How to talk about art is a sound installation composed of filler speech uttered by writer Sarah Thornton during a conversation with artist Grayson Perry at Tate Modern, in London, titled "What makes an Artist?". The event took place on Thursday, October 2, 2014 between six thirty and eight pm. The original conversation is available here.
How to talk about art is played in a very dimly lit room built inside an art gallery, called The Inner Sanctum. Upon entering this space-within-a-space, the visitor is given the opportunity to sit on a rug and meditate as How to talk about art plays in loop. Thornton’s speech fillers, mumbles, and stutters are diffused by a surround sound system. They are played in sequence, i.e. as they were uttered during the conversation with Perry at Tate Modern. They are not repeated or electronically manipulated. Fillers are parts of speech which are not generally recognized as purposeful or containing formal meaning, usually expressed as pauses such as "uh", "like", "you know", and "er". The audio piece operates as a mantra. It is, in effect, Sarah’s mantrah (sic). Isolated from their original source, the fillers produce an almost melodic chant that may or may not have psychological, neurological, and even spiritual effects over the listener, modulating her or his consciousness in powerful, yet unpredictable, ways. A wittgensteinian exploration of language and meaning, How to talk about art requires close listening.
How to laugh about art is a sound installation featuring Sarah Thornton’s laughs, which were isolated from "What makes an Artist?", a conversation with Grayson Perry that took place at Tate Modern, in London. The event took place on Thursday, October 2, 2014 between six thirty and eight pm. The original conversation can be heard here.
How to laugh about art is played in a very dimly lit room built inside an art gallery, called The Inner Sanctum. Upon entering this space-within-a-space, the visitor can sit on a rug and meditate, as How to laugh about art plays in loop. Diffused by hidden surround speakers, Thornton’s laughs are played in sequence. They are not repeated or electronically altered. Thornton’s irresistible, spontaneous, infectious, and contagious guffawing can produce powerful effects on the listener’s consciousness. Several studies have concluded beyond reasonable doubt that laughter can trigger positive and healthy physical changes in the body, enhancing the immune system and reducing stress. Laugher can release endorphins which in turn promote an overall sense of well-being and temporarily relieve pain. In the immersive acoustic space of The Inner Sanctum, the listener can fully experience Thornton’s genuine, liberating, exhilarating, electrifying chuckle, while developing a deeper understanding of the Artworld. This is a track of laughs. Effectively, a laugh track.
Sarah Thornton is the author of two books on art: 33 Artists in 3 Acts (Granta, 2014) and Seven Days in the Art World (Granta, 2009), both international bestsellers. Thornton was the chief writer on contemporary art for The Economist and has written about the art market and art world for several publications including The Art Newspaper, Artforum.com, The New Yorker, The Telegraph, and The Guardian. Thornton holds a B.A. in Art History and a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Culture. Her academic posts have included a full time lecturing position at the University of Sussex, and a period as Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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