Digital sound pieces like The Listening Machine and Maelstrom raise lots of interesting questions about rights, access and commissioning. Authorship and the constituent materials of an artwork are suddenly distributed: should we be crediting the Twitter users, whose behaviours serve to organise the piece, as joint conductors? When access is no longer a geographical issue, but one of cross-platform compatibility and usability, should commissions be sought to target deprived sectors such as Flash-deficient Linux users? How can work be owned and collected when it is fundamentally immaterial? What attitude should we take to support, when a piece of work is subject to the same maintenance needs as a piece of software engineering? And should traditional artworks and organisations be uncritically diving into the digital realm, or does curatorial care need to be taken over the appropriate presentation for each kind of media?
The Third Ear Symposium (13 July 2012, South Bank Centre) seeks to address these questions, with a day-long schedule of talks on "Commissioning and Patronage in a Digital Age". Peter Gregson and I will be talking on The Listening Machine, on a panel with Matthew Herbert and The Space's Susanna Simons.
There are some great-sounding panels later in the day, with a session on "Commissioning & Collecting Sound and Performance in the Visual Arts", and the creative role of the commissioner themself.