Sonic Spaces

My second project was the continuation of my first project. Looking at space as a flexible changing thing that sound can enforce and manipulate; I created an Installation in the CFA stairwell. Six speakers were placed at varying levels along the stairwell and throughout the week I played a variety of different sounds to see how the acoustic quality would change how people interact with the space.

Monday- Stravinsky & Strauss (in reverse)

Tuesday- Construction ambience

Wednesday- Ocean ambience/bird calls

Thursday- CFA recordings

Friday- A Pulse

Along with the daily changing noises I wanted movement to be a large aspect of the piece, so I filtered the sound to each speaker differently. The speakers lower on the stairwell were high frequencies, and as you climbed the stairwell the frequencies slowly became lower and lower. People had the power to change what they were hearing by the way they moved throughout the space.

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The feedback from the piece was subjective and hard to document. For the most part, even though there was a clear view of all the speakers and cables, most people didn’t associate the sound with them. They though the wood shop was being extra noisy, or that the school of music was doing ‘something weird’. It wasn’t until people started moving throughout the space that they understood what was making the noise and how it was changing. This was caused from a few different things:

  1. CFA has a lot of reverb and it is hard to source a sound to a specific speaker unless you are very close to it.
  2. CFA has a lot of character to it. There are lots of different noises going on throughout the building at all times of the day, from voice majors singing, architecture students building, to art students creating art. Its just accepted that something is constantly going on that you might not be aware of or involved with throughout the halls.
  3. People have a hard time connecting the visual and aural without the involvement of movement. When you were able to walk up and down the stairs, it was much easier to understand what was going on versus just hearing it from down the hall.

No matter if people realized if it was coming from the speakers or not, they all reacted to it. I recorded someone walking up the stairs and when it was played everyone on the stairwell moved to let them pass before realizing no-one was there. Understanding that sound has an effect on what we do, where we are, and how we interact with a  space is important.