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Moments of (In)attention. On Suspended Temporality in the Works of Max Neuhaus

Tacet 04 - The Sounds of Utopia

Publication by Anne Zeitz


This research focuses on counterforms of attention and on the alternative temporalities that emerge from the works of the American artist Max Neuhaus (1939–2009). The article connects theories of attention as expressed by Jonathan Crary, Yves Citton, and Bernard Stiegler with Neuhaus’s work, in particular his Moment Pieces, on which he began work in the 1980s and which are among his last completed and permanently installed works.


Through the introduction of sounds at the outer limit of perception in urban spaces, in exhibition venues and the surrounding areas, and in parks and gardens, Neuhaus highlights the artistic and social stakes of the phenomena of attention and inattention and their connection with temporality.


Taking his works as a point of departure, this paper seeks to define a form of (in)attention—an attention located between concentration and distraction—as a perceptual state that eludes strategies targeting attention as a resource. The article proposes an analysis of the concepts of attention and temporality as interpreted by Neuhaus, who, thanks to his concepts and ideas, has exerted considerable influence on the field of sound art since the mid-twentieth century.


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Labex Arts-H2H

The Laboratory of Excellence in Arts and Human Mediations is part of the “Investments for the future” program since 2011. As part of this program, its members conduct research following three main lines: situations, technologies, hybridization.

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