Andrew Cappetta, PhD candidate at The City University of New York, is a speaker at Regenerative Feedback, a three day music, new media, sound art and philosophy symposium organised by Sonia de Jager at WORM (24-26 May 2019).
Regenerative Feedback presents experimental performances and new media art and to explores these through workshops, accessible lectures and conversations between experts and audiences.
The event aims to investigate interdisciplinary methods to generate sustainable social futures through the lens of music and new media, and hopes to motivate spectators in new emancipatory directions: if we can understand what it is that attracts us to music, what drives us, in fact, to listen closely to one another; then there’s a chance for this vision to be innovatively applied in other areas.
Regenerative Feedback is thus both media conference and intellectual gathering, and tries to build bridges between the two, with room for extensive Q&A sessions to promote active spectatorship.
Andrew Cappetta is a doctoral candidate in the department of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His primary research interest is the intersection between post-WWII/contemporary art and music. His forthcoming dissertation, “Pop/Art: The British Art School and the Birth of Underground Music, 1960-1980,” traces the connections between pedagogical changes in British art schools in the late 1950s/early 1960s to the development of underground music. He is an educator at Parsons, The New School for Design, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail.
In musical perception there is no correct way of listening, as there is no correct way of producing “creative sound.” The understanding of any given piece of music depends merely on the capacities of the hearing parties and their willingness to listen. Moreover, different musical materials touch upon different abilities to discern meaning: beats, screams, melodies and noise all appeal to different types of subjectivities and somatic constraints. One does not need to have even the most basic knowledge of musical concepts in order to listen with understanding. Music happens, brains process and predict: predict and process. Sometimes one hears, sometimes one listens. The medium that is sound escapes rigorous scrutiny in that it cannot be grasped. As artist Jules Gimbrone has argued: “Sound is the most queer medium in the sense that it is both physical and uncontainable and doesn’t have the bounds that other forms do.” Sound does not conform to a structure which humans can delineate, confine or define. What one person takes away from a musical piece may completely slide off another as total nonsense. What makes one body thrive and feel empowered may make another shiver and coil up. Among other things, these are the main lines that will be drawn upon by the speakers of the final evening of Regenerative Feedback.
The themes and presentations of this evening rehash utopian aspirations to learn how to think, hear and listen anew. We cannot ignore the urgency to take action in light of the global sociopolitical vacuity. The devastating and nearly irreversible results of the celebration of ignorance in the face of disaster urge a rethinking of future desires and actual capacities. The challenge was always thought to be outside, but the real problem could not lie any closer to the very logic of our existence. In honor of Mark Fisher’s legacy, Regenerative Feedback organizes thought around the light at the end of the tunnel (which is hopefully not an incoming train, as infamously noted by Slavoj Žižek), around the desperate, passionate, sarcastic, absurd, last-resort that is the blind belief in change for the better. Taking advantage of the spectacle-ethos of contemporary culture, constant spectatorship — or auditorship — offers a chance for at least a few Trojan horses.