Critical Forest

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This EP is the result of some ideas about sculpture and art criticism that I became interested in while in coursework as a Ph.D. student. The EP takes its title from a book by Johann Gottfried von Herder called Critical Forests. One of Herder's central claims in this book is that the different arts can be distinguished according to the different sense organs and a particular work of art can be judged as good or bad to the extent that it is able to engage and excite its proper organ. 

Thus, a painting is good or bad to the extent that it engages and excites the eyes; music is good or bad to the extent that it engages the ears; and sculpture is good or bad to the extent that it engages our sense of touch. 

Of course, Herder was well aware that the way we *actually* appreciate art raised problems for his account, especially in the case of sculpture. While we do look at paintings and listen to music, we do not actually touch sculpture. We look at it. Must we conclude, then, that sculpture can never be properly judged without repealing or transgressing the museum rules? 

Herder thought not. This is because, he argued, we can visually appreciate tactile qualities. Over our years of living, we have learned to associate the way things feel with the way they look. We learn that when something feels smooth, it reflects light in a certain smooth way; when something is rough, it reflects light in a kind of jagged way; etc. 

The consequence of this is that we can appreciate the way something *feels* simply by looking at it. We do not need to touch the brick to know it is rough, we can *see* its roughness. For Herder this was good news as it allowed him to happily maintain his division of the arts according to the senses without inviting the ire of museum guards everywhere. 

So much for Herder. 

My primary interest in Herder's theory is its suggestion that, in general, a sense organ can (in a way) sense properties that are properly perceived by another sense. 

On the basis of this, I wondered whether it would be possible to make a piece of sound that functioned more like a piece of sculpture than a piece of music. Rather than making sounds that evoked properties typically associated with music such as melody, rhythm, harmony, I aimed at makings sounds that evoked more tactile sensations. 

In this regard, what I have produced certainly fails. It goes some way to provoking a tactile experience but it is far too musical. There is melody and even rhythm. To some extent, I have tried to use this to my advantage. When melody popped up, I tried to cut it short, replacing it with grating sounds more tactile than musical. But I was only able to take this so far. This is therefore failed experimental music.

released April 10, 2014