Gothenburg harbour. © Björn Carlsson/Shutterstock.com

Invisible sounds in a nested ecological space

A site-specific day-long installation/performance in the Gothenburg harbour.

This audio paper is an exploration of the conceptual ideas for, and the sonic results of, a site-specific day-long installation/performance in the Gothenburg harbour presented at the Gothenburg Art Sound Festival in October 2016. The piece is titled Invisible Sounds, A ‘stethoscope’ towards sounds unheard, and its aim was to create a performative situation where the participating artists, as well as audience and by-passers, could explore the complexity of urban noise. An aim with the project was to highlight and make ‘visible’, or heard, concealed soundings in order to reveal “invisible mobility below the surface of a visual world” (Voegelin, 2014, p.3). By creating a series of interactions between human and environment, as with the immediate interaction between performer, aeolian guitar and the wind on site, and further enhanced through the use of sensors and hydrophones to create sensation beyond normal human perception, the installation presents a widening of the performed space, such as defined by Denis Smalley (Smalley, 2007). With an Arena space set in an urban soundscape the installation introduces what we would like to think of as a Nested Ecological Space. Or, more specifically in this setting: A Nested Ecological Sound and Performance Space.

The original (live) installation tries to raise the awareness of this (nested) totality by means of an aesthetic/affective experience (which of course is not possible to represent through a stereo recording); not just space, not just environmental sounds, not just performance, but all this together.

In connection to this the paper also addresses the difference between the two concepts coupling and relation as discussed by Alexander Refsum Jensenius (Jensenius, 2007) and sets these in relation to what Elisabeth Grosz (Grosz, 2008, p.72) writes about sensation versus perception.

The audio paper discusses the installation by revisiting its artistic materials but also through a multi-layered display of auto-ethnography, documentary materials and analysis.

Bibliography

Grosz, E. (2008) Chaos, Art, Territory. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, p.72

Jensenius, A. R. (2007). Action–Sound: Developing Methods and Tools to Study Music-Related Body Movement. PhD thesis, University of Oslo.

Smalley, D. (2007) Space-form and the Acousmatic image, Organised Sound. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press

Voegelin, S. (2014) Sonic Possible Worlds. New York: Bloomsbury Academic

Keywords

sound installations
Sound’s unheard
Aeolian guitar
Performance space
Coupling vs. Relation