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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Kingston University
Penrhyn Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 2EE

Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 9000


Date:06 March 2004, 10:00am to
06 March 2004, 6:00pm
Location:Middlesex University, White Hart Lane, London N17 8HR


  • David Cunningham (University of Westminster)
  • Steve Goodman (Ccru & University of East London)
  • Paul Hegarty (University College, Cork)
  • Julius Nil (London Consortium)
  • Wesley Phillips (Middlesex)
  • Aled Rees (Middlesex University)
  • Nick Smith (University of New Hampshire)


Noise is an unprecedented harbinger of aesthetic radicality: no-one yet knows what it is or what it means. This non-significance is its strength rather than its weakness. Noise is ‘non-music’ not because it negates music but because it affirms a previously unimaginable continuum of sonic intensities in which music becomes incorporated as a mere material.


  1. Noise is an unmapped continent in comparison with which everything we recognize as music remains a parochial backwater. We invite participants to participate in this provisional mapping.
  2. Unlike almost every other form of contemporary artistic endeavour, noise—at least for the time being—refuses to be integrated into the institutionalised modalities of aesthetic appreciation. But noise by no means constitutes an autarchic fandom: it pulverizes the resources of cultural and aesthetic categorisation by diagonalizing the opposition between ‘elitist’ classical modernism and mass-market pop culture. With noise, commodification intensifies virulence: the fact that there are now as many Merzbow as Beatles CDs in the racks of the London chain-stores is more than just a symptom of ‘recuperation’ and an affront to all norms of aesthetic decorum.
  3. We want people to engage with this virulent anti-aestheticism. Where a ‘new aestheticism’ might present itself as a resistance to pragmatic instrumentality, postmodern academicism continues to adopt theory as ballast: works are mere pretexts for ostentatious displays of theoretical chic. But in what way could noise change the conditions of theoretical possibility, not to say intelligibility or even sensibility?
  4. Refusing the dualism of ‘theory’ as cultural form and ‘noise’ as sensible matter, we invite interventions that put theory and noise on the same immanent level so that noise is allowed to override theory as it tries to grasp the non-significance of the former. Instead of remaining an inert cultural artefact, the material intensities unleashed by noise should be allowed to reconfigure the parameters of theoretical possibility and catalyse new modes of engagement between thought and sound. The point is to usurp the dualism of ‘Theory’ and ‘Noise’ by means of the immanent continuum ‘noisetheorynoise’.


David Cunningham (University of Westminster)
Goodbye 20th Century: Noise, Modernism, Aesthetics

Steve Goodman (Ccru & University of East London)
Turbulence: The Art of War in the Art of Noise

Paul Hegarty (University College, Cork)
Voice as Noise

Julius Nil (London Consortium)
Scrabbling at the Lock: Accepting Failure in Lachenmann, Autechre and Resplendent (among others)

Wesley Phillips (Middlesex University )
On Incomprehensibility and Music

Aled Rees (Middlesex University )
Location and Forces: Sound, Noise, and Human Reality

Nick Smith (University of New Hampshire)
Why Hardcore Goes Soft: Adorno, Japanese Noise and the Extirpation of Dissonance

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Kingston University
Penrhyn Road
Kingston upon Thames

Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 2853

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