Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier is the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, at Wesleyan University, where he has taught since 1970. Lucier has pioneered many areas of music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes. His recent works include a series of sound installations and compositions in which close tunings with pure tones cause sound waves to spin through space.

As part of the CAST symposium, “SEEING / SOUNDING / SENSING,” Alvin Lucier performs his iconic piece I am sitting in a room.

Lucier’s work is central to the discussion of resonance in the “Sounding” panel of the CAST Symposium. Metaphorically, in English we “sound out” an idea, a person or a vessel – sonic explorations of subjectivity or tests of worth. That “resonance” has extensive cultural and cognitive significance. How do we know what we hear? How do we know what is inside our heads and what is outside? Following on the previous day’s session on color, which asked about the relation between the subjective, objective, mathematical and intersubjective apprehension of color, this session asks about the quality of sound as experience. What is the relation between auditory perception and hallucination? What are the boundaries of hearing? Why does it matter, and to whom? Engaging music and noise, artists and live musicians, installations and recordings, computation and human sensory capacities, acousmata and precise directional signals, this session will explore the ethical and aesthetic components of sound, and why “noise” of many kinds is so central to scientific exploration and the human arts.

Lucier performs, lectures and exhibits his sound installations extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. His book, Chambers, written in collaboration with Douglas Simon, was published by the Wesleyan University Press. In addition, several of his works are available on Cramps (Italy), Disques Montaigne, Source, Mainstream, CBS Odyssey, Nonesuch and Lovely Music Records.

Learn more about Alvin Lucier.

Read about the other CAST Symposium Participants