Tuning Space: Current Perspectives on Spatial Sound Research

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Moderator: Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum • www.gardnermuseum.org

Presenters:
Sam Auinger, Sonic Thinker, Composer and Sound Artist, Germany • www.samauinger.de
Dietmar Offenhuber, Assistant Professor, Northeastern University, US • www.offenhuber.net
Brent Ryan, Associate Professor and Head, City Design and Development Group, MIT www.dusp.mit.edu/faculty/brent-d-ryan

As noted in the panelists’ abstract, “Investigating the landscape of an urban environment is predominantly an issue of negative space. In many cities, this space is characterized by the sonic emissions of ventilation outlets, cooling units and electricity transformers. The sonic landscape is not merely the sum of their individual vibrations, but more importantly the result of their interaction with the material boundaries of the surrounding space, which shapes everything we hear. Such ensembles of stationary sound sources and their situation in the urban fabric create a sonic landscape with stable local characteristics, reflecting our life and shaping our experience of the urban environment. The result is often far from ideal and is symptomatic for our relationship with personal comfort and public space.”

The panelists then presented “approaches for investigating urban soundscapes, not as a topic for academic musing, but as a topic of crucial relevance for our bodily comfort and everyday behaviors.” Combining perspectives from sound art, urban planning and artistic research, they discussed “ways to investigate these phenomena through visualization, observation and active listening.”