Walker Downey is a historian of modern and contemporary art and a PhD candidate in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT. Walker's dissertation project, Auditions: Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor, and the Hybrid Genealogy of Sound Art in the United States, 1960–1980, examines two decades of radically cross-disciplinary trends in American experimental music that preceded the codification and institutionalization of Sound Art in the Eighties and after. Navigating the trajectories and expanded networks of two musicians, friends, and collaborators, Pauline Oliveros (1932–2016) and David Tudor (1926–1996), the project frames Sound Art as an outgrowth of transformative mutations in the live performance of experimental music, whose stylistic, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries were redefined in the Sixties and Seventies.

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︎ MIT Architecture

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Editor, with Sarah Rifky, Thresholds 47, "Repeat" (2019). Available now via The MIT Press.

"In the Free Field: Doug Wheeler’s PSAD Synthetic Desert III and Anechoic Histories," Art Journal OPEN, August 30, 2018, http://artjournal.collegeart.org/?p=10247.

Selected Criticism

“The Sounds of Quarantine: How Experimental Musicians are Overcoming Domestic Isolation,” Art in America, June 24, 2020, https://bit.ly/3iEZowK.

“Agnes Denes’s Idealistic Projects Refuse to Accept Apocalypse as Inevitable,” Art in America, January 7, 2020, https://bit.ly/3koHwXx.

"Reappraising Luc Ferrari and Éliane Radigue, Two Renegades of French Music," Art in America, December 11, 2019, https://bit.ly/2LGUp0j.

"Robert Morris's 'Para-Architectural' Drawings Envision a Fantasy Complex That Prioritizes Movement Over Static Form," Art in America 107, no. 11 (December 2019), https://bit.ly/36d60PD.

"Surveying Manfred Mohr’s Five-Decade Collaboration with the Computer," Art in America 107, no. 10 (November 2019), https://bit.ly/2LLA3mp.

"In Resonance: Oliver Beer at the Met Breuer," Art in America, July 30, 2019, https://bit.ly/2PFHKvN.

Conferences, Lectures, and Symposia

Presenter, “Sounding the Security State: Christina Kubisch’s Electrical Walks,” 45th-annual Cleveland Symposium: “Visualizing Sound & Silence in Art & Architecture,” Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 25, 2019.

Presenter, "'Always Already Confined': Tony Conrad's Politics of Roleplay and Improvisation," MIT List Visual Arts Center, November 29, 2018. In conjunction with "Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective," October 18, 2018–January 6, 2018.

Presenter, "Sound and Sedimentation: Walter De Maria's Eco-Critical Resonance," UCSD 11th Annual Graduate Visual Arts Symposium: "Sensory Disruptions," UC San Diego, March 3, 2018.

Presenter and Co-organizer, with Ian Condry (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Jan St. Werner (Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg), Rekha Malhotra (MIT Comparative Media Studies), and Nicole L’Huillier (MIT Media Lab), “Dissolve Music,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, March 7–9, 2018.
Keynote Speakers: Diana Deutsch, Thomas F. DeFrantz

Organizer, with Leah Aronowsky and Brad Bolman (Department of the History of Science, Harvard University), “Technical Landscapes: Aesthetics and the Environment in the History of Science and Art," Harvard University, April 6–8, 2017.
Keynote speakers: Caroline A. Jones, Peter L. Galison, Rebecca K. Uchill

Presenter, “Rebirth of White Noise: David Tudor’s Retuning of ‘9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,’” 20th Annual Graduate Art History Symposium, Williams College and the Clark Art Institute, June 5, 2015.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2016–
PhD Candidate: History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture (HTC)

Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
MA: Art History; June 2015

Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts
BA: Studio Art and Art History; May 2013