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Ad-Hoc Aesthetics: Context-dependent composition strategies in music and sound art

  • Marinos Koutsomichalis (a1)


Contemporary trains of thought largely denounce hylomorphism and a series of dichotomies of the past in favour of rather hybrid, all-inclusive and non-anthropocentric schemata. Yet, the former seem to still pervade our understanding of music and sound art in several respects. For many, composition is a primarily abstract process, musical instruments and audio-related technologies are fixed material means, and artists are creative individuals who are solely and primarily responsible for the artworks they produce. In this article a series of ad hoc and context-dependent compositional traits are scrutinised, with reference to theory as well as to actual artistic practice (both historical and contemporary), and are shown to transcend such assumptions in more or less straightforward ways. In particular, a series of practices is examined that revolves around material inquiry, anti-optimality, and hybrid, reflexive or ‘meta’ interfaces. More, DIWO (Do It With Others) approaches to composition are discussed and shown to echo adhocracy and contextual dependency in various respects and by means of emergent autopoiesis. Certain slants to DIWO are finally examined with respect to a series of powerful (in the author’s opinion) metaphors, namely emergence, transience and post-selfhood.


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