Site of Sound Volume 2 follows a decade after the first volume, a period in time that has seen an increase in the activity of artists working with both sound and architecture. As LaBelle points out in the preface, the decade has also seen more discussion about the idea of the public and of artists interacting more with that public. As such, the current book moves between sound artists interested in working within architecture and sound artists who are trying to interact with the idea of public space—the space often outside the architecture, but still confined by the lived experience of the city.
The book consists prominently of writings by sound artists themselves. This can be both engaging and frustrating for the generalist. Justin Bennett’s stream of consciousness diary carries a lovely weight of experience, David Schaffer describes his sculptures in a clever way, and Scott Arford and Randy Yau talk quite lucidly about their quest to make the buildings they perform in resonate in particular ways. Others, however, are a little less eloquent about their work and a couple of artists’ texts read like lists of materials.
While the variety of voices allows the reader to discover brand new ideas in unexpected places, it would have been helpful to have at least one overview essay beyond the preface and that would draw a through-line between the various artists and the work they are doing. The book presents a fascinating cross-section of artists working between sound and architecture, and it serves well as a reference text to those that are committed to this field, but it is a difficult read for those who have picked up the book for curiosity’s sake.