Towards Geo-Situated Listening, Arnau Horta, δημοσίευση στο S+T+ARTS [16/11/2022]Marilena Pateraki
Immersed in a hyper-visual culture, we seem to have lost the ability to listen to the places where we live. In order to reclaim this sonorous harmony with the landscape, we take a look at several examples that show us ways of relating to the world around us through sound.
“Resonance is the beating of space-time through and around a body. It is not only a vibration that attenuates me, but also an oscillation of the world towards me and of me towards the world through which we both come into being”.
Jean-Luc Nancy, Resonance of meaning
Karst is the title of the installation created by sound designer and multimedia artist Lugh O’Neill as part of the S+T+ARTS residency organised by the CCCB, the Sónar festival and the UPC in the project titled “Repairing the Present”. One of the challenges proposed through this residency was to offer an answer to the question “How might we create a more harmonious city?” O’Neill’s installation is an immersive audiovisual narrative about the layers of memory and the various types of cultural substrates that resonate in different places in the city of Barcelona. The audio material, produced and recorded in each of these locations, is the result of the acoustic interaction between the voice or the sound of each performer’s instrument and the specific resonance of the place chosen in each case.
Drawing his inspiration from some of the forms of speech and song used around the world to describe and map different places and geographical settings, O’Neill’s piece aims to highlight the “ecological amnesia” resulting from the loss of such practices. While contemporary culture and new forms of technology seem to “enable us to record (visually) much more than ever before”, O’Neill explains that “the loss of context and knowledge about the places we inhabit makes them much flatter and our relationship with them has become much emptier”. This is why “re-sensitisation to sound cultures as a way of inhabiting our urban and natural environment is crucial to creating a new ecological awareness”.
The geological reference in the installation’s title (karst landscapes are those formed by the chemical erosion of the bedrock) reinforces a situated understanding of the notion of place and the materialistic sonorous approach proposed by the project. A sound, just like a landscape, is never flat but always unfolds three-dimensionally in space, simultaneously activating the space and transforming itself through it. On the other hand, a place or a landscape can never be reduced merely to its geometry or its physical characteristics; to experience it always involves the subjectivity of the person who inhabits or passes through it. As Dylan Trigg writes in his book The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of the Uncanny (Ohio University Press, 2012), “being-in-the-world means being placed (…). We are forever in the here, and it is from that here that our experiences take place (…) our orientation and experience of place is never truly epistemic in character but fundamentally affective.” (Ohio University Press, 2012).
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