Media art historian and theorist Douglas Kahn will discuss ideas from his forthcoming book Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts and present a new analysis of one of the most iconic images of conceptual art: the photograph of a seemingly empty room documenting Robert Barry's installation of his carrier-wave pieces. Barry observed that art had unnecessarily restricted itself to a tiny rainbow patch of the electromagnetic spectrum known as visible light, and that other possibilities were open across the entire spectrum, from radio to gamma. Artists and musicians at the time and since have done just that.
Kahn is known for his writings on experimental arts and music and the use of sound in the avant-garde. He is a professor of media and innovation as well as an Australian Research Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts at the University of New South Wales. He was the founding director of Technocultural Studies and is Professor Emeritus in Science and Technology Studies at the University of California, Davis. He is the editor, with Hannah Higgins, of the upcoming Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of the Digital Arts (University of California Press, 2012). He is the author of Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999), and editor, with Larry Austin, of Source: Music of the Avant-garde, 1966–1973 (University of California Press, 2011). Kahn was a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. He received an MFA in post-studio arts from CalArts, an MA in experimental music composition from Wesleyan University, and a PhD in art history from the University of Western Sydney.