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spectatorship is not neutral




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Tuesday, 23 April 2024 to Friday, 3 May 2024

spectatorship is not neutral presents new and recent installation works for concert halls by Colin Tucker. The installation focuses on marking the politics of often unmarked defaults of spectatorial concert (“classical”) music, particularly those of silent, seated, focal listening, and of organizing musical practice around closed, immaterial works. 

Grounded in methods of Black and Indigenous studies, the installation investigates how the concert hall’s central subject-position, the Spectator, is always already relational, and specifically how the Spectator’s sensory capacity depends axiomatically upon the displacement of the exteriority of sensation onto racially-marked figures of sensory incapacity. The featured works map how seemingly routine protocols of concert music are not easily separable from protocols of empire, as a necessary step towards a politicized dismantling of concert music. As the artist is read as white, the installation deliberately limits the scope of its critical inquiry to white positionality (and whiteness’s (re)production in and through concert music), while prioritizing methods of interrogating whiteness learned from Indigenous and Black studies.

Featuring works for print, images, audio, projection, piano, and more, the program features installations throughout the CMC’s Chalmers House space, as well as related performances and a live-streamed artist talk.

Curator :


Artist ( Description ): 

Colin Tucker is an artist and curator who investigates intersections between experimental music, contemporary art, anti-racism, and anti-colonialism. As an artist, Colin makes critical investigations of sensory politics in the concert hall, and of (settler) colonial grammars of territorial possession, through scores/instructions, videos, installations, and artist books. Colin’s works have been presented at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Eastman School of Music, Issue Project Room, June in Buffalo, Kleinhans Music Hall (Buffalo Philharmonic), MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, New England Conservatory, Slingshot Festival, and Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics—Stanford University, performed by the symphony orchestras of Detroit and Ann Arbor, ensembles dal niente, East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE), ELISION, Linea, S.E.M., soundinitiative, Surplus, and Uusinta, and recognized by grants and awards from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), and the University at Buffalo (Presidential Fellowship & Dissertation Fellowship).

Colin holds degrees in music composition from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) (PhD), University of Huddersfield (MPhil) and the University of Michigan (BM, summa cum laude), and also works as founding artistic director of Null Point, an artist-run initiative focused on interchanges between music and contemporary art. For more information:

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Public Programs


Spectatorship has Never Been Neutral 

Artist Talk (live-streamed online)

Thursday, April 25, 7pm Eastern Time

This talk, based on Tucker’s book-in-progress on the politics of concert music spectatorship, traces how the racializing mechanisms have been intrinsic to spectatorial concert music since its inception, as a way to open up a politicized dismantling of concert music and spectatorial infrastructures. The talk considers the historical emergence of concert music around 1800, reading canonical writings on spectatorship by Immanuel Kant and WH Wackenroder through the analytics of Black study scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva. This reading then provides an interpretive context for a multidisciplinary consideration of the racializing work of routine spectatorial protocols (i.e. silent, immobile, single-sense aural perception; the packaging of musical practice in fixed, knowable, reproducible Works, etc.).


Sensation is Not Neutral

participatory performance for spectators with objects, images, audio, piano, print, textiles, and chairs in a concert hall

Thursday, April 25, 8pm

This program features a variety of ways of marking the politics of often unmarked defaults of concert music, such as listening protocols, aesthetic discourse, and physical infrastructures (e.g. chairs, printed programs). Taking as axiomatic that Western modernity treats sensory (in)capacity as an alibi for necro-biopolitical distinctions, the featured pieces position the concert hall’s fashioning of the spectator’s sensory capacity within broader imperial necro-biopolitics. Attendees will have the option of participating or not participating in directed yet open-ended listening, movement, speaking activities which both cite and reframe routine concert music protocols.

Venue ( Address ): 

20 St. Joseph St.

Other events from Colin Tucker

spectatorship is not neutral
04/23/2024 to 05/03/2024


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