Douglas Kahn is Professor of Media and Innovation at the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He was the Founding Director of Technocultural Studies and is Professor Emeritus in Science and Technology Studies at the University of California, Davis. Kahn is known primarily for his writings on the use of sound in the avant-garde and experimental arts and music, and history and theory of the media arts. His best known book Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts was published by MIT Press in 1999.
Since 2002 he has resarched naturally occurring electromagnetism in science and the arts, a topic for which he received a 2006–2007 Guggenheim Fellowship. This research has lead to his most recent book Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts published in 2013 by University of California Press. This book was supported by a 2008 Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation.
With composer and founding editor Larry Austin, Kahn edited Source: Music of the Avant-garde, a collection of material drawn from the original Source: Music of the Avant Garde magazine series and, with the art historian Hannah Higgins, he has edited a collection of essays and historical documents, Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of the Digital Arts. He was editor (with Gregory Whitehead) of Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio, and the Avant-garde.
Kahn was born and raised in Bremerton, Washington. He attended The Evergreen State College when it opened its doors and graduated with a Bachelor's degree; obtained a Master's degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, where he studied with Alvin Lucier and Ron Kuivila; a Master of Fine Arts in Post-studio Arts at California Institute of the Arts where he studied with David Antin, Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Yvonne Rainer, and James Tenney, and a Ph.D. in Art History and Theory from University of Western Sydney under supervision of Helen Grace. 
Kahn created the audiotape cut-up Reagan Speaks for Himself in 1980 using an interview conducted by Bill Moyers of Ronald Reagan when he was still a candidate for president. The first version was published on a Sub Pop audiocassette and the second version was published on a flexi-disc in RAW magazine. The audiotape was used in a dance mix by the Fine Young Cannibals and sampled by Eric B. & Rakim in their song "Paid in Full (Coldcut Mix)". Kahn appears in the 1995 film Sonic Outlaws by San Francisco filmmaker Craig Baldwin.