Sonic Kinesthetic Forest is an interdisciplinary research project and pedagogical investigation that uses sensory-based, creative methods of drawing, sound, and movement for connecting humans more viscerally to trees and forest landscapes. Our work responds to David Abram’s premise in The Spell of the Sensuous that sensory practices are vital for mitigating human disembodiment, desensitization and disconnectedness from nature in contemporary life. Resilience, as a means of adapting to and recovering from extremes, may offer a form of bodily reconnection that reinforces human and more-than-human relations, especially between humans and trees. We approach resilience as a relational state of being that can be achieved by stimulating sensory modes of expression. In this paper we draw from our respective disciplines as landscape designer, sound artist, and choreographer/movement analyst to explain and reflect on the sonic kinesthetic methodology we developed for exploring the sensory attributes of trees through the embodied acts of listening, moving and drawing. We describe how the methodology was applied in two pedagogical projects: Listening to Trees, a workshop for undergraduate landscape architecture students at California State Polytechnic University Pomona (USA) and Dancing with Trees, a choreographic piece created for adolescent dancers as part of the Guelph Youth Dancers project (Canada), and how the proposed sonic kinesthetic methodology was demonstrated as a case study during the ECADE conference. We also discuss how project participants cultivated a deeper understanding of the aliveness of trees, ultimately enhancing their own sense of resilience by forging a more reciprocal relationship with the sentient world.
This article proposes an approach to field recording based on the notion of sonic fictions to examine the reality of the environment and to consider new ways to act on spaces and their representations through sound. Sonic fictions refer to our ability to shape imaginary and virtual worlds through the manipulation of sonic spaces loaded with references. This occurs when we listen, experience, perceive or anticipate a given sound event as well as when we use our senses to develop an understanding of the world around us. Our approach is based on a dialogue among concepts, theory and practice borrowing both from the artistic practice and the ecological potential of field recording and from recent narratives of climate fiction, in order to reveal or even rethink our relationship to the world.
Sound is a fundamental element of our relationship to others and to the world. Current environmental, sociopolitical, cultural, and economic dimensions of our society can be captured and studied through sound. This article investigates ways of listening to future versions of our cities. Sound’s role is explored in the transformation of spaces and communities based on a dialectic between sound art, urban space, and climate fiction. Through the optic of practical student projects on public sonic interventions in the eastern suburbs of Paris, this study explores how sound can function as an interface between artists and citizens to negotiate the future state of our environment. The practical projects employ methods of listening, field recording and sound design to envisage future forms of urban spaces. This study suggests the term “fictional listening” to conceptually support processes of collective perception and design that promote diversity and can be adaptable to the natural and urban characteristics of spaces.
Practical experimentation, technique demonstration and work presentation are indispensable aspects of teaching artistic disciplines. Physical distancing and lockdown conditions during the coronavirus pandemic have been particularly challenging for studio-based courses. With specialist equipment and university facilities being out of reach, higher education teaching staff have been given the responsibility to provide alternative solutions to ensure learning objectives are met. This article investigates challenges, solutions and outcomes in teaching studio projects through online blogs within the framework of the undergraduate course Sonic Spaces at Gustave Eiffel University in France. This course explores the notion of space in sonic arts with content ranging from spatial audio, sound in public space, interactive and participatory sound installations and performances. The experiences and learning processes of creating and listening to sound environments online are not the same as a physical, real life interaction. However, the use of blogs can offer a range of possibilities through a synchronous and asynchronous online exchange among students, educators and audiences. Hence, blogs can be considered not only as educational tools, but as means for an aesthetic exchange and collective experience. The chronological format of a blog is approached in this article as a form of daily life storytelling and as a reflective artistic practice while enhancing student participation, communication and the sense of belonging during lockdown conditions. At the same time, blogs are considered from an aesthetic perspective in relation to the challenges and practical difficulties when a multisensory experience moves from exhibition and public space to an online virtual space. The proposed use of blogs suggests new ways for educators to support conceptually and technically practice-based courses through an online format beyond the studio.
This third issue of Airea presents a second round of articles in response to our call for contributions 'Revisiting interdisciplinarity within collaborative and participatory creative practice', announced in June 2019. Following the second issue that showcased contributions from sound-related areas, the present collection focuses on the breadth of practices in art and design. The contributions in this issue surface knowledge about the way interdisciplinary methodologies and approaches influence and shape spaces and bodies within collaborative and participatory works.
Over the past two decades, collaboration has emerged as a keyword and an important methodological and ethical concern in various disciplines, which has nurtured interdisciplinary approaches that often encompass innovative processes of knowledge production. In sonic practice, trends such as participatory art, the workshop turn, and ideas of Do-It-With-Others contributed to the emergence of creative processes that manifest within the sphere of inter-human relations through participation and collaboration. Such processes can operate beyond the institutional space, or classic studio and gallery settings, by engaging directly with the social realm; blurring the lines between art, performance and our lived social, political, economic, technological and environmental realities. How are interdisciplinary practices, methodologies and vocabularies shaping the way sound and music works are created and experienced? How does this search for knowledge change sonic practice? The second issue of Airea Journal explores these questions by presenting practice-based and theoretical contributions of collaborative interdisciplinary creative processes in sound. This special focus on sound is addressed from multiple perspectives in relation to compositional, audiovisual, social, political, environmental, participatory and performative standpoints. This is a move that pays attention to and interrogates the aesthetics, methodologies and politics of interdisciplinary sonic practices. The sound arts often involve more than one disciplines and in order to study and comprehend them, an interdisciplinary approach is demanded. Many sound artworks are more than just (about) sound or sounds. Consequently, no single discipline is able to fully encompass how sound as affective and vibrant matter can be both reflexive and constitutive of social, cultural, political, religious, ethical, and perhaps even biological or cognitive developments. Sound can be investigated from almost any angle, and the articles in the present issue include numerous disciplines and subjects.
This article discusses a specific approach to sound from a sculptural perspective, based on an innovative process named "co-composition", in which physical and sonic material can be concurrently produced, rearranged and transformed in a solo environment. This approach investigates ways of working with the direct response of materials to performed actions by mapping actions of making in ways that can inform new actions through sound. I question the way sculptural sounds are caused and how sounds and their real-time transformation could influence the way I understand the process as a practitioner and researcher, and how this is experienced by the audience. How does the process change once sound is transformed to something different, new? How does this affect practising with sound as more than sound? To achieve this, I develop new ways of articulating aesthetic decisions from one medium to the other on the basis of their "stories" as they are manifested through traces of material manipulation.
This article discusses a prototype that explores the simultaneous manipulation of three-dimensional digital forms and sound. Our multi-media study examines the aesthetic affordances of tight parameter couplings between digital three-dimensional objects and sound objects based on notions of process and user-machine interaction. It investigates how effective cohesion between visual, spatial and sonic might be established through changes perceived in parallel; what Michel Chion refers to as 'synchresis'. Drawing from Mike Blow's work On the Simultaneous Perception of Sound and Three-Dimensional Objects and processual art, this prototype uses computer technology for forming and mediating a creative practice involving 3D animation, sound synthesis, digital signal processing and programming. Our practice-based approach entails the rendering of a three-dimensional digital object in Processing whose form changes over time according to specific actions. Spatial data is sent via Open Sound Control (OSC) to Max MSP in real time, where sound is synthesized and then manipulated. Sonic parameters such as amplitude, spectral density/width and timbre are controlled by select spatial parameters from the three-dimensional object. Sound processing is realized based on the changing of the three-dimensional object in time through basic actions such as splitting, distorting, cutting, shattering and rotating. We use digital technology to look beyond basic synchronisation of sound and vision to a more complex cohesion of percepts, based on changes to myriad sonic and visual parameters experienced concurrently.
This article explores the possibility of creating alternative user experience in exhibition spaces while using audience interactivity as medium for generating sonic material. We are investigating participatory art in museum space, ways for redefining audiences, and how artistic logic can be articulated through an encounter with the public. Inspired by the “ArtLens” mobile application developed by The Cleveland Museum of Art, our research adopted an interdisciplinary approach engaging museum visitors with an interactive app. The app maps the exhibition space with sound frequencies and then tracks the journey of each visitor as they go through the exhibition. It was developed as a prototype and applied in a mock exhibition space in Edinburgh College of Art with student volunteers. The unique combination of sounds derived from the user’s journey not only allowed the forming of sound sequences but also put the users in an active position to enhance their involvement in otherwise neglected spatial experience. The next step of our research will apply the prototype in museum spaces and explore how the characteristics of different architectural spaces could influence the result.
Edinburgh Gateway is a new station on the outskirts of Edinburgh connecting the Fife railway line with the tram network.‘The new station, in the west of the city, will help to transform travel options for passengers from Fife and the north giving them easy access to the Edinburgh tram network and the city’s airport. Edinburgh Gateway is part of the Scottish Government-funded Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP)which, along with a rolling programme of electrification across the central belt, will deliver reduced journey times and increased capacity and allow the introduction of new faster and greener trains.’ The e station was commissioned by Network Rail (NR)and constructed by Balfour Beatty (BB).Work on the station commenced in April 2015 and was completed in December 2016. The Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) was invited to propose ideas to inaugurate the station and formed a partnership with Concrete Scotland (CS) and Royal Botanic Gardens (RBGE), who were advising on the planting and landscape strategy. ESALA is renowned for research into innovative construction, including research into the use of flexible fabric for concrete formwork. Seeking to contribute to Network Rail’s forward-looking vision for Edinburgh Gateway, ESALA, RBGE and CS developed a proposal for artworks and landscaping that would combine ideas on urban biodiversity, sense of place, innovative construction and community engagement. The final outcome consisted of two main parts - a series of concrete wall panels designed by local school children and a landscaping proposal including abstracted concrete ‘tree’ forms at the entrance to the station. All the concrete pieces used various fabric forming techniques and were produced in the ESALA workshops, Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh.
This paper proposes a method for making generative art in the form of a system based on an interdisciplinary approach combining sculpture and sound. I will explore the possibility of using data from the spectral analysis of sounds as instructions for making sculpture. Inspired by Sol LeWitt's principles and ideas for the creation of generative art as system and Francis Halsall’s definition of a ‘system’s identity’ (Halsall, 2008, p. 27), I am investigating ways for creating a new system that will allow the articulation of the above idea. Furthermore, combining Tom Johnson’s (2015) system for composing music after LeWitt’s sculpture Incomplete Open Cubes and Oscar Wiggli’s sculptural and musical work, I will focus on how sequences of sound material could be related to a sculpture. Based on Denis Smalley’s spectromorphology as ‘a descriptive tool based on aural perception’ (Smalley, 1997, p. 107), I will analyze sound samples recorded in the sculpture workshop during the making process and I will focus on their connection to the gestures of the sculptor. In this paper, Smalley’s ‘ideas of onset (how something starts), continuant (how it continues) and termination (how it ends)’ (Smalley, 1997, p. 115) will be reconsidered from a sculptural perspective. Through the realization of a series of practical experiments, I will discuss: a) how actions of making sculpture could be reflected through sound, b) what kind of variations of spectra could inform different actions, c) how different materials could affect the sound samples and d) how the actions of making sculpture could be predefined as sequences through sound material in a systematized way, producing generative outcomes.
This practice-based research employs sculptural and sound practices, and their mediation through representation, notation, technologies and performance, to develop an innovative compositional process named co-composition, in which physical and sonic material can be concurrently produced, rearranged and transformed. At the core of this thesis is a multi-layered mode of thinking, informed by an understanding of emerging morphologies and the relationships formed between and across the two modalities of sound and sculpture. Taking as starting point materials and their qualities, while engaging with aesthetics and theories of minimalism and sound studies, this research seeks to introduce a co-compositional mode of creative and critical engagement, as the main research tool. Central themes are action, process, trace and time. Moving beyond an approach of forming analogies between modalities, this research explores a mode of navigating across dimensions of sculpture and sound through a dialogue between theory and practice. The methodological approach is reflective and generative, borrowing from both traditions to develop new methods through practical exploration which emerge as part of the research process. Furthermore, analytical tools and technological mediation are employed to inform and expand how co-composition takes place in a solo environment and how this process is experienced by both the artist-performer and audience. The thesis comprises a series of practical works and experimentations on co-composition, and a written text, which is critically engaging with the concepts and the progression of the research.