Semiotics, Presence and the Sublime in the Work of Alvin Lucier

Justin Yang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Alvin Lucier, in his uncompromising exploration into the artistic potential of acoustic phenomena, has developed a body of work that remains highly original and hugely influential across many disciplines. His seminal works such as I am sitting in a room and Music for Solo Performer foreshadowed ways of approaching sound that are in common use among electro-acoustic composers, installation artists, as well as in commercial products. Lucier, despite his far reaching influence, is and has always been a composer, and his explorations of acoustics have been singularly focused on the development of a rich body of music. In this article, I investigate Lucier’s unique approach and attitude towards acoustics and aspire to enumerate important aesthetic developments he has made in creating music through the exploration of acoustic phenomena. In particular, this article seeks to investigate the role of semiotics in Lucier’s work, commenting on the pre-linguistic nature of Lucier’s approach to acoustic phenomenon. Here as well, an exploration of Lucier’s musical materials takes place, focusing on his instrumental compositions, specifically Diamonds for One, Two or Three Orchestras, where instruments are used as catalysts to generate in real-time acoustic phenomenon which interact to produce a rich yet intimate world of sound. Finally, Lucier’s approach to semiotics and real-time generation of music is viewed through a sublime aesthetic provoking questions regarding issues of presence and the now.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalLeonardo Music Journal
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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