Often acoustic space is ignored in the construction of a public space, yet the negative impact this has does not seem to get many complaints. People rarely require more quality of the sonic world, because the average consumer does not have the necessary references to change this state of affairs. We know that the prevalence of noise or sounds that do not convey any social significance and are a disturbance of the quality of life, reduces the ability to identify with the place we inhabit. It is therefore urgent to think about the acoustical problems societies are facing today and integrate that thinking in urban planning, architecture and management of public space, because the idea we have of ourselves, our personal awareness and the relationships we build in the external world, are inextricably linked to a space. We all exist somewhere. And personal identity also relates to this.
Stream 1: Architecture and urban planning, keynote speaker Jean-Paul Thibaud
Stream 2: Urban sounds, identity and sense of place, keynote speaker Brandon LaBelle
Stream 3: Sound art as public art, keynote speaker Salome Voegelin
Download the Invisible Places / Sounding Cities proceedings
All the talks will be presented at Escola Superior de Educação de Viseu.
The audio works will be presented at the Listening Room at Rua do Comércio 112.
|19h00||Welcome drink to Invisible Places 2014 participants|
|13h – 24h||Listening Room|
Stream 1 – Panel 1
Chair Sabine Breitsameter
Stream 2 – Panel 1
Chair Eric Leonardson
Stream 3 – Panel 1
Stream 1 – Panel 2
ChairCarlos Alberto Augusto
Stream 2 – Panel 2
Stream 2 – Panel 4
Stream 1 – Panel 3
ChairLuís Cláudio Ribeiro
Stream 2 – Panel 3
Stream 3 – Panel 2
|17h45||End of the sessions|
|13h – 24h||Listening Room|
Stream 1 – Panel 4
Stream 2 – Panel 5
ChairCarlos Alberto Augusto
Stream 3 – Panel 3
Stream 1 – Panel 5
ChairLuís Cláudio Ribeiro
Stream 2 – Panel 6
Stream 3 – Panel 4
Stream 1 – Panel 6
Stream 2 – Panel 7
Stream 2 – Panel 8
|17h45||End of the sessions|
|10h – 24h||Listening Room|
|10h – 24h||Listening Room|
In this paper we explore the possibilities that portable Electroencephalography (EEG) technology offers in order to understand the behaviour of pedestrians in a specific nocturnal urban aural environment. Previous EEG research conducted in urban design has shown links between environmental cues and mood-enhancement (Aspinall et al., 2013). In the current pre-pilot project we recorded EEG data of stationary participants while they were exposed to urban soundscapes along a chosen pathway. Our intention was to investigate links between these soundscapes and the impact they have on the listeners' emotional state. Analysis of the data revealed probable evidence that the distance between the sound source and the listener generates feelings of discomfort. More particularly proximity of the sound source showed rise in frustration. Based on our findings we propose the design of a responsive brain interface. The interface calibrates the listeners' aural habitat in real time attempting to reduce the pedestrians' frustration levels, thus enhancing their aural experience. The paper finally discusses theories of environmental psychology, neuroscience, sound perception and affective computing. Download paper
This is an introductory study of the Maltese Soundscape and is part of an even bigger project. It introduces a soundscape diced with traditional sounds which still echo in the present and mutate and conflict with the modern sounds that are becoming part of the Maltese Sound field. This paper shows the study that has taken place, the results that have been obtained so far and the patterns in the soundscape that are beginning to form. From this initial analysis a number of possible solutions to noise problems have been presented. Further in depth investigations will be carried out and reported. Download paper
An urban open public space represents the most complex element of any city, due to its multitude of embedded sounds, and noises. Public spaces impose a great influence on people’s comfort and consequently the general well being. During planning and design process, Architects generally and especially in Egypt cast more attention to the visual aspects rather than the sensual dimensions of public spaces. Since Cairo represents one of the most overcrowded and largest capitals worldwide; its soundscape resembles the richest and most diverse that could be experienced. Its importance is fueled up by the multitude of activities, and the cultural demographic diversity. An analysis of the Cairo soundscape was conducted; a questionnaire targeting Cairene inhabitants was carried out revealing factors affecting their soundscape and aural experience, as well as psychological and physical parameters affecting the perceptual experience. The paper outlines a mitigation matrix and measures that are not only physical but also related to the spiritual perception of the soundscape for Cairene inhabitants. Download paper
(City)–Noise is a project that critically studies the anti-noise regulations of various cities. To do so, it examines the press attention given to this issue and also noise maps and the regulations designed to control acoustic pollution; it then analyses this data in texts or reading groups.
Noise in the context of acoustic pollution is considered ‘refuse’ and so, with the excuse of auditory health and urban planning, governments tend to eliminate specific sources of sound that interfere with the city’s productive activity.
This project has attempted to analyse, through texts, workshops and sound walks, the ideology lying behind these measures and the social models that they represent. In this case the results of research conducted in Madrid and Donostia (San Sebastian) will be presented. The presentation consists of a brief description of the theoretical foundations on which the project is based, followed by some of the findings of the two projects. Download paper
Technical noise information, conventionally communicated through noise maps and numbers, is far away of depicting complex sonic environments and not comprehensible for general public. For this reason, in noise action planning, the dialogue between the stakeholders usually faces difficulties and the public information and participation process fails.
This paper introduces an innovative approach to enhance public information and participation processes in noise action planning. This approach employs virtual reality technology in order to enable public listen and see a priori the results of proposed corrective measures in noise action plans. In this way, the public can comprehend the results in an intuitive manner and generate own opinion on the issue without any requirement of technical acoustics knowledge. The utility of the proposed method is evaluated by its application on a case study (Plutarco Av. Noise Action Plan-Malaga/Spain) which deals with noise from places of entertainment and agglomeration of people. Download paper
Overbetuwe, a region in the Netherlands, functions as a transport corridor. The presence of large-scale infrastructure causes noise nuisance and make the landscape in Overbetuwe unpleasant be in. New functions with noise sensitive facades are planned, while the presence of traffic noise will increase due the A15 expansion of 2x3 ways. Meanwhile the Overbetuwe municipality strives to reach climate neutrality by the year of 2030. The widening of the A15 and the ambition to become climate neutral will affect the landscape experience in Overbetuwe. Both undoubtly mean an increase in the number of sound sources and noise pollution. The challenge here is the implementation of renewable energy technologies in the surroundings of the motorway, but also aims acoustic landscape quality. Download paper
Online sound maps been uploaded for nearly a decade and a half and they continue to proliferate. This paper questions the specific abstractions that are projected through these online map technologies, the “little white lies” that they tell. It explores how the ‘view from above’ that these maps impel us to adopt involves a charged perspective, one that is framed in a particular institutional mesh of delivery and access, that is energised by the suspicion that it involves a ‘watching machine’ that has long been plugged into a ‘war machine.’ Paradoxically, the very height that this view depends upon obscures the urban vertical, that reaches below ground as well as above and which might be a dimension of increasing importance.
When the base layer of the online map is re-assembled for a sonic geography, something strange can happen: the apparently inherent abstractions of the ‘view from above’ can be partially disrupted: the drifting eye-ball can find itself a body, the slippery, icy gaze can be roughened by friction, the high can be brought low, relations can be established between stuff and people and animals and weather – the God’s Eye can be misted by the buffalo’s breath. What was once invisible can be rendered audible perhaps because sound might always already be a cartography. And yet, that cartographic potential still seems – as it does in the visual register – to avert itself from the elevations and declinations of the vertical. Download paper
The European Noise Directive introduced the necessity to identify, protect and enrich places characterized by a substantial sound quality with the aim to reduce the harmful effects of noise pollution by providing quiet areas for the wellbeing of the city dwellers. However the condition of quietness requested cannot be addressed by applying just a noise control strategy as well as it is not only focused on the sound quality of the urban environment, but a multi-sensory approach for their design is needed. Moreover the representation tools commonly used in the urban design practices seem to be inadequate for dealing with this topic. The ongoing research aims to propose new instruments, based on the usage of interactive virtual environments, for the description and analysis of these complex environments in order to overcome the quantitative approaches currently used, as well as prevent a mono-sensory description of these sensitive places. Download paper
This paper will discuss the integration of sonification in urban design and planning. Being both temporal and polyphonic in nature, sound can assist in the representation of the multiple temporal flows which contribute to the urban dynamic of a city. Thus we propose a ‘sonified’ urban masterplan to represent the city in time as well as space, allowing us to better compose urban flows such as movement. First, we introduce the Sonified Urban Masterplan tool, and describe how it can be used to sonify the multiple layers of graphical information used in urban design and planning. Then, we describe how we can use sound to represent different urban systems, before explaining the generation of a Sonified Urban Masterplan for the city of Paris. Through a discussion of the various reactions received from members of the general public, we conclude with the different advantages of the integration of sonification in urban design and planning. Download paper
The Listenn Project explores remote embodied experiences of natural environments through sound. It focuses on community awareness, and sustainability, studying how rich digital media environments and acoustic ecology practices can be used to broaden discussion about the value of precious, yet fragile environments. It explores how virtual ecological engagement through sound can nurture environmental awareness and community agency. This paper introduces the conceptual grounding for the project and the preliminary outcomes from conducting two field laboratories in the American Southwest deserts. The proposed outcomes include immersive virtual reality experiences of being present in such natural environments without needing to travel and without degrading them by visitation. The prototype integrates a clear accessibility strategy and consists of a dynamic website, immersive sound installations and two mobile phone apps permitting direct community input and embodied remote walking experiences that could bring the acoustic ecologies of the American Southwest deserts to global audiences. Download paper
River Listening is a practice-led research collaboration between independent artist Dr. Leah Barclay and the Australian Rivers Institute to explore new methods for acoustically monitoring three Queensland river systems: the Brisbane River, the Mary River and the Noosa River. The project involves the establishment of site-specific listening labs to experiment with hydrophonic recording and sound diffusion to measure aquatic biodiversity including fresh-water fish populations – a key indicator of river health. This paper introduces the foundations for the project and preliminary experimentation through the initial listening labs in Australia. River Listening fundamentally explores the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the management and conservation of global river systems. Download paper
Soundscapes and other monitoring recordings register the acoustical activities in a locality portraying its acoustic dimension, depicting human and animal presence. Soundscapes recordings in natural areas, including urban sites, can be used to describe biodiversity, by documenting their presence, and characterize the environment. These recordings are thus primary sources of information, and securing its conservation may guarantee the acoustic memory of habitats and ecosystems. These recordings have a potential application in future recreational, educational or research activities. Soundscape recordings, and it associated information, if organized in a long-term data-curation framework, such as sound archives or collections can ensure its preservation and maintain its value. Overall, after acknowledging the need to preserve soundscapes recordings, a road map must be developed to identify past important non-preserved recordings and to promote the inclusion of a long-term preservation strategy for recordings in starting projects. Download paper
The Semana Santa of Seville can be understood as a re-imagining of the city through a reconfiguring of the senses: the visual, the auditory, the olfactory and the tactile. The city and the self are transformed through the Semana Santa, the city's major annual fiesta, in a form of multi-sensory theatre in which the urban landscape becomes the stage, co-habited by actors and audience alike. This paper will explore the soundscapes of the Semana Santa, the complex matrix of acoustic communication that underpins them, and how they are shaped by Seville's particular urban landscape, where sound and architecture take on a reciprocal and harmonious relationship. Download paper
Unlike the theoretical models of perception that separate the subject and the object and fill the distance between them with sound signal, is there another model based on contact and which reduces that distance to zero? In other words: what if sound perception was objectively an haptic modality?
Starting from concrete examples, observed in a survey of inhabitants and public place soundscape mapping, this paper shows that sound perception is a matter of touch and therefore, sound topologies.
The results confirm the intuition of Merleau-Ponty rather than Husserl on the issue of touch in perception process and in particular in its relationship with vision. The notion of sensitive topology simplifies the model of perception beyond the sound phenomenon. Examples are shown with the questions and assumptions arising therefrom. Download paper
This paper presents a few considerations regarding a collection of sonic descriptions on European cities found in travellers’ writings.
What can we learn from a collection of more than one hundred and fifty quotes of this kind?
1° The astonishment of certain practices of the past,
2° It brings old paintings, engravings of cities back to life, in a very vivid manner;
3° It also shows that these accounts come closer to the contemporary world, because
4° in all these descriptions, the only real instrument of measurement is Man and because our sensory "instruments" have not changed in 5000 years, so that these texts speak so obviously to us.
5° If we have drawings that are 15.000 years of age and sculptures that much older, these quotes are the only acoustic experience prior to our modern methods of recording;
6° We can build sonic maps of old cities.
A research of the walk in the works of Saramago and Stefaan van Biesen in Lisbon: in a theoretical approach, a research emphasizing on representations of the city in a promenadological discovery and in a practical approach, where this urban discovery is concretized in a space of artistic and social transformation. As an urban intervention project it investigates, documents and enhances the aural heritage of the city through participation of residents, materialized in the composition of a soundwalk, building a locative media instrument based on the noTours platform, referring to the Spaziergangwissenschaft (the science of walking) implying the community, in a kinetic esthetics, in the planification of their own city through minimal interventions and by going on foot, in this project elaborated as a public artistic laboratory in the space of Lisbon as a reconstruction of the urban space harmonizing its own sensoriality out of literary texts and artistic works. Download paper
Through interactions with environmental parameters such as sound, public spaces generate ambiances which provide a sense to the places. Subjective methods of analyzing and characterizing the complexity of the urban soundscape have to be associated with objective evaluations of emotional arousal. So we tried to approach our study with an experimental methodology of three components: spatial analysis, analysis of physical signals and the capture of emotions via a biosensor called Q-Sensor that evaluates the stress level via skin conductance. Our field of study was the downtown of Tunis. We tried to follow subjects during a specific walk and to capture their emotional states. In addition, we recorded both the audio signal and the associated comment of the person describing the sonic ambience. The results of this study showed that the perception of stress in public places is related to certain specific frequency band signal of the urban contemporary. Download paper
In this paper, the distinctive sounds of Nicosia are detected and a basis is set for examining whether the soundmarks of the divided centre of the city tend to empower the sense of place of the inhabitants. Firstly, the concept of the soundmark, as defined by Acoustic Ecology, is connected to the complex dimensions of place. Then, the methodology is analysed and explained, and the experience of a soundwalker is sited, delineating the soundscape of the city centre, leading the discussion to the religious soundmarks. Finally, a basis for a further discussion is set, regarding both the methodology needed to be applied and the religious soundmarks in place themselves. Download paper
Japanese architect and mathematician Kazuo Shinohara (1925–2006) is known for coining the phrase “beauty in chaos” in architectural discourse. He argued that extreme visual juxtapositions, such as a section of New York City’s Fifth Avenue counterposing a traditional Shinto shrine “would create conditions for each to bring out the best in the other.” Over the past year, I’ve been observing Tokyo’s sound environment in order to uncover similarly striking instances of a sort of “beauty in chaos” from the vantage point of street cafes. The street cafe was chosen as a site for observation because it allows for an extended stay in an area exposed to urban conditions. By using field recordings, architectural drawings, and text descriptions of the sonic experience, my research attempts to communicate the rich spectrum of Tokyo’s urban sonic experience.
Embedded in high density areas, these street cafes often occupy interstitial spaces—chairs fill in gaps between buildings, alcoves tuck into volumes adjacent to multiline, bustling commercial centers and seating clusters negotiate available space with air conditioner units and sidewalk slithers. Here, sound is almost always characterized by a fusion of otherwise unrelated activities. Yet, despite this lack of cohesion, “beauty in chaos” and unexpected relationships tends to emerge. In one instance, for example, a street cafe occupies a series of alcove space which, due to the presence of early reflections, would normally offer customers little acoustic privacy. However, it also sits across a pachinko (gambling) hall and, as a result, conversations are masked by the sound of striking metal balls. In another cafe, a double-height steel wall surrounds the cafe area in order to block views of adjacent parking lots. However, because it neighbors a motorcycle lot, a regular flow of revving engines cause this metallic plate to resonate with thunderous rumble.
In Japanese landscape design, the practice of “borrowing scenery” is a common practice. In cities, sound is inherently mediatory in nature, but can it be “borrowed” in a design context? Rather than generalizing the urban sonic experience, my research zeroes in on site-specific situations that deal with particular combinations of materiality, acoustics and activities in an attempt to develop a new vocabulary and ideas for future sound situations. It explores how a lack of conscious consideration for the acoustic quality of from these street cafes consequently expands the possibilities of urban sonorous conditions to experience. By grasping a better understanding of the rich spectrum of specific interactions between sound, space and activities in cities such as Tokyo, we can begin to explore new ideas for intervention within the urban sound environments. Download paper
How can the complex soundworld of electronic musicians inspire the development of a new vocabulary and tools for describing and exploring the post-industrial transformation of urban sound environments? Through participation in two artistic projects, 'Parckdesign 2014' and 'Het Geluid van Hasselt en Genk', research is conducted into a new evaluation of the transformation of two urban areas which are physically and socially marked by their industrial past. The avant-garde output and experimental collaborations of independent electronic record labels provides the conceptual and methodological basis for a participative dismantling and redefinition of the collective appropriation of acoustic territories of former industrial zones in the centrally located canal zones of two urban areas. Download paper
Radio is a kind of non-place that holds the potential for movements of presence: spurring encounters across distance and time. Broadcasts from Empty Rooms (Sasha Grbich with Heidi Angove, 2014) utilised the potential of live Internet radio broadcast as a porous boundary between places. The Broadcasts were a series of night-time, live atmospheric sound streams from empty urban buildings that created situations in which unpredictable connected moments between people and sound ecologies were possible.
This paper considers Broadcasts from Empty Rooms, alongside Jason Sweeney’s stereopublic: crowdsourcing the quiet in a discussion about listening to quiet places, the unraveling boundaries between people, places and sounds, and the participatory potential of Internet broadcast radio. Making is also considered: both works employ quiet approaches to working with sound that sit between the poles of finding and composing. Download paper
In this paper the concept of place is explored as the stimulus for the creation of original works combining electronic music and photography. Although the compositions of both authors take inspiration from different facets of place there is a similarity of theoretical approach regarding the identity of the individual and their relationship to geographical situations and place. We will draw upon aspects of psychogeography, psychosonology, the theory of ‘atmosphere’by Gernot Böhme to explore complexity of place in 21st century. Download paper
This paper seeks a way to uncover the role of aural experience in the affective, and more effective, construction of place. In the films of Tarkovsky, the ‘weak’ narrative, based on ambiguity and improvisation, intentionally creates a distance between the image and the story in order to weaken the logic of the narrative, originating a field of associative images that arouses strong personal interpretations. The same may happen in a city by applying subtle acoustic strategies, suggesting to its users a new, more involved, attitude, so that they cease to be external elements and become participants, accepting a moral responsibility in the progression of events. This hypothesis is explored through the analysis of sound in Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (1979) and two sonic interventions held in Lisbon (1999) and Guimarães (2012). Download paper
This paper explores some of the acoustic landscapes of Sector V New Town/Rajarhat: a quickly growing satellite city and special economic zone in West Bengal, Kolkata. Embedding these in their physical and economic geographies, this paper indicates the potential for incorporating a sonic method into how we approach and make sense of urban and urbanizing spaces. By playing with this tension between the affective and the semiotic, it argues for a perspective that brings the nuanced registers that listening requires to the analytical practices of the social sciences. Through such experimentation sound becomes a means to engage with, and elaborate upon, contemporary social-economic and political landscapes that require polyphonic and dynamic readings. At the same time the paper shows the importance of incorporating geo-economic and political critiques into sound discourses and practices. Download paper
This paper traces a path through current thinking about "place" in human geography, ethnomusicology, and phenomenology. It draws upon Maurice Merleau-Ponty's insistence that knowledge of the lived world is generated by a living body; Edward Casey's formulation that place precedes space as "the first of all things"; and Tim Ingold's definition of landscape as "dwelling-place". My perspective is that of an artist who uses field recordings as the primary material in a matrix of activities – composition, live electronics and improvisation among them. My larger project is to develop an integrated and sustainable model of sonic practice that supports an embedded and non-hierarchical relationship with our ecological milieu. An anecdote will set the stage. Download paper
In this paper I propose the use of extended phonography as a methodology that introduces new forms of representation regarding the experience of place and its relationship to sound. The paper goes on to outline the conceptual framework of the site-specific project Constructing a Soundscape, discussing the work as a direct outcome of this methodology. This work, both artistic and discursive, attempts to address the need for a vocabulary that mirrors new aesthetics arising in sound art. Download paper
Take a moment and think about the undercurrents that may shape your own listening. Language in a sense speaks us; it is a system that shapes our expression. We take in information, interpret it, and express it all through the filter of language. Audio technologies are also a system which shape our expression. Most educated people understand that media shapes our concept of the world, and that the power of the disembodied “voice,” which I’ll be focusing on in the coming pages, is extended and expanded through audio technology. Though we’re not always conscious of it, these two systems both influence and constrain our thoughts and actions.
We’re about to examine how audio awareness reveals choices that we might otherwise miss; particularly how sound and voice conspire to inform our ideas about what is possible. When a sound or message makes its way through and resonates with us, we pause, and a cognitive or emotional shift takes place. These often fleeting and elusive consciousness shifts can take many forms, waking us up to the present moment, and for that instant, communicating something about ourselves to ourselves. I will argue that this is precisely the moment when we are most capable of challenging and expanding our preconceived notions of reality. Download paper
The Sama’Khana or the Sufi theatre (hall of listening) complex, an 18th century theatre and monastery constructed for the confraternity of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes. It is located in Suyufiyya street in the medieval Cairo that lies beyond the old Fatimid walls. The complex was developed in the Mamluk period, and located near the pond of the Birket al-Fir and the old KhaligMasri (canal). The Sama’Khana is a wooden structure which features a circular area reserved for performances and constitutes of two levels of circular galleries surmounted by a wooden dome. The hall was used for spiritual listening, in order to listen to the harmony of the cosmos, the dervishes whirled in the circular space, expressing the geometrical and mathematical symbolism involved in the ceremony. According to the Mevlevi confraternity, the complex was devoted to moral and spiritual education. The proportion of its architectural space reveals the symbolism of geometrical and cosmological expressions. This study explores the geometrical parameters of the Sama’Khana, and its impact on the acoustic environment. The modal analysis of the space revealed that the structure was found to resonate at fundamental frequencies, which are further described to belong to the alpha wave patterns found in the human brain. These patterns are associated with meditation, relaxation, and altered states of consciousness. All this adds to the special soundscape patterns associated with the ceremony of listening to the cosmos, and outlines the importance of the sonic properties of the Sama’Khana. Download paper
In any aesthetic presentation that merges sound and food, questions of acoustic ecology must be addressed. Background music while dining has become a ubiquitous component of the urban soundscape, while at the same time, the murmuring of conversation is considered a fundamental and inalienable accompaniment to any shared meal. The social institution of communal dining brings with it a host of assumptions and conventions that must be carefully negotiated.
In a recent series of events, I, along with a team that includes producer and designer Jutta Friedrichs and sound artist Stephan Moore, have collaborated with acclaimed chef Jason Bond of Bondir restaurant in Cambridge, MA, USA, to present an immersive, evening-length, audio-gustatory experience that we have termed “food opera.” In these events we explore dining as a communicative medium, using the format of a meal coupled with sound to tell the story of sustainable food practices and the emerging “locavore” movement. To accomplish this, we incorporate field recordings from the farms that source the restaurant’s ingredients to collapse the space between harvesting and consumption, sonically bringing farm to table.
In my paper, I will present a typology of the varying approaches that have been used to synchronize food and sound, including a historical overview of the genre. Then I will present some of the solutions we employed to effectuate a creative reimagining of the restaurant soundscape, transforming what is often mere background noise into an opportunity to foster community discourse about food sourcing practices. I will close by pointing to areas of future research, including an upcoming food opera event based on Pablo Neruda’s poetry collection El Libro de las preguntas. Download paper
This lecture has been developed at the intersection between two research frameworks: the Auditory Architecture Research Unit and Architecture of Embodiment, both at the Berlin University of the Arts. The first one is a platform devoted to develop a new conceptual approach to and new practices of architectural research and design based on the auditory experience. The second one is a research environment dedicated to establish an enactivist perspective of the build environment.
I have structured this paper in three sections. First I will briefly introduce the most relevant concepts of the enactive approach to cognition implemented in the auditory research and design of the environment. Second, I will present the outline of a research and design practice – the auditory mapping – developed in this conceptual framework. And in the last section, I will show the most significant results of the project “Klangumwelt Ernst-Reuter-Platz” as an example of a concrete case. Download paper
This paper aims to discuss sound and space conversational relationship, combining theoretical research and the practice “Urban Reverberation”, a sound intervention held in public space. First, the paper introduces the context of the intervention briefly and after presents its theoretical framework concerning space, interfaces and sound interventions. Then, the article presents the sound intervention discussing its concepts, methods, the interface role and the reactions and comments of the audience, gathered by video recording, photos, and semi-structured interviews. At last, the paper presents its findings and theoretical reflection about the sound intervention. Download paper
This article aims to understand and compare the use of sounds and music as a tool to disputing, sharing and lotting space in two squares in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In order to do so, citizens manipulate sounds and their parameters, such as intensity, frequency and spatiality. We refer to research data collected by Nucleurb/CCNM-UFMG constituted by a set of methodological procedures that involve field observation, sound recording, photographs, field notes and research on archives, gathering and cross analyzing texts, pictures and sounds, in order to grasp the dynamics of conformation of "place" within the urban space. Download paper
Cities can be aggressive environments for every sense. However they can also offer pleasant atmospheres in line with the human, social and economic dynamics. The perception of the quality of the ambient sound plays a relevant role on the sense of place and well-being. Urban parks are part of every city fabric and they are usually well appreciated by the citizens for providing restoration, some "quiet", and more pleasant sites, at least when compared to the surrounding areas. Research on the soundscape of parks in cities in Portugal and in Brazil have been conducted in order to assess the coherence of the sound with the park dynamics and to understand what makes such areas interesting for the visitor. Work is being directed toward the differentiation of the sound components of the overall sound environment in different types of parks and tothe development of techniques for mapping the perceived sound components. The work also aims at understanding effects of climate and culture on the perception of the soundscape. Results will be presented and discussed.
This study constitutes the first attempt to architecturally represent the sounding city of Thessaloniki. The writers approach sonic urban environment as a field that has always interfered with the formation of architectural realities. The creation of a sound framework and the notion of sonic architectural ecologies construct a new approach towards the urban ecologies, concerning especially Thessaloniki. Solids, networks and communities compose an invisible urban fabric with vast amounts of information concerning the reality of a city, beyond the typical urban studies and sterile three-dimensional geometry. Download paper
The proposed study concerns the characterization of sound ambiances produced by the traditional architectural device gannariyya and its contemporary reproduction, implanted in two different neighboring urban fabrics of the capital Tunis. Thus, we adopted an ambiantal multidisciplinary method based on two approaches. First, quantitative approach involves observations in situ and the processing of audio signal measurements and sound recordings taken simultaneously from both sides of the gannariyya. Second, qualitative approach implies interviews with users in addition to recognize their perception of the sound phenomenon. Our field of study is the traditional medina of Tunis and the neighboring modern city. The results collected through measurements, frequency analysis and interviews, show that both types of device filter the sound signal differently. They also reveal that new building materials are responsible of this gap. Download paper
More than half of the world’s population already live in cities and this is expected to reach 75 percent by 2050. In the developed world the effect of the growth of cities has often only been considered late in the day. This paper sets out future development scenarios for cities and urban areas, in developed and developing countries, and looks at the potential impact on soundscape. An evolving toolkit for city design is discussed. Proposals are made for greater protection of humans, wildlife and tranquil areas and for the preservation of important “sound-marks” that identify a place. Download paper
This paper explores my efforts to move my sound studies work from theory to methodology to praxis, particularly focusing on the production of social difference via listening and how differential listening practices creates fractured and/or parallel experiences of allegedly shared urban spaces.
I wanted to enable my students mobilize sound studies not just as an analytic filter to help them understand the world, but as a method allowing meaningful engagement with it. In consultation with Christie Zwahlen, the Assistant Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Binghamton University, my upper level undergraduate “How we Listen” students were placed in groups of five and tasked with designing community service projects that identified and addressed an issue in Binghamton, an impoverished, de-industrializing town in semi-rural upstate New York with few economic prospects and a dwindling population.
The students explained these projects via a public poster presentation to which faculty members and community partners were involved—they ranged from rain-activated sound art, to historical sound walks that layered archival sounds with current perceptions, and a “noise month” sound-collection and remix project designed to challenge entrenched attitudes. Working with local residents and using asset-based theories of civic engagement, the students' projects sought to re-sound Binghamton, enhancing existing forms of communication, amplifying hidden sounds and histories, and creating new sounds to resound throughout Binghamton’s future.
While the students initially set out to “fix” Binghamton—bringing year-round residents into the world as their largely 18-21 selves heard it—they ended up questioning the exclusivity of their own listening practices, realizing that while they may have been inhabiting Binghamton for the past few years, they hadn't really been perceptually living in it. Christie and I plan to select one of the proposed projects and together incorporate it into a full blown, multi-year service project organically embedded into the pedagogy of “How We Listen,” using sound studies methodologies to spark the kind of self-realization that leads to civically engaged citizens.
At EA/CITAR (School of Arts/Research Centre in Science and Technology of the Arts), sound has always assumed a fundamental role, both in academic research and curricular offer, featuring a Master Program in Sound Design and a Doctoral Program Specialization in Computer Music. This paper presents an overview of some recent artistic/research projects undertaken by students and researchers at this institution, which stimulate the user/listener awareness for the acoustic phenomenon. Furthermore, we describe three pedagogical practices, stemming from Soundscape and Film Sound studies, which aim at training students to avoid the devious influence of sight on the assessment of soundscapes. Download paper
The present paper tries to summarise the project Matadero Memoria Aural focusing on pivotal themes such as urban transformation, sound or collective memory. Throughout theoretical references, the collective has established the essence of the project in which converge the importance of oral history, sense of place and community. In this sense, Sound Readers have been experimenting with sound, urban practice and different methodologies; eventually, they have launched an accessible online database with the results of their research. Download paper
During the last three decades, the big cities on our planet have undergone a significant acoustic change, resulting in an assimilation of their soundscapes and a loss of acoustic identity. The paper explores the parameters of auditory homogenization and reflects on its reasons. Dialectically, not only the phenomena itself are investigated, but also the ways of listening, as coined by offers, habits, media, and societies' basic principles, priorities, deficiencies and power relationships. How does the global homogenization of urban soundscapes affect and coin the conventions of organizing sounds? What do they reveal about our societal systems, and: can such an "order of sounds" be changed?
This research presents the relationship between soundscapes, learning, and belonging in the Konohana ward of Osaka, Japan. Konohana’s soundscape affords various modalities of intersensorial listening: from inside one’s home, it is possible to hear neighbors’ TVs and conversations, cars and motorbikes passing by, children playing in the street, trash collector vehicle jingles, the local noodle-cart’s whistle and the tofu seller’s passing bell. Belonging is constituted through these “sonic encounters” within the soundscape of everyday Konohana life. Yet these encounters hinge on learning how to appropriate perceptual, cultural and performative affordances of those sounds. The result is a multi-temporal, multi-sited assemblage of soundscape that affords an experience of a neighborhood through local, city, country and memorial emplacement.
Through ethnographic interviews, participant observation, and multisensory ethnographic methods of neighborhoods in Konohana the paper aims to contribute an analytical model of learning in soundscapes that interrogates how sonic affordances constitute belonging. By doing so, the ongoing research aims tointerrogate the sociology and anthropology of sound and the manner in which sounds emplace listeners thereby facilitating learning, modes of knowing, feelings of belonging, aesthetic valuing and forms of practice. Download paper
Until very recently in the history of philosophy (non-musical) sounds have been almost absent from serious philosophical consideration and although auditory perception was often taken into account when the main subject was music, it has rarely been considered for its perceptual specificity, more often than not, superseded by the visual modality of perception. Rather surprisingly, it was in a famous descriptive metaphysics essay by P. F. Strawson, Individuals, that an auditory world was conceived as a thought experiment, considering it a possible model for establishing a conceptual scheme of a spatio-temporal world. Strawson argued, though, that an exclusively auditory world would only provide a temporal framework, since sounds wouldn’t have, according to him, intrinsic spatial characteristics (what we usually ascribed to sounds as spatial would have been the result of multimodal perceptual interaction). Notwithstanding, there is now an intellectual consensus in philosophical sound studies that accords spatial features to sounds, namely their locations. This of course and the information it provides concerning sound sources make auditory perception a valuable cognitive resource for the spatial representation of the perceiver’s environment. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that sounds also have temporal features and that we can only perceive them in time. Actually, there is even a theory (O’Callaghan 2007) that conceives them ontologically as particular events, in which a surrounding medium is disturbed or set into motion by the action of interacting bodies. But even if we do not agree with the event-theory of sounds, it seems reasonable to accept they have temporal durations. In fact, sounds are not only perceived in time but they even add to the perception of time itself. As far as we can postulate, in a Kantian fashion, an inner sense, we can think of sounds and aural properties as qualitatively enriching our experience of objects, events and our own self-awareness. Consequently, we may build a temporal representation of events and the places where they occur, with the help of sound durations, the temporal relations between sounds – succession, simultaneity, order, etc. – and our own experience of those sounds.
If the spatial aspect of auditory perception enables the perceiver with cognitive tools to build a descriptive and operational map of places and situations, then the temporal features – working together with other audible qualities which, we claim, enhance this possibility – provide qualitative elements for the weaving of acoustic narratives, inhabited with meaningful experiences that emotionally connect (or disconnect) the perceiver with (from) its environment.
What I aim to do in this presentation is then to highlight the temporal features of acoustic experience through the phenomenological description and critical analysis of auditory perception, in order to show how soundscapes are interweaved with temporal elements that necessarily pervade the personal experience of places. Download paper
Consider driving a car without sound, no engine noise, no music or voices, no honking of horns, no whoosh of passing traffic or splash of tyres on wet tarmac. Without sound, much of the meaning and texture of driving becomes lost. In this paper we suggest that a careful attention to sound, not just music, can give insights into how affect moves between and through human and non-human bodies. We argue that the affective and emotional experiences and relations that arise through car driving practices are significant to how people understand themselves, others and place and is part of the reason people continue to drive their cars given we know the environmental impact they have. Download paper
This paper argues for the methodological and theoretical use of sound in studies of policing, through an examination of police radio dispatches detailing the police eviction of an Occupy Movement encampment in Oakland, California in the United States in 2011. The paper mobilizes Stuart Hall, et al.'s concept of the "police as amplifiers," as well as aspects of Control Theory, to theorize that listening to and analyzing the sound of the police (via police dispatches and other sonic archives) might serve to "amplify" otherwise silenced "disturbances" in urban space, and allow for a consideration of how social, economic, and political crises may be managed (or heard) differently on local and global scales. Download paper
When one detects that the aural partition is clearly ‘not matching’ with the visual/physical partition, situations such as ‘noise complaints’ may occur. One would assume that a certain physical area portioned visually, is being secured as one’s own private space. However, such private space does not guarantee synchronicity with the ‘aural space’ boundaries.
Neighbors’ voices leaking through the walls, loud rock music blasting from passing cars through the windows, and even birds chirping in the morning heard in the bed through closed windows during cold seasons, are results of being in various acoustic arenas at the same time. None are matching with the dimensions or the size of the visually decoded private space. When you hear sounds from beyond the visual boundary, people describe them as hearing sounds from ‘outside’. In fact, you are ‘inside’ the overlapping acoustic arenas. If you build a soundproofed wall, add another layer of windowpane, or blast even louder music to drown everything else out, it is an attempt to ‘divide’ the acoustic arena – to match with the visually represented boundaries.
As individual’s hearing varies in relation with the environment, and widely depends on personal preferences; defining ‘noise’ should not and will never be a simple business. However, when it comes to the term, ‘noise pollution,’ the matter becomes political. The tolerance level of sounds ‘leaked from outside of visual boundary,’ shifts and changes. In an over-populated urban area, it closely synchronized with (and is occasionally driven by) economy and politics.
Gentrification, analyzed from the angle of aural aspects, would cast a new ‘pattern movement’ in our landscape. As a case study, the author examines the case of New York City from mid-1990’s “Giuliani era” via Broomberg through the current.
This paper proposes that sound art works (or sonic artistic practices) can encourage auditory conscientiousness and thus foster stronger concepts for the future of urban sonic environments. Artists and their works can do this both by revealing ways that urban spaces could sound as well as reflecting ways that we could listen. Founding the discussion in practices of the soundscape movement a few case studies will be considered, including installations (sounding and silent), soundwalk and interactive (artist research) approaches. Download paper
Dronestikes on Saturn is the collaboration in between raxil4 and his Nameless Is Legion, an audio work that uses reverb laden drones with pedals, sine generators and a four track with loop tapes of some fine recordings or sonifications of the Saturn radio waves recorded near the poles of the planet via the Cassini spacecraft. It is a media ecology audio work offering an ethical composition and an aesthetical piece for preservation of the space, the urban space or the outer space, where these waves have been captured. In this case, preservation laws could develop a strong policy to facilitate the research for audio work in the conservation of sound as (eco)system. Download paper
Berlin Sonic Places was a wide–ranging sound arts and research project carried out in 2012 that aimed to explore the importance of sound in the urban context and the impact of planning and development on city soundscapes. Berlin has undergone constant redevelopment since unification so is a particularly relevant city to raise such issues and look for answers.
Berlin Sonic Spaces brought together different interest groups –artists, architects/planners, sociologists, musicians, residents, administrators and the public – for a broad dialogue on Berlin’s changing soundscape. Research and sound arts projects were commissioned in three specific locations chosen for the types of development exemplified – Prenzlauerberg (gentrification), Rummelsburg (total redevelopment), Tempelhof Airfield (future planning). These led to public events where the work was presented as installations and performances together with open talks and discussions. Core themes included ‘sound and social change’, ‘methods for studying and representing soundscape issues’, and ‘future city soundscapes’.
The talk will briefly overview the whole project, but focus in detail on Rummelsburg, where important soundscape and planning questions have been raised during its regeneration from a grim prison and industrial area to today’s leafy waterside development with a growing residential community.
The paper addresses the relationship between local and distributed strategies with reference to two recent participatory sound art projects. The local concern for site and place is discussed and juxtaposed with distributed practices, which, by definition question and extend the very notion of site. I refer to examples from ethnomusicology, anthropology and education in which participative horizontal research methodologies lead to a dynamic articulation of local conditions and allow for a reflection on how technology impacts on social interaction and relationships with place. The work of Samuel Araújo, Georgina Born and Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire provides a framework of reference in this context.
The tensions between the local, the global and the role of technology are articulated through examples of creative work in sonic arts that celebrate the use of ubiquitous technologies, a focus on community and notions of site and place that are so crucial in the recent history of sound art. The notion of place is discussed both in the context of site-specificity and those practices that deliberately disrupt or extend the notion of geographical proximity and locale.
I will focus on approaches which acknowledge that culture is contextual and informed by changing but relatively slow moving territories. This dependence on territory applies as much to the community driven village brass band as it does to the Turner prize. The intent in a cultural action is forever tied to a set of local conditions which define physical, social and technical environments, necessary for that action to produce meaning. These conditions and environments are subject to constant change as are the agents involved. As such, the relationship with the local can only be transitory and of the moment. It can only capture a particular reality conditioned by place, people and time.
An understanding of place, informed by the ephemeral and the transitory emphasises the dynamics of the territory and does not treat the local as fixed in its own condition, the exotic or the other. An experiential engagement with territory is then clearly possible to articulate with others. However, the transfer of knowledge is from the local to the expert and not the other way around. This means the expert, or in the case of this text, the practitioner who wishes to engage with the local through sonic experience, cannot bring a pre-determined agenda. The local is the ephemeral condition only articulated by experience.
The paper draws on experiences from the project “Sounds of the City - Belfast” as an example of a participative art project engaging local communities through the experience of listening and on the more recent “Som da Maré” situated in one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro. “Som da Maré” implements participatory strategies connecting various groups in an articulation of place, memory and experience through sound. This project employed a distributed authorship model across over thirty participants leading to a sonic arts exhibitions and a guided sound walk in Rio de Janeiro in May 2014.
The paper takes up an approach to sound art creation in the public art sphere. Addressed in line with the perspectives on public art by some of the critical authors and artists in the field as Arlene Raven or Susanne Lacy, the paper reinforces the analysis of the sound art practice in the public sphere related to notions of commitment, ephemerality or temporality which are crucial for the 'art in-the-public interest' paradigm and, broadly understood, for the public art today.
The paper poses questions of how can we represent the views of urban dwellers in public art. How can we as artists maintain a space of community participation, consultation, and conceptualization in our work? How can we gather people’s views from all walks of life about how best to continue to live in major urban conurbations in a carbon constrained future. How can a public artwork take the pulse of a city and present the views of its citizens? What strategies can be implemented to do this while creating an inventive, playful and engaging interactive artwork?
I employ The Housing Project created in Melbourne, Australia as a case study for how these questions can be answered. This is a playful and engaging interactive sound/sculpture installation, which explores the experience of city life. It uses generative sound, edited interviews from a broad range of citizens of the city, and complex programming algorithms. The resulting sound/sculpture installation incorporates ethnographic investigative techniques, digital programming and a tactile interface. Small ceramic objects are employed to trigger an audio environment that has both a serious investigative intent (on the part of the creators) while providing an exciting and stimulating sound art experience for the participants/visitors. The presentation of the paper will include images, video and a recording of the sound work created by the installation.
In the exhibition of this work, participants/visitors generate urban audio stories by laying out a city, placing miniature ceramic objects on an interactive glass platform. This action triggers sound files to create an ever-changing sound environment, telling stories from a broad range of people living in a 21st Century multicultural medium/high density city.
The discussion of city life is contextualised within a composition of electronic sounds and field recordings made in and around the city, composed and programmed by Melbourne artists Chris Knowles, Keith Deverell and Marco Bresiciani. Heard in this changing cityscape is a mix of hundreds of people’s voices from all walks of life and many ethnicities. Refugees, migrants, minority groups, children, parents, architects, university students, urban planners, design professionals, young people, and elderly citizens offer points of view, memories and stories about their experiences of urban life. Emerging from this work is a conversation about the current issues surrounding city living, shelter, urban design, sustainability, climate change, prejudice, tolerance, peace and reconciliation.
It was officially launched in the City of Melbourne in September 2012. It was generously funded by the national arts funding body, The Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, government agencies – ArtPlay and VicHealth, and private companies Greyspace, and Tait Enterprises. Download paper
Kikuo Saito, an elementary school teacher at a school in the Nishijin area of Kyoto, self-published some original research in the 1960s on soundscapes and the use of sound in education. The Nishijin area is well known for its association with its local industry of traditional silk textiles, so it was filled with the noise of the many workshops’ looms. Saito’s report provided information about the sonic environment that pervaded the lives of his pupils, including the spatial distribution of sound levels. Saito developed original use of the noise environment in his teaching, encouraging his class to compose essays and poems around those factory noises, which he compiled into publications. Thus, Saito provided excellent and rare evidence regarding the past soundscape in Nishijin from both physical and cognitive viewpoints. Moreover, his practices as a teacher could be regarded as a pioneering case of sound education. Download paper
The purpose of this essay is to explore the possible relationship between sound elements that make up the ambiance, the identity of a brazilian beach and the identification of an urban tribe that atend the place. The study is focused on a tent as an ambiance that stands out in a natural environment. Its symbolic and emotional aspects can be compared to what Thibaud calls medium, i.e., the air, sound, light, smell, all elements of the environment that enable the perception. Through in loco observations of the existing dynamics between the ambiance and the people and analyzes based in the literature review, we seek to understand whether and how one of these aspects, the various sounds present in the studied area and its surroundings, interrelate with others that contribute to the permanence and duration of the tribe that attends the place and contribute to form the identity of the beach. Download paper
In this poetic presentation, I&I give voice to the ways in which new urban tribes, or youthnicities, shaping in / on the game of street-soccer in different parts of the Netherlands, unwork themselves. Our story consists of two distinguishable but not separate tales. The first tells the lie of playing as musicking, a game in which the riddles of multiculturalism are both spoken and unspoken. The second explores the myth of the unworking of the academic I/eye through listening. By playing street-soccer and thus becoming as part of this youthnicity, the I/eye starts to put itself under erasure and learns to listen. By giving voice to these experiences, I&I practice the conviviality of the street in which a ‘we’ cannot be spoken of, but can be a praxis and an ethos. Download paper
How can we listen to the atmospheric existence of the contemporary world? In asking such question I intend to introduce the notion of ambiance in the field of sonic studies. My aim is to focus on the overall salience of ambient sound and to better understand how it infuses and pervades everyday urban experience. The world of social sciences increasingly enters into resonance with the art world to contribute to a socio-aesthetic of the sonic world which is still in its very early stages. By listening to social life we may in fact unveil a whole sensory atmosphere, just waiting to be heard, with its rhythms and intensities, vibrations and pulsations, resonance and discordance. The aim is not so much to categorize attitudes or represent phenomena as to describe atmospheres and allow sensations to emerge. Sound sets the tone for situations and territories, without contenting itself with focused listening. If the aim is to develop our faculty for listening to ambiant sonorities the price to pay is de-focusing. What is therefore at stake are the fringes and margins of the sonic world, and what lends it consistency.
This presentation explores ideas of a Sonic Public, proposing that sounds invisible mobility makes accessible, thinkabe and sensable, different and pluralized notions of publicness. The ephemeral and passing nature of sound, its unreliable and uncontrollable spirit, does not deform itself into the functional architecture of place and civic purpose but proposes formless and invisible alternatives. It creates the public as sonic possible worlds, plural and colliding, performing the city in a playful antagonism of private sonic life-worlds, that meet in passing, at moments of coincidence, to create not one appreciable entirety but fragmented possibilities. The sonic city is a possible timespace environment, whose actuality is not a matter of truth and untruth, but of sonic fictions: personal narrations that realize the invisible and conjure up the inaudible, rather than settle on what can be seen collectively.
Sound Art as Public Art does neither insert itself nor superimpose itself onto this timespace environment but participates in its production. Thus it makes apparent the frames, edges and boundaries of what is considered the actual place, and implodes the singularity of that perception. Its ethics lies at once within the profession of art: to produce a good work of art; as well as in a participatory production of place: to make us listen and see the invisible dynamic of the world in whose mobile depth the visibility of the city, its architectural, political and social actuality, is produced from sonic possibilities, whose audibility and inaudibility in turn are the parameters of what that city is and what it will become.
This invisible Public Art reminds us that public is not a visual concept, a permanent institution and infrastructure, but a participatory and transitory practice. It leads us back to the production rather than the perception of publicness and opens the monumental, permanent and fixed notion of civic place to the sonic possibility of civic performance, in whose openness we as listeners open ourselves to reach and access our own possibilities.
Sound supports a dynamic relationality between self and surrounding, imparting generative instances of contact and belonging, along with interruption and negotiation. From echoes passing across a given space to vibrations underfoot, disturbances from the neighbor to recollections of disappeared voices, this intense relationality can be appreciated as exceeding the sightlines of the spatial imagination, and the limits of the single body, to support alternative notions of shared space – of meeting the other.
I'm interested to chart out an acoustics of sharing by focusing on overhearing – experiences of hearing more than should be heard. This will lead to reflections on multiplicity and urban experience, and how listening may operate to support a sociality of not only intimacy and mutuality, but also affective intensity and disagreement. At stake is a concern for how overhearing may foster means for contending with the dynamics of global life today.
Created from field recordings, Biding and Unseen is inspired by urban environments. The sound material in Biding and Unseen was micro-processed via granular synthesis from material initially containing sounds of the city. Granular synthesis emptied out the representative aspect of the recording, forming an abstracted texture characterized by a plurality of microscopic events, coalescing in time-stretched patterns.
As a discovered atmosphere Biding and Unseen makes it possible to hear traces of the physical environment that are otherwise hidden within everyday city life. The visual aspect of Biding and Unseen features the Hudson River in New York City. The visual representation of the river gestures toward the natural environment, the presence of which is unobserved in day-to-day human life, yet is ever-present and biding within the physical makeup of the city.
City-Soundings is a collaborative composition in which a variety of cityscapes were recorded by several composers in different countries and were collectively assembled into a unique composition. Each participating artist (14 artists from 9 countries, including us) was asked to record and upload three soundscapes that represent the best his/her vision of the city where she/he lives.
We asked do record several types of sounds:
The sounds could be recorded indoors or outdoors and could include the voice of the composer (his/her language) or voices inherent to the environment.
After the bank of sounds was completed, we have asked each artist to compose and upload one or several short fragments using all the sounds previously uploaded.
In the last stage of the process, from which the final composition emerged, each participant modified the piece in the predetermined order using all sound materials previously uploaded. According to the order determined by 14 randomly chosen numbers, the composition circulated from one composer to the next. Each was able to modify the previous version of the piece and/or added a short new portion to it. In this final stage composers could use any techniques of electroacoustic composition to work on the piece. The piece was completed after the last artist contributed his modification. This work not only reflects and combines several compositional styles, but also represents a mosaic of sonic representations of urban landscapes brought by all participating artists.
List of participating artists:
Jardin de combustibles is an acousmatic piece alterning between fast and slow, agitated and calm, like the alterning phases of work and rest. Some of the main action concerns construction site sounds with the sound of machinery digging ground in the city. The inspiration for this piece is an experimental movie presenting a chain reaction with everyday life objects and chemically reactive subtances (Der Laufe der Dinge, by Fischli and Weiss, 1987)
In October/November 2013 I created a site-determined 8-channel sound installation for the two reverberant rooms of the Q-02 Workspace for Experimental Music and Sound Art in Brussels, Belgium. The work in Brussels featured pitched, slowly shifting layers of electronic feedbacks and more subtle, delicate and articulated sonic details, primarily generated from a personal archive of recorded manipulated objects that I have been collecting for the past 25 years. It was conceived as a memory palace, using the method of loci technique to recall yet another (third) room, situated in another urban space and place, and moment.
The room of my memory is located on the third floor of a vast and vacant warehouse in Queens in New York City, adjacent to the rail yards and multiple rail lines of Hunter’s Point. Highly reverberant and acoustically idiosyncratic, its high ceilings and reflective concrete surfaces take in the sounds of the passing trains through open windows, amplifying them to a volume that is surprisingly, and nearly alarmingly loud. In June 2011, I spent a week in this room, listening and recording, and then composing and performing a sonic response to what I heard: a slowly shifting field of live-generated feedbacks, glissandi and drones, augmented by unpredictable acoustic entries generated by trains, birds and automobile engines, all resonating profoundly in the room. To this I added my own performative interventions on live –processed electronic accordion. Sounds moved from density and stillness, to moments of gap and rift, disappearances and misfirings.
Brussels and Hunters Point, Queens now exist at Invisible Places in a single physical space – and thus are neither compositionally nor acoustically isolated from each other. Their real-time (though synthetic) sonic interaction enable shifting and sometimes startling juxtapositions to take place throughout the duration of the work. Circumstance and being meet, one place after another.
My focus has been to articulate and build multiple and interdependent compositional structures and systems emphasizing tenuous states, relationships between object, site, gesture and meaning, and potential for entropy as a compositional tool. With sound, I investigate tensions between the real and the ephemeral, and slippages between phenomenological experience and memory into the poetic uncanny.
Pendlerdrøm (or "Commuterdream") is a soundscape composition that recreates a commuter's trip home from the Central Train Station in Copenhagen. At two points, one in the station and the other on the train, the commuter lapses into a daydream in which the sounds that were only half heard in the station return to reveal their musical qualities. It is hoped that the next day the commuter will hear the musicality of the station's soundscape in a different manner as a result of the dream; the rest of us may discover the very same aspects the second time we hear the work.
Pendlerdrøm is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD Islands, and the SKRAEP double CD Pendler.
Kaleidoscope Music was originally composed as the audio component to the audiovisual installation Kaleidoscope Wallpaper, a collaboration between me and my friend the Shanghai-based artist Chen Hangfeng. It was originally exhibited at the Today Art Museum in Beijing in a custom built hexagonal room. Hangfeng built custom kaleidoscopes and fitted them to two closed circuit security cameras positioned inside and outside of the gallery. Next to these I hung two microphones, and composed an algorithmic, real-time audio processing system that attempted to mirror the way a kaleidoscope functions, fracturing and reconfiguring the sounds of daily life into something unexpected and beautiful. No additional sounds are added to the original signal; harmonies are built from the existing frequencies of the input sound by use of a bank of narrow bandpass filters. Usually when I present this work, I incorporate either a life audio signal from the nearby environment or a field recording taken from the same site at an earlier time. For this presentation, I have used two field recordings I made while hiking around Hong Kong's Lamma Island in July 2012.
"Interlude" is a multi-channel audio work created from recordings made in a tunnel underneath a busy road in Glasgow. The tunnel runs parallel to a river, and perpendicular to the road above, both of which present bounded, directional fields of flow. The tunnel itself invites a passage through – as one enters the darkness, the light from the other end offers an irresistible draw, and the path which the stone structure encloses has its own sense of directionality. However, the acoustic qualities of the tunnel belie these linear spatialities: the acoustic reflections are everywhere – a broad, multi-directional field of sonic feedback, rounding out the traffic sounds from above; exploding the linear passage of footsteps and voices; distancing and smoothing the flow of the river – now out of sight – into a rush of dampened white noise that hovers in the darkness.
Sonically, then, there is something of a momentary pause in the flow of the surroundings when in the depths of the tunnel, aided by the darkness that envelopes and expands the field of experience. Working within this “pause-space” the work draws upon the resonances, reflections and surface textures of the arched structure that houses this space, extending the pause into a focussed exploration. This exploration includes listening to the acoustic activations of the space as bodies pass through it; tracing the scuttling sounds of leaves and litter blown through the tunnel by gusts of wind; extracting sonic materials from the intricate details of this built environment; and actively playing the space, sounding out its resonances via instrumental means.
Taking up the invitation presented by the sonic qualities of this environment to wait a moment – suspending progressive motion, absorbing the potentiality of the darkness that lies beneath the curved ceiling – fuels a revealing of the many sonic layers that may be encountered here. In the shadows of the tunnel, this both creates knowledge of the place and feeds the imagination, consequently generating both a sense of emplacement and an offering, or opening up, of the possibility of a coinciding dream-space. Indeed, in dwelling here, the wandering mind follows the trails of the music of this space – its potentiality, or immensity (Bachelard) forming, in this moment, “the movement of motionless man” (Bachelard, 1994).
The experience of grasping hold of the momentary lull felt as one walks through the tunnel, and lingering in its spatio-temporal world through dwelling and daydream, finds resonance in Yi-Fu Tuan’s notion of place as pause, elucidated in his suggestion that “each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place” (Tuan, 1977). The potential of the acoustic qualities of an environment to draw such a pause-space in the flows and directionalities of urban space is an important aspect of our auditory life in the places we build and inhabit. In creating this work I was concerned with exploring how these attributes of pause/flow and both physical and imagined spaces can contribute to a sense of place.
Superfund is a work I began in the winter and spring 2011, two years into working in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn NY. The origins of this piece predate and inspire my short album on Flaming Pines, Rivers Home: Gowanus Canal. The title of this work refers directly to the canal's Superfund designation by the EPA, which occurred while I worked there.
The work takes a wide, impressionistic view of the landscape, with field recordings taken as near as possible to the canal forming the canvas of the piece. Added to this are materials sourced from analog and hybrid synthesizers and prepared bass guitar.
The Gowanus is firstly an industrial space, a purpose-built landscape, surrounded by shifting neighborhood characteristics: the edge of gentrification equidistant from mid 20th century public housing developments, abandoned buildings, active business operations, and the canal’s clean up crew. As it’s own psychogeography changed around me, what is to most a transitory space became to me more static and real as everything else seemed to move around it.
This piece explores the idea of sound romances (1) and aural memories that connect us to a specific time and place in our lives. Changing soundscapes can tell us a lot about the history of a place and how it is has changed over time. The sounds may have changed due to industrial engineering and economic developments. As composers we can create virtual soundscapes that can document the sounds of the past and recreate it. We can use the medium of Electroacoustic music to express the importance of changing soundscapes through the creative use of field recordings and spoken word. It is interesting to see what sounds people remember from their past. Why do they remember certain sounds more than others? Is it because they are disturbing? Is it because certain sounds are associated with a particular feeling from a specific time and place?
This composition brings together elements of soundscape composition, spoken word and electroacoustic techniques within an 8-channel speaker setup.
1) Sound Romances: Any past or disappearing sound remembered nostalgically, particularly when idealized or otherwise given special importance. Whereas new sounds are often experienced as sound phobias, old or past sounds are often elevated to the category of sound romances in memory.
Spoken Word: Tiernan Martin
In the Information and Communication Technology era we are living in, it is interesting to focus on the last paradigm that has influenced the way cities have grown: the car. The social and economic boom of the late fifties radically changed the way western citizens experienced cities. Suburbs grew along the roads that were connecting urban nodes. Cities were changing: the importance of communicating the products that were sold inside the buildings facing the roads was more important than the buildings themselves. Urban sprawl is the result of those days. One of the most important issues that had to be solved in that historical and social context was how to explain the sense of the places the citizens were living in and to develop the tools to do that. In those years, revolutionary theories and seminal books were written by a new generation of urban theory researchers. The most important were MIT professor Kevin Lynch and his The Image of the City and architectural critic Reyner Banham and his Theory and Design in the First Age Machine. During the summer of 1968 Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown analyzed the commercial strip of Las Vegas without any prejudice and with a different perspective. They considered American urban sprawl and its relationship with a car driver’s point of view. The results of their conjectures and researches was Learning from Las Vegas, one of the most influential books of those years. The year before, Lynch’s student Michael Southworth started soundscape studies during his Master in City Planning at MIT, analyzing central Boston’ sonic environment. But it was only in 1970 that Murray Schafer started developing the founding theory of soundscape studies.
Since the new ICT paradigm has not yet materially transformed the cities we are living in, we think it is still important to speculate on the sense of places influenced by cars. Our case-study is the straight road that connects Riva and Arco, two Italian towns in the Alps. We have produced an audio-video survey, which is composed by two video outputs, the left and the right sides of the road, and by two mono audio tracks. Each track is the superposition of two layers. The first one is the noise of the road and of the car that is going through it. There is neither attack nor decay. It is an acoustic straight line: the sonic answer to the straight car-city. The second layer is a survey of the interior of the buildings that are facing the road. The private and semiprivate soundscape is monotonous, the music that comes out of bars and malls’ speakers is always the same, people seem scared to talk. The video was distorted by a fish eye lens so that the strip becomes a loop. The car is stuck in a fragment of a fractal city.
One of the ways we position ourselves as superior to all other species is through our complex language use, yet current scientific research tells us that some animals and in particular very common birds that live in cities have both the cognitive and biological capacity for complex language akin to our own. This field recording documents the voices of a group of seagulls and pigeons outside the State Library of Victoria in central Melbourne. A recording of a falcon plays sporadically from the roof of the library, and is intended to scare away both groups of birds. This is a popular place for eating lunch and meeting after work. As they call and swoop, chatter and mutter, squabble and shove and scavenge for scraps, the voices of the birds mix readily with the sounds and voices of human activity.
The space heard in this piece is remote, but concrete. It is real, but it is also constructed. The listener might feel inside or outside, centred or peripheral, present or distant. The construction of this space is also the construction of a narrative, documental, both real and fictitious, where the narrator (the composer, the listener) walks along with the sound, but also creates perspective. Apartment in Lisbon (narrator is present) is an exploration of an aural architecture to find the resonances of the everyday processes.
The piece was composed from recordings made in a house in the centre of Lisbon in the summer of 2013.
The sound installation consists of various newspapers of different dialects, which areilluminated from within. They signifythe means of visually recordingthe not so transparentmedia. Contemporary media is overloaded with the visual noise of our lives but the noise we experience everyday is the one that toils inside of us. At a time in our culture where everything is so easily made visible and transparent we often find the mediums that we choose to express ourselves are the ones making us invisible. By choosing to use a multitude of languages spoken in Mumbai (India) I have tried to erase meaning making systems, which could be comprehended by some people but totally irrelevant to others. This socio-linguistic overlap is the noise of our culture – our acoustic ecology – the excess material left over after our cultural conditioning has churned it out as a surplus. All of the mechanisms for interrupting transmission and creating interference make noise and are as much a part of the installations content as the meaning of the messages conveyed. This zone of indistinction is not the negation of language but rather its field of emergence – not its unstructured opposite, but the event of its coming into being. The installationtries to highlight this unrest of our daily acoustic ecology through an immersive experience.
Noise, in its metaphysical guises, is often posted as the not-yet-meaningful or as that which lies beyond or below meaning; a whirlpool of chaos from which sense emerges. Nor can noise be distinguished as unwanted sound, since this posits it as a purely auditory phenomenon. To refer to noise as excess does not require it to come ‘from the outside’, a radical exteriority, nor does it come from a binarism between inside/outside. Rather, noise exists structurally or relationally; its presence relies on an assemblage of perceivers, generators, borders, vibrations, ideas, geographies, spaces and materials. Noise does in fact create a meaning, first, because the interruption of a message signifies the interdiction of the transmitted meaning, signifies censorship and rarity; and second, because the very absence of meaning in pure noise or in the meaningless repetition of a message, by unchanneling auditory sensations frees the listener’s imagination.
Concrete Sonorities (2013) was composed with field recordings made in London and Dublin in 2012, using a variety of recording techniques. Most recordings have been left untreated, except for some, which have been pitch-shifted to draw out latent harmonic content.
This composition explores the natural sound colour and dynamic of the locations as compositional elements, creating a dynamic and imaginative interplay between various aspects, a sense of incident and momentum, which moves it away from pure documentary, and creates a set of relationships that engage the listener in a narrative flow, a sonic experience of cinematic dimensions, a tactile trawl of shifting perspectives, moving between forensic scrutiny and widescreen depths.
The work is about creating a space in which to connect with the sonic environment in a considered and meaningful way. Hearing tends to be relegated to a poor relation to seeing in a visually overloaded world, yet it is something we are surrounded by all the time, and cannot shut off from, even in sleep. Unlike our eyes, we can’t close our ears. My work encourages focused listening and a more active and engaged relationship with the sonic environment.
One day in the Fall of 2011 I wrote a fairy tale entitled The Girl, the Witch, and the Magic Bird. Ultimately it is about the power of the voice, the poisonous influence of the Muzak Corporation (among others) and the magic of listening and music making.
It seemed obvious that my two grandsons Caleb and Caius (10 and 7 at that time) should be the readers of this story. To my great delight they took up the challenge and surprised me with their hard work, endurance, and their lovely ways of speaking and reading. To read such a long story at their age and have it recorded by a very picky ‘Oma’ who wants to have every word and syllable annunciated as clearly as possible, is not an easy task. I was delighted by the creative energies that emerged in all of us during the process and the end result was a series of good recordings from which to choose for this piece.
The girl’s voice is that of my daughter, the boys’ mother, recorded when she was a little girl. Her voice is featured in an earlier piece of mine entitled Moments of Laughter (1988) and reappears here.
The recording of the loon was made by members of the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, in the early 1970s and is used here by permission.
Once Upon a Time was commissioned by the Western Front in Vancouver for a whole-night event in January 2012, entitled Circle of Sleep, the concept of which was conceived by music curator DB Boyko. On the night of the premiere event, the audience reclined comfortably on floor mats with blankets and pillows listening to this bedtime story, perhaps dozing off, relaxed and calmed by the end of it, ready to hear and dream of more sounds to come throughout the night.
Radial Transference pretends to understand the possible relationship between two distinct spaces. These spaces, recorded using a field recording technique, with transfers and contamination between them on an atomic scale, reflect conflict, causality and turbulence. Making reference to the spaces’ characters and with an atomistic approach to the proliferation of frequencies that could resemble an electrical activity that crosses the entire space, Radial Transference articulates as a transitive reality in a multi-time scale.
The piece generates a compositional sound universe as an entropic dynamic locus of a new ontology. Hugo Paquete explores granular projections of sound in order to build small phrases that articulate and turn over the piece with rhythmic variations and noise. These variations are sometimes operated until a threshold signal that is processing the sound is lost and turns into another sound form that apparently does not associate with reality. Processes of multiple pitch variations, amplitudes, and frequencies of sound build the idea of atomistic electricity and the activity of small scales that relate geometrically and recreate frequencies that cover the nexus in entropic chaos.
Friction explores the sounds and structures that are produced when a secondary force is applied to an object in physical contact with another; overcoming the force of friction and creating motion, heat, and sound in the process. The work is focused on the buildup of this secondary force and the ultimate release of energy as the force of friction is exceeded. The sonic material in the work is based on real-world sounds produced during this physical process.
In the Autumn of 2011, the world witnessed the rise and fall of the one of the largest global protests ever recorded with the Occupy Wall Street Movement – echoing as 750 + simultaneous, solidarity actions across 80 + countries. The recording and distribution of sounds and sights from the various Occupy encampments connected otherwise disparate protests across global cities, and led to a worldwide rethinking of urban space, economics, and planning. Less known are the ways in which the wide distribution of the sounds and visuals of Occupy also led to heavy state scrutiny and surveillance, wherein the same recordings and recording technologies that fomented Occupy protests were repurposed for state repression.
This audio works presentation offers rare sound recordings of police dispatches from October 2011, detailing the real-time, police eviction of one prominent Occupy encampment, Occupy Oakland, in the state of California in the United States. The presentation builds on the concept of "the police as amplifiers," offered in Policing the Crisis (1978) by Stuart Hall, et al. The curator theorizes that listening to the sound of the police might serve to "amplify" otherwise silenced economic and political crises in urban space, and allow for a consideration of how such crises may be managed (or heard) differently.
Particular to the case study of the eviction of Occupy Oakland, this sonic presentation might be listened to "on repeat" as a way to understand approaches to policing of mass protest and mass crises in the contemporary moment. The majority of the large Occupy encampments globally were similarly evicted in the weeks following the eviction of Occupy Oakland in 2011, and led to inquiries and later reports that local, state, and federal justice agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, collectively coordinated the policing and repression of Occupy protests.
The presentation curator, Dr. Jeb Middlebrook, is a DJ and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles. Jeb was a participant in Occupy Los Angeles, and was part of a national network of Occupy organizers linking issues of racial and economic justice. His current book manuscript, Prison Music: Containment, Escape, and the Sound of America, explores the aesthetics and politics of incarceration in U.S. society from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, through listening to the sound of prison in popular culture, policy, and protest.
Oil and Gas is a sonic journey through desert landscapes of fossil fuel production, composed of field recordings made in the shale gas fields of the San Juan and Green River Basins of Colorado and New Mexico. These lands are centers of fossil-fuel extraction for the present and the near future, and are positioned as strategic energy resource for energy security for the United States.
A wilderness filed with machines, vast areas of remote high desert territory are spiderwebbed with access roads, pipelines, wellheads and harvesting systems. All this industrial infrastructure is what makes possible an energy-use profile unprecedented in the history of life on earth. We turn our ears toward this infrastructure, to better understand ourselves within the world.
This work is part of a series of sonic examinations of hidden works and underpinnings of the Industrial Antrhropocene era.
Improvised vocals and percussion excerpt by Friends of The TANK: Max Bernstein, Mark McCoin, Jeremiah Moore, Bruce Odland.
This fixed media piece is based on the Wu Xia culture in China, made known to the world through Kung Fu stories. In this piece, the composer incorporates sounds of traditional Chinese instruments and synthesized samples. The piece is made in pure data, and edited in logic pro. The spatial effects indicate the free and uninhibited movements of Xia Ke – a master of Kung Fu and representative of justice who rebelled against the imperial court. Wu Xia reflects the idea of individual heroism and the pursuit of freedom.
The piece and performance setup lends itself to performance in urban spaces – city parks, gardens, or similar. For Invisible Places Sounding Cities, the performance will be adapted to the specific site.
This piece is a studio version of a performance using a mobile app SonicTaiji created by the author. The app sonifies movements of the performer in 24 styles of Taiji in real-time. Each sound is closely related to its corresponding gestures and the meaning of each gesture. This piece can help Taiji performers better achieve meditation and learn Taiji performance using recording samples and various synthesis techniques such as phase vocoder, comb filter, convolution, high/low pass filter, reverb, etc.
The piece and performance setup lends itself to performance in urban spaces—city parks, gardens, or similar. For Invisible Places Sounding Cities, the performance will be adapted to the specific site.
Jordan Lacey is a sound-artist, musician, sonic researcher and sessional lecturer based in SIAL Sound Studios at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. His research concentrates on the recomposition of everyday urban sounds with site-specific soundscape installations that transform the sonic environments of urban spaces. His installations and performances reintroduce synthesized site-specific sounds into the spaces from which the sounds were recorded, to create real-time soundscape compositions. The stereophonic sound work Noise Meditations is composed with sound material created for two recent public urban soundscape installations completed by Jordan. The first Revoicing the Striated Soundscapewas a City of Melbourne Public Art commissioned sound-work installed in a Melbourne laneway fromJune – November 2012. Four speakers encased inside readymade air-conditioning units networked to a computer system played eight soundscape compositions, which merged with the soundscapes of a laneway to create diverse listening experiences for those transitioning the space. The second Subterranean Voiceswas commissioned by the 2013 Liquid Architecture 14th National Festival of Sound Art. The work was a series of live performances in The Trench; a cavernous concrete cuboid situated beneath Melbourne's Federation Square hidden between platforms 12 and 13 of Flinders Street station. Over two days Jordan performed 12 iterations of a 20-minute soundscape composition that integrated the existing sonic site conditions of passing trains, platform announcements and gurgling pipes stretching along the innards of the Trench. All sounds included in the work are resynthesized site-specific sounds that were recorded in the locations where the installations were eventually realized, and were amongst the synthesized sounds reintroduced into the sites. Noise Meditations emphasizes in particular the similar sonic characteristics of a stationary train and an operating air-conditioner, which is suggestive of the ubiquity of low-frequency broadband sounds that transverse urban environments. The piece explores the potential of sound-art to respond to low-frequency sounds, typically referred to as noisy or “lo-fi”, in urban spaces by recomposing these ubiquitous sounds into diverse and immersive listening experiences. Also emphasized in the work is the transformation of sound signals, including train horns and PA announcements, which signify the rhythmic cycles of everyday social organisation; such transformations aim to evoke imaginative relationships with the urban by reconstructing sounds that typically signify banal repetitions in the social spaces of the everyday. In Noise Meditations studio-synthesized urban sounds are recomposed as a work of urban fantasy in which the listener enters a sonic space simultaneously familiar and alien, encouraging a reassembling of relationships with oft-encountered sounds. The work suggests the meditative potential inherent in what are typically referred to as noises, while maintaining the capacity of urban noise to exhilarate the senses. Noise Meditations played as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia from November 2013 to March 2014.
Transient Lapse is a site-specific sound installation created for a pedestrian and cyclist tunnel in The Hague. The work introduces a shifting aural topography based on the daily rhythms and the resonant architecture of the location.
The sound changes over the 24-hour cycle, interacting with the existing soundscape and the movements of passers-by. The result is an added aural layer which is perceived as not having physical origin and belong to the site. As an unmarked sound intervention in the threshold of perception, the work aims to induce a switch of focus, a momentary lapse in the urban transit experience. The piece invites to be discovered, to maybe stop and listen.
The project draws inspiration from the notion of ‘Rhythmanalisis’ proposed by Henri Lefebvre, on which he outlined a method for analyzing the rhythms of urban spaces and their effects on the inhabitants of those spaces. The spatial behaviour of the sound and the overall temporal structure are based on the cyclical rhythms of the site, accompanying, contrasting and enhancing them.
The sound is generated in real-time, controlled with a software tool written specially for the project. The piece is based on scored algorithmic processes linked to a clock. This compositional approach makes the sound to be similar every day/night at each of the 24-hours, with variations in spatial and timing aspects due to the algorithmic behaviour. The source audio materials consist of streams of computer-generated synthetic sound based on an analysis of the resonant characteristics of the tunnel and additional materials based on transformed recordings made through large structures on site. Each of the eight independent synchronized audio channels are spatialized through purpose-built loudspeakers disguised across the 90 meter length of the tunnel.
The experience of being there and the subtleties which are at the core of this work are not possible to be conveyed through any recording. The piece which accompanies this documentation of the intervention features a layered collage of excerpts taken from a set of durational stereo recordings made over a 24-hour period. All recordings were made at the same fixed positions inside the tunnel with the two microphones spaced around 30 meter.
The composition "Studio per un paesaggio" (four tablets and electronics, 2013) was born from a project realized in 2013 and promoted by the Municipality of Pordenone (Italy) and Digital Ensemble. This project – called "Il soundscape della città di Pordenone" – aimed to valorize the urban soundscape through a series of interdisciplinary initiatives that involved aspects ranging from acoustic ecology to sound art, starting from the field recordings and leading to a soundscape composition. The steps were retraced in the live performance by the action of four musicians – through their gestures defined in a score – who reproduced and processed sounds to be placed in a new listening space, gradually rebuilding the urban geography with real and imaginary landscapes.
This recording made in 2011, crosses the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam known locally as De Zwaan. Documenting my physical intervention in the environment, my small digital recorder is held close to the canopy of my umbrella as the heavy rain creates a sound similar to the scratches on vinyl records, this is accompanied by the thundering beat of a pile driver from a nearby construction site.
The journey starts as I cross from the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas, ending with the distorted rumbles of overhead trams as the input peak indicator flashes and I take shelter from the weather under the bridge on the north side of the river.
Hearken the Sound is a simple collage of field recordings taken from Detroit, Michigan. Detroit is home to an unprecedented noise pollution problem that began in 2011. Originating out of Zug Island, a highly secured industrialised island on the border of America and Canada. The 'Windsor Hum' is a persistent and invasive low-frequency (30-40htz) humming noise which is only audible to certain people.
Just Too Many Words was born from the excess of words in the TV news and comments. How and to such extent it is worth anaesthetising yourself to keep away from the streams of words and at the same time not to miss anything important from the current moment?
None of the events during the day I was recording the materials for my piece, had any importance for this world’s fate, there were an ordinary journalist food, a matter to fill in an air time, thus, an empty talking only. I was not under any historical pressure, so I could handle unceremonious with the recorded materials.
In this piece there is no place for a silence – from the ‘ideological’ (subject of the piece) but also technical reasons. The only moments of silence show that silence is also dirty, seems to be a second-hand product, which discloses an information noise pollution of each piece of environment. For me the only reasonable compositional procedure not to bore the audience was to build the whole piece from the planes of different textures, referring to different ways of speech perception.
The soundscape piece La città addormentata works with subtly treated recordings of a September night in Venice. In the nighttime, the city falls almost into complete silence: The canals are calm and one feels the absence of the wind. As always, there are no cars and even near the Piazza San Marco there is hardly any sign of nightlife. During the day, the bustling of the crowds limits the listening radius to one's immediate surroundings while at night, even quiet sounds can be heard across large distances in every direction. What dominates the night soundscape are the machines of the tourism industry: generators, air conditioning, refrigerators, washing machines, ATMs etc. They become elements of a massive „city machine“, populated only by rats and a few insects. As in absolute silence, one can hear his own nervous system and blood circulation. The silence of the night reveals the hidden organism of the city.
This work is a composition using the sound of the composer’s bloodstream as a sound source. We release extremely subtle sounds from inside our bodies which are hard to perceive. Although the sound is made by the body, it cannot be heard because of the limited audible range that a human being can hear.This work is a composition using the sound of the composer’s bloodstream as a sound source. The purpose of this work is to deconstruct and reconstruct the components of personal biological information via computing. These sounds were composed to express another reality beyond the boundary of the animate/inanimate.
This work is an electroacousitc composition created with the recordings of speaking clocks in various sites around the world. A speaking clock is a tool of sonification of "time", a phenomenon people cannot hear. It has various expressions of time depending on the country or region. In this work, the music mixes various expressions of time, based on the concept of "the expression of time perception". Through this work, I attempt to give listeners curious and unique feelings through the same sound experience depending on their cultural background.
To begin is to follow on from is a piece inspired by my fifteen day residency at Tobačna, the old tobacco factory in Ljubljana in Slovenia. The work marks an uncanny sonic territory through an iterative exploration of the liminal space of the factory. Different strands of voices, sounds and miniature compositions transmit glimpes of the location as the listener follows a series of paths, doorways, dead ends, trains, balancing between the frictions of imaginary, personal, collective, political, discursive, historical, social and poetic narratives of the present, the past and the future, the possible and the intangible.
To begin is to follow on from draws on material collected during soundwalks, workshops, interviews and in situ sonic and musical improvisations and is framed by the concept of dialogue as perception, of becoming rather than being in place. The piece was premiered on the 15th of January 2014 as part of "radioCona: REuse MESTO: REuseRADIO" and it was made possible with the support of CONA, CC Tobačna 001 / MGML.
Docklands Song is an audio piece created as part of an artwork/project called 'Field Trip', held in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. As part of an art residency at The Food Court, an old repurposed dining hall in Melbourne’s slightly desolate city Docklands precinct, I organised a field trip in which artists and members of the public undertook a nature survey of the area.
Two hundred years ago, the locale was a brilliant blue billabong fringed with pink flowers. It then became the city’s rubbish dump, and a working port. It was redeveloped around ten years ago, but people weren’t drawn to the windswept, mostly treeless, exposed results. The aim of this project was to re-examine a place that is emphatically human-made (but not popular with humans themselves) and see what else there is to find.
Participants collected samples of soil, weeds, stones and rubbish, answered questions about what living things were present in the area, mapped their journeys, scattered birdseed and recorded the results, took themselves ‘off-piste’ to conduct their own investigations, drew pictures and ate trail mix. The results were collated and displayed in an exhibition which incorporated the results of the public event and reflected on how nature and commerce operate in urban areas.
This sound piece, Docklands Song, formed part of the resulting exhibition. The piece consists of audio collected from the Docklands area – sparrows, the faint sound of construction, the wind whistling through the treeless concrete spaces. This is overlaid with sounds created from objects and samples collected by field trip participants from the immediate surrounds – pouring sand, bits of metal clinking together, pebbles rolling in a jar, a small bell tinkling, a chip packet rustling. Docklands Song forms an ad-hoc, multilayered interpretative soundscape of an inhospitable space which nonetheless hosts a plethora of non-human beings and unsanctioned/unplanned objects.
ЦДХ [Tse-de-ha] Space Inventory is an exploration around the memory of the of the urban experience. We recorded sounds that surround our daily lives.
Following an established route, in November 2013 we navigated the surroundings of ЦДХ (The Central House of Artists) and the adjacent Muzeon Park. The iconic enclave in central Moscow, Russia, houses among other things, a soviet-era sculpture park, a Chinese garden and a docked boat.
By walking through the space, we recorded the soundscape, but instead of capturing the audio indicators as they came, we filtered them: we named them. By doing so, we were adjusting them to our experience: what we heard was what we could name, and that is what was recorded in situ.
This resulted in an acoustic archive of words, an inventory of the soundscape, of a specific place and time. Yet the words, lexical preys, did not allow us to understand the minutia that make the soundscape special: how hard were the children laughing? how intense was the car sound? what was the man shouting? How did it feel when the helicopter flew over our heads? How hard was the wind blowing? Instead we have 'laughter, car, shout, helicopter, wind'. The sound deprived of its soul.
Half a year after the original recording, we revisited it, and transcribed it again, word by word. This second transcription distilled the original file even further, for the background sounds that may have given a hint or an indication of the quality of the sound, were gone. The resulting piece was cut and mounted into an acoustic collage, fragmented pieces of reality, much like our memory and sensory perceptions of that November day.
48Hz is an immersive imaginary soundscape of Belfast. A composition that uses field recordings from ‘X Marks the Spot’ as the ground material for a drone composition.
The composition attempts to unveil and present to the listener the inner world hidden in the drone of the telecommunication boxes.
Each drone, with a fundamental frequency close to 48Hz, is unique and presents different sonic characteristics. For this installation I have selected two of the boxes as the single material for the composition: Sunnyside Street and Lockview Road.
The field recordings were analyzed in order to determine the key frequencies from each drone. By applying narrow band-pass filters it was possible to subtract the ambient noise and isolate the drone.
The composition progresses from a more "objective" perspective towards a more "subjective" one. Firstly it introduces the original recordings. Then, each individual frequency composing the drone is presented through a partially random selection and accumulation algorithm.
X Marks the Spot by Matilde Meireles
X Marks the Spot is a web-archive, a slowly growing and playful map of Belfast assembled by tagging specific telecommunication boxes, only those emitting a drone (continuous hum).
The tagging process aims to engage people with the space around them, to understand how sound shapes our experience of the city.
By inviting other people to participate in the process, this activity is designed to spread throughout Belfast exploring alternative ways to relate with the urban environment and connect from A to B.
X Marks the Spot is also a curatorial project. Three artists were invited to explore different aspects and processes within the project. Miguel Negrão will show the first result, 48Hz.
Rift Patterns is all about the psychogeographical exploration of places and how they impact on our identity and feelings. Psychogeography has historically been associated with the exploration of our cities and the 'drift', and has been described by Joseph Hart as "a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities... just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape". In Rift Patterns we wanted to continue our drift from the city, into the country and into our inner world of thoughts and relationships explored through Adkins’ audio and video by Jason Payne.
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The conceptual sound piece Moscow Street Network is based on a map of the Moscow road network (showing only the main roads, which are in a radial-concentric configuration). Using the “ASCII generator 2” (© Jonathan Mathews, 2005–2011) software, the image was first converted into a text file in which all segments of the picture were represented by 32 characters from the ASCII character set (M, &, @, B, W, Q, 0, E, b, 8, Z, 9, 6, A, I, U, 2, o, z, n, 1, S, t, C, X, 7, x, c, v, i, : and .). “M” was assigned to black areas, “.” was assigned to white ones. The other characters represent different shades of grey depending on how much surface they cover:
The text was then fed into a programme developed by the author with Max/MSP in September 2013, the “ASCII controlled polysynth”. This programme automatically captures the number of lines in an ASCII text and generates a pure tone for each line, to which an individual pitch is assigned using an exponential function (the lowest line has a frequency of around 30–40 Hz, the highest around 12–13 kHz, and the frequencies of those in between increase exponentially). To evoke an illusion of spatial sound perception, every other voice is emitted on the left channel, whereas the rest can be heard on the right one. The software reads all the lines in the text simultaneously from left to right and modulates the amplitudes of the sine waves depending on the characters in the lines that represent them. The value of the amplitude is defined by the surface area covered by the individual characters – “M” has the highest amplitude, “.” the lowest. Played at slow speed, the resulting sound, continuous and fluctuating, creates an auditory impression of the road network.
Although the main roads of Moscow’s road network form the basis of the piece, it is not necessarily meant to allow the listener to hear the course of the streets. Rather, the aural appropriation of the structure of the street network, which actually follows technical, social, political and economic principles, reveals qualities that can almost be described as “musical”: it operates with single voices (originally the individual streets) that spread out, swell, move in parallel or counter to each other, cross each other, are led to a culminating point, shrink, vanish. Ideally, the piece will draw attention to the structural commonalities of artificial constructs of very different – in this case technical and aesthetic – provenances.
The piece reflects my emotions about a small coastal village somewhere in the Aegean Sea. It encloses my memories for the place and its people, developing linearly by combining ambient recordings and spoken stories from the village with folk music and abstract elements. Here, I am primarily interested in the dramaturgical structure in the long scale. The main concern is to move away from a non-differential abstract soundworld and to retain a cultural identity by guiding the listener through a journey of experiences to catharsis, though without having any metaphysical allusions. The piece received the 2010 Giga Hertz Award for Electronic Music at ZKM | Institute for Music & Acoustics, Germany.
"Extraite des limbes des flaques, des mares et des étangs, se déploie une biodiversité fantasmagorique. Baissez-vous, un peu plus bas, un peu plus près de la surface, et buvez le bouillon par les oreilles."
Originally commissioned by Silence Radio for the edition Hiver 2012 : In the end. Curated by Etienne Noiseau and Irvic d'Olivier (ACSR-Atelier de Création Sonore Radiophonique, Brussels).
Based on hydrophone and above water recordings made in ponds and subaquatic environments at multiple locations in Spain and Slovakia between 2007 and 2012.
unheard, out of earshot, indistinct, imperceptible, hushed, faint, low, infrasonic, muted, soft, muffled, murmured, quiet, whispered, muttered, mumbled, silent, soundless, still, noiseless, unclear, ultrasonic
[in]audible is a piece based on the exploration of hidden acoustic spaces. Departing from the notions of indirect listening and blind field recording, unconventional listening technologies are used to capture a variety of acoustic phenomena in the thresholds of perception. Magnetic fields, solid vibration, ultrasonic and underwater sound have been used as raw material in the composition, focusing on the spatiality, details and textural patterns of the recordings.
Originally created for FONair (UK) as a radio piece for headphones with a premiere broadcast in January 2013. New 8-channel version, Spring 2014. Source recordings made between 2008 and 2012 in Karlsruhe (Germany), Bratislava and Mala Fatra (Slovakia), Den Haag (The Netherlands), Catalonia and Madrid (Spain).
Offset explores the soundscape of a printing workshop, it travels inside the industrial and mechanical energy of rotary presses. Entirely composed from field recordings of two printing facilities in Grenoble and Paris (France) in 2011 and 2012, it deliberately mixes the documentary approach of a working place with the experimentations of the electroacoustic practice. Offset is constituted of a set of variations about the textures, rhythms, cycles and patterns created by the machines.
After several works dealing with natural soundscapes [such as ‘Without the Wolves’ (Entr'acte, 2011), which was composed from geophonic recordings of alpine environments] or urban public spaces [like ‘Midi-Minuit’, recorded and composed in Brussels (Silence Radio, 2010)], Offset was again the occasion to confront with industrial sources and the inherent ambiguity and complexity of such environments, of which the sounds are altogether violent and alienating, but can also be immediately and strangely musical. Listening and working on location, these industrial sounds had to be approached as both an acoustic and a social subject matter.
Once taken out of their social context, machine sounds and noises become equivocal: we can hear the actual printing devices, but with them some imaginary ‘monsters’ are playing a peculiar music, an unexpected by-product of the manufacturing process. Yet the musicality of these machine sounds is not only a matter of electroacoustic process, it also as something to do with a deeper cultural history, which has cultivated mechanical sound phantasies during the last hundred years or so. Thus the composition of Offset also had to be about taking into consideration distant and plural echoes of the Futurists, of industrial music, of Jean-Marc Vivenza or techno music, which could be heard within the machines themselves and which listening was not able to ‘reduce’ to a mechanical or acoustic fact.
Recorded and composed between 2011 and 2013, Offset has been published as a LP and digital release by doubtfulsounds and Universinternational. In 2013-2014 it has been nominated for Phonurghia Nova and the Quartz Musical Awards, and occasioned a complete re-arrangement as a quadriphonic composition designed for electroacoustic performance, which premiered at the Museum of modern art in Nantes, curated by #Cable at the end of 2013.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard was an active U.S. Navy shipyard from 1806 until 1966. At its peak in WWII it employed over 70,000 people 24 hours a day and covered over 200 acres. When it was decommissioned in 1966 New York City took over its development, and slowly over the next few decades transformed it into a modern industrial park with more than 200 businesses and employing over 5,000 people. Brooklyn Grange Farms operates a 65,000 square foot commercial farm on top of Building 3; Steiner Studios runs one of the largest film production studios outside of Los Angeles; and GMD Shipyard Corp. runs the upgraded dry-docks. There are numerous art studios scattered throughout the Yard, and Building 30, a two-story red brick stable house dating to the 1860’s, is a purpose-built haven of art studios, full of working artists from a wide range of disciplines.
The piece BROOKLYN NAVY YARD came together incredibly quickly. When multimedia artist Bruce Tovsky, who has a studio in Building 30, heard that Patrick McGinley, an Estonia-based sound artist friend, was passing through Brooklyn on a brief U.S. tour, he decided that they had to do something together at his studio. Patrick’s work is very much an exploration of site-specific sound and sound as definition of space, and this was the perfect urban subject; a sprawling 160-year-old Navy Yard undergoing a transformation into a modern industrial village on the Brooklyn waterfront. Bruce, a life-long phonographer, visual artist and filmmaker, has done several pieces that explore the visual and sonic resonances of urban spaces. He had long wanted to do a piece in and about the Yard and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity for an interesting collaboration. Due to their tight schedules, Bruce and Patrick planned to spend one day gathering material in the Yard, and to use the evening and the next day to prepare what they had captured. Then they would give a live performance in the studio that night. The day before the event, Bruce led Patrick through the Yard and he chose specific places to sonically document, using both standard microphones and large contact mics he placed on structural elements. Bruce set up his camera positions, sometimes including Patrick recording or listening, sometimes not. They had the freedom to roam as they pleased – the Navy Yard is very supportive of their many resident artists and graciously gave access. The night of the live performance, Patrick mixed sounds drawn from the previous day’s recordings with explorations of the studio itself for sound potential. He had positioned several contact mics on various objects in the studio space, and used bowing and other techniques to haunting effect: the groans and wails echoed the sounds created by the huge cranes used in the Yard’s dry-dock facilities. As Patrick was performing, Bruce projected his edit of the prior days footage on a large 6’ x 8’ screen. Bruce and his artist / composer wife Tracy Wuischpard have been curating shows at their studio 106BLDG30 for over a decade, and they had a full house on this night. As they usually do after an event, they had a salon-style discussion with the artists after the performance, and this evening’s was particularly rich and informative due to Patrick’s passion for his work. Bruce documents all of the events in the space, and uses a custom-made binaural head to capture the sound of the room. For this presentation of Brooklyn Navy Yard Bruce has combined the edited video piece with the live audio - presented in quad surround – to create this standalone work, an encapsulation of the effort to capture a slice of this historic, fascinating space.
Three Cities is part of the Three Cities Project, a multimedia research project undertaken by members of SERG (Sound Emporium Research Group) – Suk-Jun Kim, Pete Stollery and Ross Whyte – at the Department of Music, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. The project involves contribution, participation and experience from the three cities of Aberdeen, Bergen and St Petersburg with the main aim being for participants (composers, listeners, general public) to learn about and engage with audio culture from each city through engagement with sound recordings at the three locations.
Two central ideas drive the project. The first is Edward Casey’s phenomenon of “re-implacement” within visual representations of place and his three distinctions of:
The second is Suk-Jun Kim’s three “engagements with place” when creating soundscape composition:
Sounds were captured from visits made to the three cities but only Kim and Whyte visited Bergen. They had a different engagement with the sounds of Bergen from Stollery; similarly Stollery and Whyte visited St Petersburg without Kim. Future research, following the creation of works using the sounds recorded in the cities will investigate how these different “engagements” affect compositional approaches.
On listening to the sounds recorded in each of the three cities, it became apparent that most fell neatly into Bernie Krause’s three categorisations of sound:
I chose to use these sounds in clusters to maintain a certain integrity and the piece opens with stretched pedestrian crossing signals from each of the three cities followed by a section of minimally transformed field recordings of birds; then traffic sounds, which both articulate gesturally (cars) and also operate in a textural context (underground train).
This leads to the second section of the piece, after a pause, made up entirely from the sound of the Vesta passenger ferry, a soundmark of the city. The piece draws to a close with a coda made up of sounds from all three groups, from all three cities.
Three Cities was commissioned by the sound festival and first performed in Sheffield in February 2013
Omelia al vento (litterally 'Homily in the wind') was conceived in the wake of the Ass.Cult. Vacuamoenia project to aesthetically revalue - in particular from the point of view of the sound as a transmediatic sense – places that have been abandoned for various reasons in the Sicilian ruralscapes.
The idea of those years, developed by the Fascist regime, expressed a conviction that it was possible to build a city life "on board", decentralizing the corporation of farmers and inserting it in a context in which it was sufficient a school, a military police station, a church and a few other services to fulfill the needs of life.
This decentralization had as purpose to resize the cultivations of the campaigns (from extensive to intensive), to facilitate the work and the rest of the peasants who were no longer forced, so to move daily from the countries to the lands, but the project soon failed because of its isolationism and dissolved completely during the years of economic italian miracle and urban intensification of the 60s.
It is in this regard that the Borghi (italian name of these villages) pose a question: if it is true that few services for a few people to a single category in the middle of nowhere necessarily lead to abandonment (and smell like constriction), is it possible that a different attitude, an infinite mole of information, services, need (more or less induced), places of aggregation and inside (overcrowding) and external ( growth of cities) expansion is as such a value?
The answer is in Vacuamoenia work. The idea of using sounds of the Borghi through digital and acoustic technologies daughters of the city while it does not solve the problem in a social and in an anthropological way, on the other hand serve to create an intellectual friction, a link between two extremes, which inevitably should be considered. The act of recording and the act of manipulation and formal construction insert "abandonment" sound material in a performance driven both by the wind and by the binary code, from wood to personal computers.
The work we do by using the medium of the composition of soundscapes , wants to be a re-built as citizens of the "life of an urban centralization when there is no more life", an atmosphere of abandonment that serves as a reference for possible "positive" high quality atmospheres in our urban living.
Bell Tower of False Creek is a multimedia research/creation project investigating the rich history and complex sociocultural dynamics in play in the area surrounding Burrard Bridge, which spans False Creek in Vancouver, BC, Canada. For Invisible Places 2014 I am presenting the first component of this project: an 11 minute stereo “soundwalk composition” exploring the acoustic profile of a particularly sonorous pot hole next to a metal connector on the surface of the bridge. A mighty klang rings out when the hole is activated by passing traffic, casting a wide radius that extends further than any other sound emanating from the bridge. This klang is called forth by the bureaucracy of municipal roadworks and the limits of its neglect. Thus at the heart of the piece lies an investigation of how the overlapping identities of the region can be mapped by largely invisible processes of city planning and maintenance.
The walk moves west to east along the seawall that passes under the bridge (with detours south along the paths beneath the bridge and north along the bridge’s surface to the site of the pot hole itself). The boundaries of the walk are set by the limits of the klang’s extension, treating this region as an acoustic community defined by this particular sound just as parishes of old were established by the acoustic profile of the village church bell. We pass through a public park, private marina, reserve lands of the Squamish nation, campgrounds for the homeless, and a public pier, all of which intersect in various ways. As it moves through these areas the piece invites listeners to meditate on the tensions between urban infrastructure, public space, private property and Native land claims revealed by the shifting dynamics of the klang as it interacts with the microcosmic details of these various acoustic environments, and as I interact with a variety of people using these spaces.
The piece also invites contemplation on the processes of representing acoustic environments through technologies of sound. Constructed from recordings made in the spring of 2013 while on assignment to expand the archives of World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University (on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of their first recordings in this area), the piece aims to contribute to the WSP’s ongoing longitudinal analysis of Vancouver’s soundscapes while also challenging the norms and conventions the project has established for the acoustic presentation of recorded environments. The pot hole was filled in shortly after these recordings were made, so this composition ultimately stands as document of a sound that exists no more. But there have been other pot holes in the past, and there will be more again in time. And so this piece marks the beginning of a long-term project to chart the cycle of maintenance that sets these bells ringing, to consider the meaning of these sounds within the context of the ever shifting dynamics of this most fascinating part of Vancouver, and to engage critically with the legacy of the WSP.
Dronestikes on Saturn is the collaboration in between raxil4 and his Nameless Is Legion, an audio work that uses reverb laden drones with pedals, sine generators and a four track with loop tapes of some fine recordings or sonifications of the Saturn radio waves recorded near the poles of the planet via the Cassini spacecraft. It is a media ecology audio work offering an ethical composition and an aesthetical piece for preservation of the space, the urban space or the outer space, where these waves have been captured. In this case, preservation laws could develop a strong policy to facilitate the research for audioork in the conservation of sound as (eco)system.
Inner Noises is an 8-channel composition exploring the hidden resonances produced by the urban life. The ever-present, surrounding noise of contemporary city life distills to tones oscillating within the architecture. Capturing this activity with surface and boundary microphones the composer tuned in to resonating body of the city. Urban sound spaces of different cities across the globe collide and fuse in to an immersive sonic environment, allowing the listener to hear from the inside.
This piece derives from a single recording of the dawn chorus in my back garden. Various transformations, subtle and otherwise, have been made to the birdsong. The title is a play on John Cage, but also a reminder that a recording is a sound that is no longer at liberty.
Note: The stereo version of "Caged Birds (Augmentation)" was composed for "100x John: A Global Salute to John Cage in Sound and Image" in New York City (2012). It was subsequently played in Ireland at the Hilltown New Music Festival 2013 and in the UK at the Symposium on Acoustic Ecology, University of Kent (2013). This is the première of the four-channel mix, created specially for Invisible Places 2014.
Schizophonics is a piece inspired by and composed with daily city sounds recorded in several parts of Porto. It presents a sort of a trip across the city, seen through the eyes of a foreigner visitor. The term “schizophonic”, introduced in the 1970’s by Raymond Murray Schafer, refers to the dissociation of a sound from its source, made possible through the use of telecommunications and media technologies, and the way it affects our sonic environment as well as our perception of it.
In this piece, the term receives a triple meaning. Besides being an acousmatic piece, in which the sound sources are not present any more, it explores the combination of different sounds from different locations in Porto, as well as the relation between the original sounds and their electronic counterpart.
During my residency at La Muse en Circuit, I crisscrossed the city of Paris in search of sounds or sound environments. My itinerary was built from walks, all having as their point of departure the official centre of Paris, the point 48.8534°N 2.3488°E on the square in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
I do not wish to explain too much about this piece: instead, I prefer for the listener to be led through the work by their ear and imagination, much as I was led around the streets of Paris. The piece seeks to explore the connections between different places and acoustic environments. But Dérive is not only a documentary work: above all, it is quite poetic and mythological, a reading of the city at the present time, an exploration of the sounds, spaces, histories and cultures that shape Paris.
I walked over 100 kilometers in order to gather the materials for Dérive. I walked the full length of both banks of the Seine within the boundary of Boulevard Périphérique, recording the sounds of boats, gulls, the constant fluctuations of the river, it's voice rushing and changing, reverberating in tunnels and under bridges, merging with the sounds of traffic in the open air. I recorded the tombs of the Panthéon, the streets of Montmartre, the ambience and beautifully melancholic songs of Sacré-Couer, Notre Dame and its surrounding areas; the creaking floorboards of the house Gustave Moreau, the city sounds from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the tunnels of the Metro, dozens of street performers, office workers playing ping pong during lunch breaks, children playing in Place des Vosges and...
At the conclusion of this work, it seems to me that Paris is a city of flow and friction, of movement and interruption. But perhaps more than this, it is a place of saturation and juxtaposition. I could walk 100 kilometers more, following the flow and haltering rhythms of the city, in silent reverie.
Dérive was commissioned by La Muse En Circuit as the prize in Concours Luc Ferrari.
When I began making audio recordings of New York City, all I heard was traffic. Slowly, I began to realize that the city pulsates with many different kinds of sounds. Individually, each sound is its own object with a shape and texture, but collectively they form a concrete whole: this is the sound of the city with its fierce resonances, attacks, tones, rhythms, and timbres. I have come to understand this sound as a constantly shifting form with many evolving facets and shapes. It is a dense form with many strata. As a sculptor it is my inclination to reveal these strata and expose the inner edges and planes of sound that create this elusive shape.
I walk around New York. Sometimes I sit in the park. I often find myself in museums. I ride the subway and bus, sit in coffee shops and wander through bookstores and galleries. I have an Olympus LS-10 recorder in my bag, Telinga EM-23 microphones, and some homemade binaural microphones. I capture sound sketches with these tools.
Later, in my studio, I listen to my collected sounds. The specifics of the recorded spaces often return to me, immediately. As I listen I pick up my sculptor’s tools and break off pieces of sound – sometimes revealing an unexpected shape, but often I am captured by a detail of the detritus.
I have worked with studio materials for many years—metal, wood, paper, clay, plaster. I have often been drawn to the insubstantial and ephemeral – light and shadow – qualities to be manipulated in revealing the shape and form of a material. Now, I add the concept of sound to this vocabulary. Surprisingly I find that my ultimate subject is not just form, but the qualities of space, itself. Space exists outside the certainty of form. I like to experience it as this intangible that is apprehended, but not really known.
New York City is unknowable, ever-changing with infinite sides and angles. New York City Glyptic is not an attempt to know this city, but an attempt to be within it, to give it my attention, and to experience it grandness, mystery, beauty and its accompanying pain, fear, and anguish.
recorded June 2013, 9’ 00”
June 1st, 2013, my editor- wife and I drive three and a half hours out of Baltimore seeking the sounds of Brood II, a 17-year cicada bloom that has emerged in Northern Virginia, Delaware and New York, but not in Central Maryland. With new recording gear, I set out to find these ancient creatures infamous for their primal drone and dying squeals.
The smartphone GPS shows the route and with my right ear out the passenger-side window, I tell Eugenie where I sense the best sounds might be. We end up at Mason Neck State Park next to Pohick Bay, its surface dotted with belching speedboats, water-skiers, people fishing and others in anchored boats partying with loud music—a raucous flotilla bobbing next to a rare sonic event taking place just on shore.
The clash of this man-made noise and nature’s noise is one of the most intense sensory immersions that I have experienced and aurally recorded. The complex sounds of the Brood II cicadas, along with crickets, woodpeckers, banjo frogs, lapping water and wind and tree susurrations create what I call “ultimate music.” This natural composition juxtaposed with human acoustic and olfactory exhaust wafts through the marshlands and woods into my ears and nose to create a synesthetic apprehension of my immediate environment that can never be replicated.
I listen for those moments that contrast the far-off drone of thousands of cicadas with the close-up buzz-grind of the individual males urgently seeking their mates. At first I try to avoid motor sounds and voices, but soon give up knowing that regardless of what I record and hear, there will be human-made sounds in the recording. In the end, those sounds become the moog synthesizer in the landscape orchestra.
For the next five hours with headphones on, I continue to record while slowly walking through the park, listening for anomalies and nuances of Brood II in relation to other natural and un-natural sounds. Though Mason Neck is 30 miles from D.C., the ubiquity of powerboats and periodic planes in the sound recording makes it clear that the boundaries of urban and natural places have become blurred. Where does the edge of the city end and nature begin?
the inuit have many words for snow. do the different snows also have different voices? curious, i went to NUNAVUT to find out, to hear and listen for myself. with recordings made in arviat and in igloolik, i composed the acousmatic piece snowSongs, which is in seven continuous parts: in the beginning / two clumps of earth / snowSongs / sister sun brother moon / shaman / qalunaat / swanSong. the piece traces the sounds of snow as experienced through the ancient inuit life cycle lived out on the land, the complex inuit mythology, and upto the present environmental and sonic deterioration of the north. these are sounds intimately linked to place, and that identify a place slowly eroding into invisibility.