Walker Downey received a PhD in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

While anchored in art history, Walker’s research cuts across musicology, sound studies, media studies, and science and technology studies (STS). Walker is interested in contemporary sound art and its roots in experimental music of the Sixties and Seventies; the role played by electronic media—e.g., magnetic tape and circuitry—in cross-disciplinary sonic experimentation; cultural techniques and technologies of listening and silencing; and the politics of race, gender, and class that have historically shaped attempts to classify and combat “noise” and noise pollution.

︎ Email
︎ MIT Architecture

Scholarly Publications

“Rebooting the Art-and-Technology Movement: A Review of W. Patrick McCray’s Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture,Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, March 17, 2021, 1–19, https://doi.org/10.1080/03080188.2021.1885863

Editor, with Sarah Rifky, Thresholds 47, "Repeat" (2019). Available 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

“For Eyes and Ears: New Sound Art Serves Different Senses With Multimodal Approach,” June 7, 2022, https://bit.ly/3mkAKVX.

“Material Histories: Ruth Hardinger at Mana Contemporary,” Art in America, August 4, 2021, https://bit.ly/3xQ0mgG.

“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.

“Christine Sun Kim: Too Much Future,” Art Papers 42, no. 4 (Winter 2018–2019), https://bit.ly/3sHHD4Z.

Conferences, Lectures, and Symposia

Presenter, “Rewriting Sonic Art History,” invited Zoom talk for “Transnational Sound Initiative,” a 2020 Berlin Künstler*programm Research Hub, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst/German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), November 19, 2020.

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
PhD: Architecture: History and Theory of Art; May 2022

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

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