Secret Noise: Marcel Duchamp and the (un)sound object

Fijalkowski, Krzysztof (2020) Secret Noise: Marcel Duchamp and the (un)sound object. Journal of Sonic Studies. ISSN 2212-6252


Marcel Duchamp’s enigmatic sculpture With Hidden Noise (1916) is widely known, but its complex relationship to sound has received limited attention. Containing a secret object whose presence and identity is registered only by the noise it makes inside a ball of twine held between metal plates, this performative aspect of the work remains unavailable for contemporary audiences; as such, it participates in what Christof Migone qualifies as the ‘unsound’, the latent aural registers of silence or suppressed noise. Considering the secrecy and sonic capabilities of this object, as well as the work’s collaborative contexts alongside the repeated interest in sound found elsewhere in Duchamp’s activity, gives access to reading With Hidden Noise as a proposition about hidden or embodied knowledge, a knowledge whose complex and hybrid nature is specifically registered through the promise of a performance of sound that remains tacit but resonant.

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