luigi Pareyson"

ART is sponsored by: 

Italian Society for Aesthetics (SIE) 
European Society for Aesthetics (ESA)

Ultimo aggiornamento: 26/04/2023 22:03

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