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Seated Movement

Year

2022

Location

Berlin, DE
Amsterdam, NL

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This piece explores the concepts of acoustical space, movement, and architecture through stationary, yet moving, field recording. The piece follows my travels from Berlin to Amsterdam over the course of a single day – 16.06.2022. Field recordings were taken on the M10 Tram en route to Berlin Haubtbahnhof, the ICE 642 train from Berlin to Hannover, ICE 642 from Hannover to Amsterdam, and the 17 tram from Amsterdam Centraal to Overtoum.

Disclosure, taking the sounds that are taken for granted and making them focus of attention, “reveals the complexity of the urban environment, which is typically hidden by the dominating sounds of the everyday” (Lacey, 2017, p. 166). “Disclosure is the approach that demonstrates the soundscape always exceeds perceptive capacity, and that beyond the dominant affective forces that shape everyday experience, there are hidden qualities waiting to be revealed” (ibid). These qualities are also hidden inside soundscape recordings. Choices are made about how and when to record, how to edit into a piece, what processing and effects are applied. This piece blurs and makes transparent these choices.

For example, sounds from field recordings are often categorized into natural/unnatural, human/mechanical, etc. In this piece those boundaries and categorizations are blurred. Announcements on the tram are human sounds but have already been processed and mediated through on-board speakers before they were recorded. Voices of passengers and crew are obviously human and not mediated when recorded. However, those voices are no longer natural once recorded, edited, and processed for this piece.

Acoustical spaces always affect our sense of space through room resonances and ambient sounds. Room recordings and classic recordings such as ‘I am speaking in a room’ have illustrated this phenomenon in many ways. In this piece the architecture of the acoustical space is not fixed. The shape of the space is constantly changing over time as the tram bends around corners, as the train cars bounce over track points, and as doors opening and closing shapes the resonances found in the spaces. My body, and those of my fellow passengers, is part of that room. Mauss (cited in Sterne p.13) notes that "man's first and most natural technical object, and at the same time technical means, is his body." My body as a technical object being transported affects the space. The sounds my body makes – the cough, the movement of my microphone, shifting my luggage along the floor – are inextricable parts of networks of transport infrastructure within and between cities.

To amplify this, I have taken isolated and boosted the fundamental space resonances from each recording, layering over the base recording. Reverb and delays emphasize the artifacts of recording like breath and mic clicks that are usually removed. As the piece evolves, resonances build on each other, the spaces merging through resonance, the different recordings take on the characteristics of each other and the line between spaces becomes blurred. This allows us to hear the changing moments that result in “the local registration of the entire state of the universe at any given moment” (Cox, 2009, p. 21) alongside, and embedded within, the constantly changing universe. Just as sitting still and being transported embodies movement and stillness.

REFERENCES
Cox, C. (2009). Sound Art and the Sonic Unconscious. Organized Sound, 14(1), 19–26. doi.org/10.1017/S1355771809000041
Lacey, J. (2017). Sonic Rupture (pp. 1–208). Bloomsbury Academic.
Sterne, J. (2003). The Audible Past (pp. 1–235). Duke University Press.

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