Sonic Rupture: A Practice-led Approach to Urban ­Soundscape Design 9781501309977, 9781501309984, 9781501309991

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Table of contents :
Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists
1. Shaping Sonic Cities
2. Creating New Natures
Interlude: The Urban Roar
3. Noise Meditations
4. Sonic Rupture
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Sonic Rupture: A Practice-led Approach to Urban ­Soundscape Design
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Sonic Rupture

Sonic Rupture A Practice-led Approach to Urban Soundscape Design Jordan Lacey

Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc

N E W YO R K • LO N D O N • OX F O R D • N E W D E L H I • SY DN EY

Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc 1385 Broadway New York NY 10018 USA

50 Bedford Square London WC1B 3DP UK BLOOMSBURY and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2016 Paperback edition first published 2017 © Jordan Lacey, 2016 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury or the author. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: PB: ePDF: ePub:

978-1-5013-0997-7 978-1-5013-3857-1 978-1-5013-0999-1 978-1-5013-1000-3

Cover design: Clare Turner Cover image © TwilightShow / iStock

Please visit this book’s companion website, which contains the audio samples discussed in chapter 3, at

Typeset by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India

Contents Acknowledgements Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists

1 2 3 4

Introduction Shaping Sonic Cities Creating New Natures Interlude: The Urban Roar Noise Meditations Sonic Rupture Dreamings

References Index

vi vii 1 25 49 69 71 141 175 181 189

Acknowledgements I wish to extend my gratitude to Associate Professor Lawrence Harvey, the director of the Spatial Information Architectural Laboratories (SIAL) Sound Studios at RMIT University’s School of Architecture and Design, who both supported and encouraged me to pursue this research. The studios are a multidisciplinary facility with a history of urban soundscape design research and technological applications to spatial sound performance and installation, which has had a strong influence on my approach to creative practice research and the writing of this book. It has been a privilege to extend this body of knowledge with my own explorations into the role of publically situated sonic installations. I am indebted to Jianne Whelton, whose expertise in linguistics and copy-editing has greatly clarified the arguments made in this book. My thanks to: Lawrence Harvey, Charles Anderson, Paul Carter, Hélène Frichot, Susan Frykberg, Ros Bandt, Scott Smallwood, Stephan Moore, Dan St-Clair, Ben Byrne, Philip Samartzis, Pia Ednie-Brown, Tania Splawa-Neyman and Marcel Cobussen, who have been so generous with both time and minds. I would also like to extend my thanks to the reviewers, particularly those whose generous insights assisted in the development of the affect theories presented in this book. I am indebted to RMIT University for awarding me with the Higher Degree by Research Publication Grant, without which much of the writing of this book would not have been possible. I am also deeply thankful to Rebecca Pohlner and our two little ones, Javan and Eva, who have been so generous and supportive along the way.

Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists This book is for those sonic practitioners, who, like myself, continue to see an important place for acoustic ecology in contemporary urban soundscape design practice, but feel compelled to respond to the many critical voices that perceive anti-noise and anti-urban tendencies in the World Soundscape Project (WSP) research, and more broadly, the field of acoustic ecology. I had to find a way to apply the tenets of acoustic ecology to my practice in a scholarly environment that was critical of this domain. This book is largely an outcome of those efforts. I hope it will give emerging and established practitioners a platform from which to apply acoustic ecology principles from within the complex field of contemporary sound studies, and use them to shape installation practices that seek to impact the ever-present noisy soundscapes of the urban. Criticisms aimed at acoustic ecology in this book are based on the observation that its existing urban soundscape design approaches require recalibration to more effectively respond to the noises of contemporary urban soundscapes. This book presents new ways to think about urban noises, and presents ways that creative practitioners can (and do) interact with noise to produce new and profound urban experiences. I have taught soundscape studies/acoustic ecology to a new generation of sound practitioners and am constantly amazed by the extraordinary way in which the focused listening exercises introduced by the WSP (soundwalking, sound mapping and soundscape composition) unfailingly produce new and powerful ways of connecting with our environments. It was the WSP, led by Murray Schafer, that foregrounded the importance of healthy listening relationships between society and soundscape. During the 1970s, the WSP carried out a series of research projects in the city of Vancouver and across Canada, and in five European villages, which led to the establishment of a vast inventory of field recordings and a comprehensive lexicon of soundbased terms, each of which continue to be utilized in education programmes, composition practices and listening approaches. However, as I like to point


Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists

out to my students (since it was also brought to my attention as a soundscape studies student), acoustic ecology was not the first to foreground the important relationship between a listener and space (Harvey 2008: 20). It was Marshal McLuhan and Edmund Carpenter’s paper ‘Acoustic Space’ (1953) that was the first seminal work to establish this connection. Additionally, John Cage’s meditations on the nature of sound and silence brought our attention to the ever-present musicality of the environment. See for instance Silence (1973) and his composition 4΄33˝ (1952). Part of the intention of this book is to align acoustic ecology with affect theory. This is a difficult task, because acoustic ecology can be thought of as primarily grounded in phenomenological approaches (centred in human perception) that foreground an aesthetic preference for soundscape types (‘natural’ and ‘village’, if we consider the WSP literature). Alternatively, as explained by affect theorist Nigel Thrift (2008), ‘affect is understood as a set of flows moving through the bodies of humans and other beings, not least because bodies are not primarily centred repositories of knowledge – originators – but rather receivers and transmitters, ceaselessly moving messages of various kinds on’ (p. 236). Affect, then, is an ecological dynamic that considers the relationships between all bodies rather than the phenomenological relationship between individual human bodies and their perceptions of the soundscape. Barry Truax’s (2001) Acoustic Communication (Truax was an original member of the WSP) grounds acoustic ecology in a communicational model in which sound as energy (vibration) determines the value of a soundscape by its capacity to clearly transmit information to, and between, listeners. In short, the clearer the signal, the healthier the soundscape and the ‘acoustic communities’ that live within it. Given its focus on sound as transmission, we might speculate that Truax’s Acoustic Communication model brings us closer to an affective approach. Yet it remains phenomenological, given that its precepts continue to be listener centred; that is, the value of a soundscape is determined by the extent to which human beings can hear clearly all those sounds that constitute the soundscape. Alternatively, affect theory decentres the human listener by considering interconnections between all bodies (including living and non-living bodies), and, in so doing, repositions urban noise as an affective medium with the potential to transmit messages that might augment, rather

Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists


than exclusively diminish, the human experience. By combining affect theory and acoustic ecology, I have come to consider noise as a material that has the potential to augment the imaginative capacities of the human body. This consideration is not an impassioned defence of the existence of noise (which of course, can be both annoying and destructive), but rather, is an acceptance of its global ubiquity, and an affirmation of the power of creativity to alter its affects. This insight provides new methods for designing listening (and corporeal) experiences that increase the possibilities for profound creative encounters in the urban. This is primarily achieved by way of artistic practices that use sound installations to transform urban environments. My work as a sound installation artist (the subject of Chapter 3) had initially been aligned with acoustic ecology concerns about the impact of urban noise. As will be clearly articulated, the lo-fi–hi-fi tool, acoustic ecology’s most enduring contribution to urban soundscape design, initiated my creative practice research, and remains a powerful tool in the sonic rupture model (Subtraction). But it is also by criticizing this tool, and the assumptions which surround it, that I was able to start investigating new ways to interface with urban soundscapes. I am aware that there are some acoustic ecologists who find the lo-fi–hi-fi discussion ‘tiresome’. This is understandable, given that the terminology itself has attracted ongoing criticism. Furthermore, Hildegard Westerkamp’s practice presents a complex, political relationship with urban noises: A Walk Through the City (1981), Gently Penetrating Beneath the Sounding Surfaces of Another Place (1997) and her extensive soundwalking practice (to which we could add the name Andra McCartney) being clear examples. However, as there is no research, to my knowledge, that has attempted to recalibrate the lo-fi–hi-fi distinction for contemporary soundscape design, and as the distinction remains important to the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology (1999), both Murray Schafer’s and Barry Truax’s field-defining books (Soundscape: Tuning of the World, 1977, and Acoustic Communication, 1984), and Hildegard Westerkamp’s Master’s thesis ‘Listening and Soundmaking: A Study of Music-As-Environment’ (1988), I think it is entirely acceptable to critique the concept as representative of the WSP’s and acoustic ecology’s approach to urban soundscape design. However, to be absolutely clear, this book is about urban soundscape design. It is not about acoustic ecology’s


Foreword: A Note to Acoustic Ecologists

explorations of soundscape composition, soundwalking, sound education, or theories of listening (although these things are all mentioned in passing), which are other discernible, and ongoing, contributions of the WSP and the field of acoustic ecology to sound studies. When all is said and done, at the heart of this book is a similar message propagated by acoustic ecology, and most sound practitioners and researchers who are passionate about sound: the power of listening is its capacity to create new imaginative worlds. The sound installation, as sonic rupture, seeks to create spaces within which new dreamings might emerge, and that is the topic of this book.


Skilfully designing sound installations to be embedded in the everyday fabric of our cities is an emerging field of study and practice. This book presents a practitioner-led approach to the design of such urban installations, and includes a range of installation approaches sensitive to the existing conditions of urban environments. It proposes the establishment of networks of sonic ruptures throughout urban centres, to diversify sonic environments and expand the possibility for creative encounter. A ‘sonic rupture’ can be defined as a sound installation that diversifies an urban environment or environments, and within which new creative human experiences can unfold. A sound installation may be thought of as a ‘work of art’ in the sense of Simon O’Sullivan’s description, in his book Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation (2006). He describes art as a ‘complex event that brings about the possibility of something new’ (p. 2). These are moments of encounter in which our typical ways of being in the world are challenged, our systems of knowledge disrupted. We are forced to thought. The encounter then operates as a rupture in our habitual modes of being and thus in our habitual subjectivities. It produces a cut, a crack. However this is not the end of the story, for the rupturing encounter also contains a moment of affirmation, the affirmation of a new world, in fact a way of seeing and thinking this world differently. (Ibid: 1)

Whenever the term ‘sound installation’ is used in this book, it should be considered consistent with O’Sullivan’s description of art as encounter. The core concept of sonic rupture is that successful sound installations are born of relationships between a sonic practitioner and his or her space of inquiry, not predetermined systems (e.g. environmental management) that prescribe the conditions for sonic intervention. The goal of such sound installations is hence to enable creative experience in the city, including both the creative acts of a practitioner and the feelings evoked or elicited in the public


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through exposure to the unexpected, the new and the evocative (encounter). It is the position of this book that social health and well-being is at least partly attributable to utilizing the human capacity for creative experiences within everyday settings; accordingly, the sonic practice described aims to facilitate such encounters. Years of immersion in the urban soundscapes of Melbourne – listening, recording, designing and observing – is the source for the claims made here. If global cities are being functionalized, as claimed here and elsewhere (see ‘Functionalist imperatives’, below), then the sonic practitioner can play a unique and important role in ensuring that the city is more than just a place of work and productivity. It should also be a place for play, curiosity and creative engagement.1 The sonic practitioner is considered as adding a unique voice to this conversation; as sound has the quality of being dynamic, ephemeral and malleable, its affective powers can be instantly reconfigured. The sub-sections below present themes that appear throughout the book: the descriptions they provide can be used to guide readers’ understanding of the concepts explored throughout the book.

Affect Of particular relevance to the concept of sonic rupture is the concept of ‘affect’,2 or to be more precise, ‘sonic affect’. Of particular influence to the present study is Brian Massumi’s essay ‘The Autonomy of Affect’ (2002), which contributes to the shaping of the concept of the ‘affective earth’ (see below). Of equal importance is Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (2012), which analyses the relationship between affective sonic environments and the mobilization of social bodies (discussed in Chapter 1). Other key texts include Thrift’s (2008) discussions of affective politics, particularly his discussions of ‘affective contagion’ and its impacts on the agency of human bodies, both Grosz’s (2008) and O’Sullivan’s (2006) discussions of art in relation to Deleuzoguattarian concepts, and Cox’s (2009) and Hainge’s (2013) analyses of noise as an affective medium. However, the present argument owes a particular debt to Massumi and Goodman, who



have both paved the way for discussions of affect in relation to urban sonic environments (a link made clear by Sonic Warfare’s inclusion in Erin Manning’s and Brian Massumi’s Technologies of Lived Abstraction book series). This book builds on their work by presenting a sonic rupture model that seeks to expand the possibilities for creative encounters in global cities. The intention is to recalibrate existing discussions of urban soundscape design. Embracing affect theory is a rejection of aesthetic approaches that judge the quality (i.e. beauty) of sounds, and phenomenological approaches that determine the quality of soundscapes based on individual perceptions. Instead, sonic affect considers the capacity of the urban soundscape to shape the physical and emotional expressions of the collective social body, and, importantly, the capacity of the social body to experience what we might term mythic, imaginative and poetic relationships within the affective environments in which they are immersed.

‘Pre-personal’ affect Pre-personal affect is distinctive from emotive affects (qua personal feeling). In the opening to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (2004), Massumi (who translated the book) emphasizes this: ‘It is a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’ (p. xvii). To understand this, Deleuze’s study of Baruch Spinoza, who had a profound and ongoing influence on Deleuze, must be considered. In Spinoza: Practical Philosophy (1988), Deleuze defines the main theoretical thesis of Spinozism as ‘a single substance having an infinity of attributes … all creatures being only modes of these attributes or modifications of this substance. … Pantheism and atheism are combined in this thesis, which denies the existence of a moral, transcendent, creator God.’ (Deleuze 1988: 17). And later, ‘Ethics, which is to say, a typology of immanent modes of existence, replaces Morality, which always refers existence to transcendent values’ (Ibid: 23). By collapsing the transcendent into the real, Spinoza leaves us with an infinite ‘substance’ that is immanent to every given moment. This substance, in itself, is pure joy, and the question of the ethical life becomes the degree to which this joy is augmented or diminished by the lives we live. Or as explained by O’Sullivan (2006), ‘for


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Deleuze-Spinoza the science of affect is called ethics: the organization of one’s world so as to produce joyful encounters, or affects which are of the “joy-increasing type”, those which increase our capacity to act in the world’ (p. 41). Every given moment (events, forms, objects etc.) both exist in and are expressions of this substance. Deleuze and Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus (2004) rework this ‘substance’ into the concept of the ‘plane of immanence’, which plays an important role in their metaphysics. This complex concept cannot be covered adequately here, given that it would take the book in a purely theoretical direction, which is not commensurate with the creative practice research presented here. Suffice it to say that the plane of immanence can be thought of as unactualized potential that is in a constant process of becoming real by affecting the real. This leads us to consider the concept of the ‘virtual’.

The Virtual In his book Parables for the Virtual (2002), Brain Massumi expands Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the virtual. In short, the virtual is unquantifiable and non-spatial abstraction that populates the plane of immanence, and drives the potential that affects the real. We might think of the virtual as the ‘mechanism’ by which the real (the sensate world) is in a state of constant becoming. Creative interventions, such as sound installations, can augment human experiences by actualizing the virtual to affect the real. O’Sullivan (2006) explains it this way: ‘Art is that genuinely creative act that actualises the virtual, the virtual here being understood as the realm of affect. This gives art an ethical imperative, for it involves a “moving beyond” the already familiar (our ‘actual’ selves), precisely a kind of “self-overcoming”’ (p. 51). In his final essay ‘Pure Immanence’ (2001), Gilles Deleuze explains the concept of the virtual as follows: ‘What we call virtual is not something that lacks reality but something that is engaged in a process of actualization following the plane that gives it its particular reality … the plane of immanence is itself virtual’ (Deleuze 2001: 31). Given the theoretical complexities that discussions of the virtual can generate, in this book, the virtual (with the exception of this short discussion) has been mostly ignored. Instead, pre-personal affect, whether an expression of a ‘substance’, the ‘plane of immanence’ or the ‘virtual’, is considered



as an ever-present creative press that is forever becoming real, by affecting the real, with those multiplicities of unfolding moments that we experience as everyday life. Pre-personal affect is a boundless, shimmering creativity that is immanent to, and always in excess of, all the forms and expressions of the real.

Spirit of the land This book’s perception of pre-personal affect is also influenced by the insights of indigenous cultures, particularly Australian Aboriginal cosmologies, whose diverse, cultural expressions are connected with what we might call a pantheistic appreciation for the traditional lands they inhabit. This will be illustrated by way of analogy, which is fitting, given that historically, Aboriginal peoples have transmitted, and to some extent continue to do so, their knowledge orally. At the time of writing this book, I was involved in a cross-cultural workshop that brought together artists and the Barkindji people of Southeast Australia to share stories and learn about the traditions of their land. A Barkindji elder recounted to me the following: ‘We own the land and the land owns us. If you own the land and the spirit lives within it then you have a spirit yourself. So that when you die you go back to your ancestors. You don’t go nowhere else’.3 This response to my query (‘What do you mean when you say the land is alive?’) is based on the elder’s observation that the land is in a constant state of becoming. It is the ‘spirit of the land’ that ensures space is expressed differently at any given moment (ephemeral fields of sounds, shifting landscapes etc.). It is the view of the present study that this indigenous ‘spirit of the land’ is commensurate with Spinoza’s ‘substance’ and Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘immanence’, their commonality being enveloped by the term ‘pantheism’ (see Deleuze quote above).4 This ‘spirit’ or ‘substance’ in which the real exists is insensate, and is only perceivable to the senses in its capacity to affect the real. Indigenous Australians embodied (and in places continue to embody) diverse dreamings (mythologies), which we might understand as actualizations of ‘the spirit of the land’ realized through the imaginative capacities (ritual, painting, dance, storytelling etc.) of those social bodies interconnected with the land.5 In our secular culture, as suggested earlier, we might think of this spirit or substance as a creative press, an ever-present and immanent creativity that is always affecting


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the real. Chapter 2 will develop these ideas into the concept of the ‘affective earth’ and the ‘urban crust’, in relation to the social bodies that emerge from each.

Sonic affect So how do these ideas translate into the concept of sonic affect, particularly as presented by Goodman? The sounds of the city can be thought of as a prepersonal sonic continuum, which behaves as an ‘ecology of vibrational affects’ (Goodman 2010: 191) — ‘vibrational’ in the sense that sound is the vibration of materials (particularly air), and ‘ecological’ in the sense that all those bodies immersed within the sonic continuum are interconnected by these vibrations. Just as a human life can only experience a portion of the infinity of Spinoza’s substance, so too only a limited range of sounds can be registered by the body, both in terms of perceivable frequencies (approx. 20–20,000Hz) and in terms of the immediate geographical spread of sounds available to the body. This sonic continuum affects emotive, physical and imaginative qualities in those bodies immersed in the field of sounds. Bodily affects are driven by the immediate configuration (intensities/dynamics/frequencies) of the sonic continuum. From the position of practice, the affective qualities of sound are particularly susceptible to intervention, given their ephemeral and malleable qualities. Accordingly, ‘noisy’ urban soundscapes, in the context of urban soundscape design, are interpreted as containing creative potential from which new realities, through intervention, can instantly unfold (Chapter 1).

‘Personal’ affect ‘Pre-personal’ affect becomes ‘personal’ affect when the creative press causes discernible emotive and physical responses in those bodies that have been affected. At this point we enter a second line of argument that considers the subjectivity of affect. Now we are concerned with the way bodies (human and non-human) affect each other emotionally.6 We might think of pre-personal affect as metaphysical, in that it presents an underlying primary cause that affects all bodies (human and non-human); and personal affect as concerned with relational affects between bodies (humans and otherwise). Will Schrimshaw



(2013) summarizes this difference succinctly: ‘Emotion is thought to reside on the side of subjective affirmation, while affect “itself ” constitutes something akin to the carrier of this affirmation while remaining distinct from it’ (p. 30). ‘This “distinct” form of affect is one discussed by Deleuze and Guattari, who describe a metaphysical (rather than phenomenological) understanding of affect, which emerges with the discerning of the human subject as creator and/or perceiver’ (Ibid: 10). In the present argument, these two approaches to affective theory – the pre-personal and the personal – are connected in the following way: the unique emotive response of each affected individual occurs within affective sonic fields, within which multiple individuals (the social body) are immersed. Pre-personal affect can be thought of as sweeping through the social body, catalysing emotive responses realized as individuated personal affects. Pre-personal affect is abstract, insofar as it cannot be identified; it is akin to an ever-present creative press with which the sonic practitioner interfaces and plays. Personal affect is tangible from a sensorial standpoint, and knowable as the relations that connect environments and people. So, in the present argument, the primary affect is that of the pre-personal, and the secondary affects are the personal realizations of each affected (particularly human) body, which proceed to affect one another and their surrounding environments. Through affective theory, the urban is reimagined as a nexus of dynamic environments and transmutable human bodies interconnected by multiple, unfolding events. These are the profoundly creative conditions in which the sonic practitioner is immersed, both theoretically and practically.

Acoustic ecology This book traces its urban soundscape design lineage back to the works and ideas of acoustic ecologists, who seek mythic, imaginative and poetic ways to interconnect with the world. The field of acoustic ecology, an outgrowth of the research of the WSP, was the first to present the possibility of designing urban soundscapes. Since the early 1970s, when WSP leader Murray Schafer reshaped anti-noise activism by encouraging a more positive engagement between society and soundscape, diverse and ongoing efforts have been devoted to


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developing more affirmative attitudes towards urban sound environments.7 This book is, to a certain extent, a continuation of this trajectory. However, in recent years, a number of theorists have criticized acoustic ecology, and in particular the term ‘soundscape’ (see Chapter 1), as sustaining a negative attitude towards urban noises. This book responds to these criticisms by applying the sonic affect concept to acoustic ecology, a technique that seeks to ascribe to the existing conditions of the urban a more affirmative and nonjudgemental countenance. It is hoped that by doing so, the important insights of acoustic ecology will not be overshadowed by an advancing field of study intent on sustaining ubiquitous criticisms of its legacy. To achieve this, acoustic ecology will be subjected to a number of critiques throughout this book. However, in doing so, it is not the aim of the sonic rupture concept to supersede or dismiss acoustic ecology research, but rather to recalibrate its urban soundscape design research towards a new creative interface with noisy urban soundscapes. It is the view of this book that the insights produced by the acoustic ecology movement are uniquely able to reveal the mythic and poetic expressions of urban soundscapes, given that it is the primary intellectual and practice-based tradition in academic sound studies that actively foregrounds the important link between listening and the possibility of such experiences. However, it is argued that these experiences will be more readily revealed through an affective approach to urban soundscape design, since existing acoustic ecology ‘tools’ for urban soundscape design are insufficiently equipped to deal with the soundscapes of the contemporary city. (This sits in contrast to acoustic ecology’s ongoing success in soundscape composition, field recording and the promotion of listening awareness through soundwalking and education programmes.) Acoustic ecology’s primary contribution to urban soundscape design (its tools) remains the lo-fi–hi-fi distinction, and the acoustic horizon concept that compliments it (the more hi-fi a soundscape, the greater its acoustic horizon). While this tool retains a degree of prominence within the sonic rupture model (as the Subtraction approach), it is also recognized that urban noises are primarily perceived by acoustic ecology as a negative expression that requires removal or management; consequently, the application of its approaches to a creative urban soundscape design practice, which hopes to reconfigure experiences of



urban noises, is limited. Overall, it is the view of this book that we need a new relationship with urban noise if we are to reveal those mythic, imaginative and poetic worlds that may populate our global cities.8 My creative practice research began as an acoustic ecology project, and it is hoped that the (positive) influence of acoustic ecology will be discernible throughout the book. In practice, the existing tools for soundscape design popular in the field were found to be inadequate when applied to the ubiquitous presence of urban noise. Through further field experiments, and exposure to a number of critiques of acoustic ecology that were, more or less, aligned to affective approaches, new understandings for urban soundscape design were revealed, which coagulated into the sonic rupture model. To reiterate, the criticisms aimed at acoustic ecology herein are related only to its approaches to urban soundscape design. Its work regarding soundscape composition, field recordings and education, which are other aspects of acoustic ecology, continue to evolve as rich fields of study and practice.

Referencing Nature In Chapter 2, a new term for ‘nature’ (a term equally as contentious as soundscape) is presented: the affective earth. The concept of the affective earth eschews the nature-urban duality, which tends to promote a negative image of the urban in favour of the idealized conditions of nature. Instead, rather than its antithesis, it considers the urban to be simply another expression of nature. It will be argued that the term ‘nature’ has been apotheosized by acoustic ecologists (and romantic environmentalisms in general), who hear in it such complex and beautiful soundscapes as the urban is incapable of replicating. However, this book will recalibrate this view, by suggesting that it is not the stuff of nature that needs to be recreated (bird sounds, trees) but the realization of its diverse affective potential in the urban.9 Operating as networks, sonic ruptures seek to expand the affective environments of the urban by ensuring a diversity that is equivalent to the subtle topographical and atmospheric shifts expressed by those planetary surfaces where functionalist imperatives (see following section) are absent. This approach is consistent with the affect theory


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described above. The affective earth concept considers all expressions of the land to be equal, with differences based on the range of affective potential that can be expressed. To generalize, increased affective potential may engender diverse environmental expressions (including the mythic), and imaginative and poetic realizations of the social body. The terms ‘nature’ and ‘affect’, both discussed in detail in Chapter 2, are connected to form the concept of the affective earth. In brief, nature is the creative unfolding of the Earth, and affect is the realization of the potential that drives these unfoldings. Accordingly, the term ‘affective earth’, synonymous with the term ‘nature’, is understood as the unfolding creative capacities of the Earth. This affective earth necessarily includes the urban, whose topography is described in Chapter 2 as an expanding urban crust.

Functionalist imperatives A limited range of sound types, especially motorized traffic, climate control systems, construction work and sirens are the sonic expressions of functions that have become imperative to urban life: motorized traffic delivers producers and consumers to work spaces and shopping centres; climate controllers ensure adequate atmospheres for those places in which production and consumption ensues; construction work continuously creates habitations for those engaged in the functioning of the city; and, sirens signify those state controls that secure our health and safety (or control our behaviours – depending on how you want to look at it). These four sound sources, while obviously not exclusive to the urban experience, have come to dominate the soundscapes of contemporary global cities and are considered in this work the sonic expressions of those functionalist imperatives that shape everyday life. It is worth noting that indoor spaces, while not an area of concern for an urban soundscape designer who is typically focused on outdoor public spaces, often use mood music (or Muzak) as a repetitive signifier to soothe space for  the creation of environments that encourage more efficient production and consumption. For instance, the company Mood offers ‘experience design’ which delivers ‘the power of audio video design and a comprehensive and consistent approach to customer experience management’.10 Pine and



Gilmore  (1998) describe these business prerogatives as those ‘experiences (which) have emerged as the next step in what we call the progression of economic value. From now on, leading-edge companies—whether they sell to consumers or businesses—will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences’ (p. 97). They go on to explain that these ‘experiences describe the connection, or environmental relationship, that unites customers with the event … immersed in the sights, sounds and smells that surround them’ (Ibid: 101). The insidiousness of such practices is an overt attempt to control behaviours through the design of atmospheres (be they soothing, energizing or even annoying: consider the dispersal of teenagers with classical music). Such spatial programming is now commonplace and definitely worthy of inclusion in sonic rupture practices. But in the present study, the focus is on those lands where the mythic can burst through to convey new, nonprogrammed experiences. For comprehensive discussions on the impact of Muzak and/or mood music on the urban experience, see Westerkamp (1988: 40–52) and LaBelle (2010: 171–4).

A consideration of causes Considering the cause of these all-consuming functionalist imperatives, of which the urban noises listed above are expressions, is an important question, but little time is spent pursuing them in this book beyond the ensuing paragraphs. More time is spent considering the affects they produce, which manifest as those repetitions of everyday rhythms (including noises) with which the sonic practitioner must interface while developing relationships with space. That modern society is increasingly automated (functionalized) has been well established by a number of twentieth-century philosophers. Examples include: Hannah Arendt’s discussions of the ‘danger of future automation’ (Arendt 1958: 132) describing the destructive cycles of production and consumption in which human society becomes subsumed; Michel de Certeau’s discussion of ‘functionalist totalitarianism’ (de Certeau 1984: 106), which obliterates the secretive shadows of the city; and Michel Serres’ description of the ‘fall into the similar’ (Serres 2007: 122), a meditation on the death-like qualities of homogeneity. Similarly, functionalist imperatives


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can be considered those forces that strive towards homogeneity, ensuring the cities of the world and the behaviours within become self-repeating (synonymous with the expanding urban crust). Stevens (2007) presents a more recent discussion that expresses similar concerns: ‘Cities are typically seen as the engines of modern economic life (and) are thus principally planned to optimize work and other practical, rational, preconceived objectives, and are designed accordingly, with even leisure space serving well-defined functions’11 (p. 5). The privileging of economic concerns by neo-liberal paradigms is an obvious cause of contemporary functionalist imperatives; however, it is not in the interests of this book to enter into the inevitable ideological debate that pursues such a claim. For instance, it seems equally reasonable to assume that the imperative to live a functional life would be just as strong in communist political systems as it is in capitalist political systems. Both require industrious populations and the efficient structuring of everyday life. Perhaps, rather than politics, can we point to some type of failed project of modernity as the source of those functionalist imperatives now shaping global cities? The purpose of such functionalism may be more understandable, perhaps even desirable, if all societies’ citizens were provided with fair and equal access to education, health and employment opportunities. And yet the world faces immanent catastrophe (climate change, the threat of war, increasing economic disparity) without any indication that the modern societal structures that perpetuate such conditions are in any way weakening. This scenario resonates with Arendt’s warnings of the ‘danger of future automation’, given that functionalist imperatives can be thought of as the daily repetitions to which we surrender.

The absence of functionalist imperatives It could be argued that indigenous cultures were free of imperatives beyond satisfying physical needs for sustenance and shelter. They were bound to the ‘unconstructed’ rhythms produced by their environment; their lands, which provided a daily life that varied with the seasons, the weather and the mythic countenances that pervaded cultural life. This view is consistent with the radical anthropologist Pierre Clastres, who had a strong influence on Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Nomadology’ and ‘Striated and Smooth Space’ concepts in



A Thousand Plateaus (concepts that find an important place in Chapter 2 of this book). In Clastres’ chapter ‘Society Against the State’ (1987) he writes ‘Men work more than their needs require only when forced to. And it is just that kind of force which is absent from the primitive world; the absence of that external force even defines the nature of primitive society’ (p. 195). The term ‘primitive’ is potentially offensive, given that it is often used to characterize an ‘under developed’ culture. But it would be unfair to make this accusation against Clastres. He is pointing out that societies dominated by State forces are compelled to live a life of servitude from which indigenous cultures (the ‘primitive’) were relatively free. So, returning to the question of causes, perhaps we can point to the ‘State’, the destroyer of international indigenous societies, as responsible for the emergence of functionalist imperatives? Benterrak et al. hint at something similar in their discussions of nomadic life in Northwestern Australia, which draws comparisons with Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology concept. In their book Reading the Country they write, ‘Nomadology … is an aesthetic/political stance constantly in flight from ideas or practices associated with the singular, the original, the uniform, the central authority, the hierarchy’ (Benterrak, Muecke and Roe 1996: 20). In line with these thinkers, functionalist imperatives can be understood as forces that destroy land-based cultures to produce societies subservient to systems, which are in turn responsible for the shaping of space into predictable and repeating forms. Compare the ongoing replication of the global city and its inhabitants to the staggering diversity of indigenous cultures, each presenting unique social expressions, including those multiplicitous dreamings that shape everyday reality into something creative and alive. Comparatively, those functionalist imperatives that increasingly dominate everyday life in our global cities cause the repetition of homogenous forms and events – Serres’ fall into the similar.

The question of capitalism Two theorists, whose ideas have influenced the ‘functionalist imperative’ concept – Felix Guattari and Henri Lefebvre – were, in different ways, both highly critical of the homogenizing impact of capitalism on environments and societies. Although the concept of the functionalist imperative does not focus


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on capitalism as the sole generator of these forces, Guattari and Lefebvre’s critiques remain relevant to the present conversation. The difference being that, for them, the culprit was capitalism, whereas in this book the benefit of naming a culprit is questioned. For both authors, a residual belief in the power of political revolution is discernible; in the contemporary political climate, it is increasingly difficult to see how capitalism (or its most recent manifestation, neo-liberalism) could be defeated by a competing political system. It is more likely to destroy itself given its excessive need for accumulation and exploitation, which inevitably eat away its own base, both materially and socially. Functionalist imperatives, therefore, are considered operational forces that must be contended with, rather than systems to be overthrown. This type of thinking is beginning to take hold. For example, Paul Mason’s (2015) book Postcapitalism: A Guide to our Future suggests that Capitalism, which was triumphant over revolutionary left-wing ideals, will ‘be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours’.12 Similarly, the pragmatic push in this book is to weave rupture into the mechanisms of functionalisms. This can be seen as an attempt to dissolve the forces of functionalisms, not as revolutionary acts, but in the viral sense of a gradual – or summary – internal transformation.13 As will become clear, this argument is consistent with certain philosophies of Guattari (a-signifying rupture) and Lefebvre (new natures), which includes possibilities for spatial and social transformations.

An affective approach It is thus the diminutive affects of functional imperatives on societies’ capacities for creative expression that is of concern here, rather than analysing the political systems that generate these forces. The role of the urban soundscape designer is to expand the affective potential of the urban, which means identifying and disrupting the urban rhythms that dominate our experiences: This is activism. To quote O’Sullivan (2006), ‘we might say that the artist is simply he or she who has seen “beyond” those already given signifying formations and affective assemblages – and is able to offer up new ones’ (p. 55). The creative practitioner (or artist) acts to disperse functionalist imperatives for the emergence of the



new. It is by limiting the range of possible environments and experiences in our cities that functionalist imperatives are able to reduce expressions to mundane daily repetition14: the working day, the commute, safety restrictions, controlled mobility, weekend consumerism, even those holidays woven into the everyday that act as escapes from its very conditions. Indeed, many of us desire the comforts that repetition and predictably provide. However, it is argued that when functionalist imperatives become dominant, as they increasingly have, we encounter situations where human creativity is at risk of extirpation in everyday settings. A final point: the temporary dispersal of functionalist imperatives by a sonic rupture requires participation by the public who encounter it. Indeed, the creativity sought by the sonic rupture is something our bodies and imaginations can perform precisely within the context of the everyday. Ruptures are not passively received; some type of engagement is required, whether listening, gesture or imagination. By summoning the performative body, the dominance of functionalist imperatives is questioned. It must be stressed that networks of sonic ruptures are not to be extensively curated; they are unique environmental dispersals of functionalism for the temporary upwelling of creativity. Experience is in no way controlled or programmed (which would make networks of sonic ruptures another function); it is simply given space to emerge. To reiterate, it is not the intention of this book to call for an end to the functions of urban life, but to suggest ways in which creative expressions and functionalist imperatives might co-evolve in the development of future cities.

Understanding ‘rupture’ Where the affects of the city are identified as having being homogenized by functionalist imperatives, ‘ruptures’ act to diversify affective potential within delimited environmental loci (the ‘acoustic horizon’ of an operative sound installation). Rupture is considered to be an act of affective politics (discussed in Chapter 1) in which the range of affective potential in a given environment is expanded. This is not to be confused with an aesthetic act that seeks to beautify the soundscape; rather, sound installations weave in and out of extant sounds to diversify experiences. When soundscapes are considered to produce


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banal and repetitive experiences for those who must traverse these spaces on a daily basis, the sonic rupture aims to augment the soundscape such that new experiences might be encountered. Given this political dimension, we might consider the sonic rupture to be an ethical act that intends to augment human experience by challenging the experientially diminutive affects of functionalist imperatives. As such, the practitioner becomes not merely a maker; he or she becomes an activist and ethicist seeking to augment both environments and the human experience. The rupture concept itself, from which the sonic rupture is derived, is discussed in Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies (2008).15 In this book he argues for an ethico-political articulation (what he calls ‘ecosophy’) ‘between the three ecological registers – environment, social relations and human subjectivity’ (p.  19). Regarding rupture, Guattari states: ‘At the heart of all ecological praxes there is an a-signifying rupture, in which the catalysts of existential change are close at hand, but lack expressive support from the assemblage of enunciation’ (Ibid: 30). His statement lies at the heart of this book’s understanding of sonic rupture,16 which, as understood here, provides the possibility for new relationships that connect the body (social or individual) and the land (environment). Rupturing the everyday in global cities momentarily disperses the tyranny of repetition in favour of the emergence of the new. To explain this, the following points provide a technical description that clearly articulates exactly how the sonic rupture concept works (the act of rupture is something intuitive and poetic, which will be explored as such in Chapter 1): 1. Functionalist imperatives ensure that specific sounds are spatially and temporally located, and repeat on a day-to-day basis. For example, the daily commute, within a given range of variability, will more or less provide the same sound types at the same location every day.17 This is not to downplay the dynamism of sound; but simply to point out that urban infrastructures geographically fix sound-producing artefacts, which ensures a certain spatial and temporal fixity. 2. The consequence of being subsumed by the same, often overwhelming, sounds day after day is to withdraw, or become alienated, from everyday life (see Chapter 1).18



3. These banal forms, both environmental and experiential, are concomitant with the prevention of creative expression and its associated impacts on social health and well-being (e.g. social fragmentation, disconnection, loneliness, isolation). 4. Sound installations that emerge from the existing conditions of space can create ‘a-signifying ruptures’ (the absence of signifiers) by dispersing those fixed sounds, which signify the control of the everyday by functionalist imperatives. 5. The dispersal of functionalism is the rupture, within which Guattari’s existential changes (changes to everyday existence) might emerge. 6. The ‘assemblage of enunciation’19 is understood in the present argument as both the replicating patterns of speech and gestures that spread across social bodies, and the fixed repetition of urban sounds. 7. Assemblages of enunciation that have come to dominate social bodies can be challenged within a rupture; in that moment, emergent affects produce new social and imaginative relations within newly expressive sound environments. 8. In this moment, assemblages of enunciation are diversified by morphing them into collections of individuated realizations.20 Upon the removal of the installation, the environment returns to its original reductive conditions, where the sounds that signify functionalist imperatives, and thus the homogenized assemblages of enunciation, reset into familiar forms. It is possible that after the removal of a sound installation, the emergent affects, which were produced by the preceding rupture, may remain as an imaginative and/or emotional trace within those who encountered the rupture. Through ongoing encounters with the city, the reimagining of everyday sounds may continue to challenge assemblages of enunciation beyond the environmental loci of the initial sound installation.21 By reclaiming human creativity, the sonic rupture seeks to challenge social and environmental homogeneity (assemblages of enunciation reduced to repeating forms), which in turn might lead to the diversification of the other ecological registers. For example, a society able to appreciate and value their own relationships with the cities in which they live, might extend this positive affirmation beyond urban borders into the (remaining) diverse environments of the Earth. Guattari is


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referred to only sparingly in the remainder of this book; however, the reader should keep in mind that his discussion on rupture, and his ecosophical perspective, retains influence throughout.

Book structure The book comprises four chapters. The first two are largely theoretical. Sequentially, they set out to define the proposed practice-led approach to urban soundscape design, and the concept of the affective earth as related to the creation of new natures. The final two chapters discuss practice. They discuss the creative practice research process, and the sonic rupture model that emerged from this research. The book has been written so that both experts and non-experts can access the enclosed concepts and practical approaches, as much as possible. A number of academic references and explanatory notes have been included in the footnotes. It is recommended that the reader seeking substantiations of the claims made look to the footnotes for clarification. Chapter 1 provides thorough descriptions of the most important terms related to a sonic rupture practice. It sets out to define the proposed urban soundscape design method, and to immediately orientate the relationship between practitioner and space as being central to this definition. A balance is foregrounded between the pragmatic use of certain terms (particularly ‘soundscape’) that have been challenged in recent academic discourse, and the more abstract language of affect that pervades the arguments and approaches proposed within this book. The term ‘soundscape’ is given detailed analysis due to its foregrounding in this work, and the multiple critiques directed at the concept. This ensures that practical engagement with political bodies that utilize the term is balanced with recent developments in academic sound studies. Chapter 2 introduces the concept of the affective earth, which is a reworking of the term ‘nature’. The term ‘affective earth’ suggests a ubiquitous underlying creative drive as being responsible for all emergences. This new term has been introduced for three reasons. First, it seeks to engage with, and supersede, numerous challenges directed at acoustic ecology without abandoning a



central tenet of the acoustic ecology movement and other nature-based movements – the importance of imaginative, poetic and creative expression to our social health and well-being. Secondly, it seeks to locate a common process underlying the formation of the natural, rural and urban, without abandoning the distinctions between these categories. This is achieved by using the language of affect, which proposes a common underlying creativity to all emergences. Thirdly, it seeks to create a link between contemporary urban and indigenous societies by way of foregrounding the relationships between societies and the lands on which they dwell. All three reasons concatenate in the sonic rupture’s intention to reaffirm interrelationships between social bodies and the affective earth. Chapter 3 is written in the first person. It is a detailed description of the creative practice research that forms the bulk of the fieldwork that led to the theoretical arguments presented in the first half of this book, and the sonic rupture model presented in the final chapter. Seven projects are discussed, five of which form a specific recursive process – from noise removal to noise mediations – and two of which are bifurcations from the main recursive process. This chapter details the tools, challenges and knowledge contained within each project, and the process by which each subsequently unfolding project was achieved. The content of this chapter will be of primary interest to sonic practitioners, and there is no reason why this chapter cannot be read in isolation to the other chapters. If the reader does engage with the first two chapters, Chapter 3 will provide insights into how the theory was beginning to emerge in practice before actualizing as the concepts presented herein. This chapter includes forty-two images that help illustrate the process by which the creative works were realized. There is also a companion site22 in which thirty-two audio samples, a mixture of studio examples and field recordings, have been uploaded. These are referred to throughout Chapter 3. Chapter 4 describes the knowledge that emerged from the creative practice research discussed in Chapter 3. It presents a sonic rupture model, in which five approaches to urban soundscape design and ten spatial intentions of the sonic practitioner are outlined. The model is in no way prescriptive; it is a tool that can be applied by sonic practitioners in diverse ways to realize


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sound installations in public urban spaces. A range of international works by sound artists, architects, sculptors and composers are discussed that reflect the possible scope of the proposed approaches. Included in the model are concepts introduced in the first two chapters, and the discussion of practice in Chapter  3. Accordingly, the sonic rupture model acts as both a tool for practitioner-led urban soundscape design, and as an encapsulation of the arguments – theoretical and practical – presented by this book.

A note on the challenges of qualifying creative practice Marrying practice and theory is the somewhat awkward responsibility of every creative practitioner. Theoretical research is the domain of reading philosophers, literary theorists and academics in general. On the other hand, artists and creative practitioners must produce new knowledge through what they create and how they create it. Creative practice researchers typically find themselves straddling these two worlds in an attempt to articulate the creative process that leads to new theory. It is not for me to try and resolve the complexities of this issue, or even to justify such a multifaceted approach to research. However, I will comment on why I choose to contend with such a dynamic. The studios in which my research was conducted (see acknowledgements) interfaces with multiple spatial and ecological theorists, a number of whom are mentioned in this book. I was reading the ideas of these theorists while in the process of making. There were moments while making, and reflecting on the impacts of the making process, that theoretical fragments would come to life: they would leap into my consciousness, all of a moment, and become real. Tackling critical theory, which is a largely abstract encounter, can be challenging; yet what I found while making is that these abstractions would take a solid mental form within my own consciousness while I was engaged in physical and reflective activities. Some theory explored in the first half of this book will not necessarily stand up to intensive scrutiny (for instance, affect theory literature is far reaching and my own selective sources are limited by comparison). I happily admit



this. Instead, the reader is asked to approach these theoretical explorations as a consequence of a creative exercise in and of itself. In particular, Chapter 2 presents broad theoretical discussions that range from the planetary to the intimacy of the self; a number of theorists have been engaged to accomplish these aims. This is not some vain attempt to reveal ‘the truth’; rather, this is a creative rendering of the synthesis of theoretical investigations and real-world ‘on-the-ground’ making that has been an ongoing feature of the work that comprises this book. If nothing else, the theory contained in this book can be seen as the ruminations of an artist attempting to apprehend the totality of creative experience: a swirling nexus of making, reading, reflecting and interfacing with the micropolitics of everyday life. I like to think of this as theoretical storytelling, which acts as an adjunct to the making that defines a creative practitioner’s research. In particular, the theory in Chapter 2 might be read as a dreaming, albeit an academic one. A dreaming that has emerged out of my own intimate relationship with the city, one that I hope will resonate with other creative practitioners engaged in the ongoing project of reconfiguring the everyday.

Notes 1 In his book The Ludic City, Quentin Stevens captures this sentiment well: ‘Urbanism without a certain degree of cosmopolitanism (interactions among diverse individuals) is just a mass of completely unconnected, alienated strangers. It is in public open spaces that people are best able and most likely to engage with the social diversity gathered together in cities’ (p. 5). 2 Theories and studies of affect have risen to prominence over the last decade. This trend was recently investigated at the 14–17 October 2015 ‘Affect Theory Conference: Worldings, Tensions, Futures’ in Millersville University’s Ware Centre, Lancaster, PA, which gathered ‘together many of the leading and emerging voices that have helped give contour and texture to the contemporary discourses of affect’ ( For a discussion of the relation of affect theory and sound, see Will Schrimshaw’s (2013) ‘Noncochlear sound: On Affect and Exteriority’ (particularly in relation to Deleuze and Guattari); for an interdisciplinary investigation of affect theory approaches,


Sonic Rupture see Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seigworth’s (2010) The Affect Theory Reader; Brian Massumi’s (2010) ‘The Autonomy of Affect’ connects the ideas of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Gilbert Simondon and Baruch Spinoza in relation to affect theory.

3 This was expressed by Indigenous land custodians – the Culpra Milli Aboriginal Corporation – at a mapping workshop, Interpretive Wonderings, on Culpra Station, Euston NSW. The workshop was a collaboration between Culpra Milli Aboriginal Corporation, Campbell Drake (UTS) and Jock Gilbert (RMIT), which ran from the 11–13 September 2015. Due to ethics regulations (speaking of functionalist imperatives) I am unable to disclose the conversant or provide an exact transcription of the shared conversation, although the reader can be assured that the included text appropriately translates the conversation. For more information about the workshop, see (accessed 29 October 2015). 4 For another study that draws connections between Australian indigenous cultures and Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions of nomadology, see Benterrak, Muecke and Roe (1996). 5 This is not to downplay the keen obersativaltional talents of Australian Aboriginal people, whose scientific insights are only now being recognized. For example, see Norris, R. (2014), ‘Aboriginal scientific achievements recognized at last’, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 23. Availabe online: http:// (accessed 2 Janurary 2015). 6 For instance, see Tim Edensor’s (2012) paper ‘Illuminated atmospheres: anticipating and reproducing the flow of affective experience in Blackpool’, in which he discusses ‘the flow of affect and emotion in place’ (p. 1103). He provides an informative range of references regarding a discussion that suggests pre-personal approaches to affect neglect the social and relational aspects of affect (Ibid., 1105). 7 For example, the Positive Soundscape Project (PSP), an interdisciplinary study measuring the relationships between soundscapes and human perception wrote that ‘the strong focus of traditional engineering acoustics on reducing noise levels ignores the many possibilities for characterizing positive aspects of the soundscape’ (Cain et al. 2008: 3262). 8 I wrote an article for ‘The Conversation’, published on the 19 of August 2015, that used this exact title. See (accessed 27 October 2015).



9 I have discussed this position in a previous work. See Lacey (2013a) ‘Designing Urban Soundscapes for the Effects of Nature’. 10 See (accessed 27 October 2015). 11 Stevens also provides a useful overview of contemporary theorists ‘who illuminate a “non-functional” understanding of the use and design of public space’ (p. 1). 12 Paul Mason wrote an extensive article about his book for the Guardian newspaper (17 July 2015) from which this quote was taken. See http://www. (accessed 26 October 2015). In the book itself, Mason discusses the rise of a new kind of person called ‘the networked individual, who is the bearer of the postcapitalist society that could now emerge’ (2015: 144), and that ‘everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy, between old forms of society moulded around capitalism and new forms of society that prefigure what comes next’ (Ibid: xix). There are commonalities between this idea and those contained in the present argument, particularly the focus on networks and their role in creating new types of social relations. 13 For a comprehensive analysis linking affect and capitalism, see Thrift (2008), who ‘combine(s) … related bodies of work (to) focus on the vexed topic of affect, understood especially as a function of the workings of capitalism’ (p. 235), particularly by applying the concept of ‘affective contagion’ to the political sphere (a point that will be revisited in Chapter 1). 14 The concept of repetition employed here draws from Henri Lefebvre’s book, Rhythmanalysis. He divides everyday repetition into linear and cyclical repetitions. Functionalist imperatives create machine-like linear repetitions, with each repetition identical to the last. Alternatively, cyclical repetitions create new expressions with every repetition. He writes, ‘while mechanical (linear) repetition works by reproducing the instant that precedes it, (cyclical) rhythm preserves both the measure that initiates the process and the re-commencement of this process with modifications, therefore with its multiplicity and plurality’ (Lefebvre 2004: 79). However, the two are always found in mixture; ‘cyclical repetition and the linear repetitive separate out under analysis, but in reality interfere with one another constantly’ (Ibid: 8). Everyday life in global cities can be thought as cyclical repetition (day-to-day life) subsumed by the linear (the replication of each subsequent day). Networks of sonic ruptures weave diversity into the everyday by creating new environments where repetitions vary rather


Sonic Rupture than self-replicate. For further discussion on the application of rhythmanalysis to urban soundscape design, see Lacey (2014b).

15 The concept originally appears in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus as the a-signifying rupture. See Deleuze and Guattari (2004: 10–12). 16 For further discussion on Guattari’s relationship to urban soundscape design, see Lacey (2013b: 4–6) and Lacey (2014b: 92–5). 17 This viewpoint is reflected by the geographer, Rowland Atkinson, who discusses the ‘“stickiness” of sound in places [such as] urban commuting flows in cars [which] gives sound its ecology, or relative fixity, even as its complexity and relatively unbounded nature need to be acknowledged’ (Atkinson 2007: 1906). 18 This point is consistent with Barry Truax’s ‘withdrawn, alienated listener’ (Truax 2001: 97). 19 This concept originally appears in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (2004), in which the term has broad metaphysical meanings and applications. In the present argument, this term refers to repetitive expressions that spread across social bodies. This application of the concept relates to Guattari’s activist intentions, made clear in The Three Ecologies, which seek to connect issues of environmental diversity with diverse individual and social expressions; for example, ‘It is not only species that are becoming extinct but also the words, phrases, and gestures of human solidarity.’ (Guattari 2008: 29). For a comprehensive and clear discussion of the broader metaphysical implications of Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘collective assemblage of enunciation’ see Roffe (2015). 20 In fact, Guattari states that this is the desired expression of a social body: ‘Individuals must become both more united and increasingly different’ (Guattari 2008: 45). 21 Centre for research on sonic space and urban environment (CRESSON) has a sound effect to explain this very phenomenon. It is referred to as ‘anamnesis’, which is ‘the often involuntary revival of memory caused by listening and the evocative power of sounds’ (Augoyard and Torgue 2005: 21). 22 See: (accessed 6 November 2015).


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This chapter presents terminology central to the act of creating sonic ruptures. This terminology seeks to balance the pragmatic aspects related to engaging government bodies and industry with the need to align soundscape design concepts with recent advances in sound studies. The sonic rupture has a simple goal, which can be understood as two simultaneous moments: 1. The environment of a specific location in a city is recreated by the presence of an operative sound installation. 2. Those who encounter the recreated environment are afforded the opportunity to experience the city in new ways. Thus, a sonic rupture simultaneously recreates an environment and reconfigures experience. Importantly, this process begins with relationships. Entering into a relationship with the city requires the creative practitioner to be present in the moment and connected with the immediate. This causes an affective interchange between environment and practitioner, from which installations are born. A network of sonic ruptures, as explained in the following section, is proposed as an urban soundscape design programme. The term ‘network’, as it is used here, is suggestive of an interconnection of multiple and discrete sound installations dispersed across a city. These are non-hierarchical arrangements that together (by the nature of their existence) seek to diversify relationships between urban dwellers and the environments that they inhabit. Each rupture seeks change, particularly the evocation of imaginative capacities to challenge the reductive tendencies of everyday life.


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An urban soundscape design programme In the present study, soundscape design is the weaving of relationships between sonic environments and human experiences, where sonic environments are considered to affect physiological changes and imaginative expressions across social bodies; and the urban is defined as those global cities, in which human habitation is increasingly concentrated. A new, practitioner-led urban soundscape design programme is proposed that seeks to establish networks of sonic ruptures, where each rupture, operating within a citywide network, is a localized intervention that reshapes the immediate sonic environment and enables experiential diversity. A network of sonic ruptures is politically sanctioned and geographically specific. Each rupture point is predicated on a creative relationship between practitioner and the immediate sonic environment. This is a unique approach to urban (sonic) planning that designs creative (sonic) encounters and imaginative evocations within urban space that are otherwise homogenized by functionalist imperatives.1 Functionalist imperatives are the repetitive everyday behaviours expressed by our bodies and urban environments that contribute to the ongoing efficiency and productivity of our cities. In the case of urban soundscapes, this refers primarily to the traffic and air-conditioning sounds that dominate the global sonic city (see introduction for a detailed discussion of functionalist imperatives). A network of sonic ruptures consists of a multiplicity of points rather than a hierarchically managed programme. Each point is a locus of creative activity in which the relationship between creative practitioner and the sounds of the locale forms the conditions for rupture. The rupture maintains longevity as an operative sound installation, which affects ongoing dynamic relations between space,2 sound and social body. A sonic rupture seeks to reshape noise, which is the dominant expression of city soundscapes. As will be made clear, the rupture does not judge noise; rather, it recognizes noise as the ubiquitous environmental condition of the urban that must be diversified if the contemporary city is to afford creative encounters. The homogenizing sonic condition of noise is an expression of the functionalist tendencies of urban cities, which affect banal everyday experiences (e.g. the repeating

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sound motifs of the daily commute). It is the intention of each sonic rupture to disperse those homogenizing sonic conditions that have functionalized human experience; for this reason, establishing a network of sonic ruptures might be considered a political act, as will be discussed in the final passage of this chapter, ‘Affective Politics’.

Defining ‘soundscape’ Although it will be noted that the term ‘soundscape’ has been immediately foregrounded in this work, it would be impossible to ignore the fact that this term has become problematic for a range of theorists and practitioners in recent years (see below). The proposed urban soundscape design programme retains the term for two reasons. First, it is politically expedient. Regardless of its philosophical problematics, the word has entered the political lexicon as a signifier for noise pollution concerns and the possibility presented by design to address those concerns. The World Health Organization (WHO)3 and the European Union (EU)4 recognize the problem of noise pollution on human health and well-being, and the possible resolution of this problem through soundscape design. Similar positions have been reached by other organizations, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO),5 the US National Park Service6 and the City of Melbourne.7 Secondly, the term is useful as a planning tool, as it easily translates into geographic and topographical mappings of cities, which is essential for citywide programming. Both reasons are admittedly pragmatic, but without the attention and support of centralized bureaucracies, public-focused creative practitioners will be permanently relegated to that of the temporarily funded artist. The goal here is to create permanent sites, manifested by creative processes, which afford ongoing experiential diversity. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved without the support of political bodies, including their adopted lexicons. Nevertheless, the term ‘soundscape’ cannot be understood without a proper discussion of its philosophical problematics. These will be addressed, followed by the introduction of a new term, affective sonic ecology, which is proposed as an alternative definitional understanding of ‘soundscape’.


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Critiques of the term ‘soundscape’ Criticism aimed at the term ‘soundscape’ typically takes issue with its improper characterization of environmental sounds as something akin to an aesthetic object, which is external to the subject who judges it. The term ‘soundscape’ is often used aesthetically. Often it is employed to describe the virtues of natural soundscapes in comparison to the poorer qualities of urban soundscapes. Alternatively, a number of contemporary voices are calling for a perception of environmental (particularly urban) sound that is affective, dynamic and creative. This resonates with similar issues related to the term ‘landscape’, which brings to mind framed paintings on the walls of galleries and lounge rooms; the word landscape seems to denote an idealistic representation of the external world, rendered as a consumable image,8 rather than something sensual, atmospheric, immersive and unbounded, something expressive and evolving, which continuously and uniquely affects our bodies and its perceptions. Similarly, common notions of the term ‘soundscape’ may obscure the idea that sonic environments are unfolding, dynamic aural and vibratory immersive fields that continuously affect our experiences, rather than something external to the perceiver that can be judged for its aesthetic values. Before examining a number of critiques of the concept, we begin with a reminder that the term, as originally understood by the WSP,9 is more flexible and open to interpretation than many of its detractors seem to recognize. The Handbook for Acoustic Ecology states that a soundscape ‘depends on the relationship between the individual and any such environment (and that) … the creation, improvement or modelling of any such environment is a matter of soundscape design’ (Truax 1999). Implicit in this definition is a flexibility and creative opportunity rarely attributed to the term as it was originally applied by the WSP. However, to complicate matters, the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology states elsewhere that soundscape is similar to, if not synonymous with, the terms ‘acoustic ecology’ and ‘soundscape ecology’.10 This lack of definitional clarification makes the claims of the WSP – and the domain of acoustic ecology in general – vulnerable to criticism. It also risks confusing those sonic practitioners who wish to apply acoustic ecology concepts to an urban soundscape design practice. Despite these definitional ambiguities, as made

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clear by the above quote, relationships are central to its definition of soundscape. It states that acoustic ecology is concerned with relationships between people and their sonic environments, while soundscape design is considered an act of creation that can affect the experiencing of such relationships. Applying this definition to an urban soundscape design practice suggests a broader relevance of acoustic ecology than many of its critics, who call for new understandings of sonic experiences, would have us believe. Scholars in contemporary sound studies, who have criticized the soundscape concept as one that is unhelpfully judgemental of the urban,11 include: Agostino Di Scipio, Björn Hellström, Brandon LaBelle, Christoph Cox, Greg Hainge and Steve Goodman. When considered collectively, their criticisms present challenges to certain conceptions of soundscape introduced by the WSP. This book responds to such criticisms, through practice (as detailed in Chapter 3), by reimagining the soundscape concept through theories of affect. Before this can be achieved, however, several critiques of the concept are presented. Steve Goodman locates acoustic ecology in a broader ‘politics of silence (which) assumes a conservative guise and promotes itself as quasi-spiritual and nostalgic for a return to the natural’ (Goodman 2010: 191). It should be noted that Goodman is equally critical of the ‘politics of noise’. He replaces these dualistic accounts with an ‘ecology of vibrational affects’ (Ibid: xvii), which describes an immersive sonic continuum that affects corporeal and incorporeal responses across populations. By conceiving of sound as a vibrational field, Goodman eschews language-based judgements as to the aesthetic qualities of sound. Instead, Goodman’s term provides a material basis (in the sense that sound requires materials for its transmission) for understanding the affects that sounds can produce. As described below, a particularly powerful description of these affects is the ‘ecology of fear’. As such, Goodman is one of a number of contemporary voices calling for a non-anthropocentric, emergent and expressive understanding of sound, which ceases to be considered from a phenomenological perspective (human-centred) and becomes instead affective (networks of interconnected bodies). Somewhat similarly, sonic philosopher Christoph Cox reconfigures our understanding of urban sound by redefining noise. In so doing, he dismisses typical silence-versus-noise arguments, by claiming that noise is a type of


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ground of being from which all significant sounds emerge. He conceives of noise, or background sounds, as an ever-flowing flux, from which emerges the sensible signals of music and speech (Cox 2009: 20). For Cox, noise is a creative medium from which the sensible is derived. Greg Hainge has recently expressed a similar argument by enlisting the philosopher Michel Serres’ meditations on noise, claiming that noise is a type of abstract ground of being from which everything emerges (not just sensible sounds). He extends the argument to other media such as film and typeface. He argues for an ontology of noise, where noise does not sit in opposition to music, or silence, but is the basis of all ‘expressive assemblages’ (Hainge 2013: 15). What can be discerned, broadly speaking, in the viewpoints of Goodman, Cox and Hainge is a conception of noise, not as a negative expression that needs to be eliminated, but as a ground of being that creatively affects a dynamic world. Their thinking opens up the possibility for urban soundscape design methods that creatively engage with noisy urban soundscapes. In his book Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art, Brandon LaBelle provides a thoughtful overview of the acoustic ecology project, particularly in his discussions of the works of Hildegard Westerkamp. He touches on the mythic intentions of acoustic ecology, describing their search for the ur-sound.12 This acknowledgement of acoustic ecology’s capacity to engage with the mythic and poetic is also found in the concept of sonic rupture, which will be discussed in the following chapter. LaBelle brings attention to the uneasy relationship acoustic ecology has with urban noise. He comments ‘that acoustic ecology may pass judgement on noise as negative is to fall short of recognizing it as part of the sound world, if not potentially its most expressive moment’ (LaBelle 2006: 214). Like Goodman, Cox and Hainge, it seems reasonable to assume that LaBelle is seeking new ways to engage with urban sounds, particularly its noises. It is notable that LaBelle gives less attention to acoustic ecology in his book Acoustic Territories, which explores urban sounds as cultural and sociological expressions within the context of six urban territories. As acoustic ecology tends to be critical of noisy urban soundscapes rather than creatively responsive to extant urban conditions, there are presumably fewer contributions to discuss in the context of contemporary urban soundscape practices than there would be in the context of (gallery-based) sound art

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practices. However, he does make reference to the role of acoustic ecology in developing soundwalking as a method to ‘encourage a deeper, more sensitive approach to location, based on actively exploring specific environments through walking and listening’ (LaBelle 2010: 104). Soundwalking is an educational tool that strengthens our listening perceptions that may well be employed by the sonic practitioner in developing his or her relationship with space (as part of the process-of-musicality, which is discussed below). Agostino Di Scipio, noted composer and sonic researcher, critiques the term ‘soundscape’ from the perspective of concert-based soundscape compositions. He describes these works as ‘a strategy of separation and objectification when playing-back, in adequately equipped concert rooms, sound recorded in places foreign to the particular room’, which Di Scipio says is akin to ‘sonic tourism’ (Di Scipio 2014: 12). There is a sense here that by orchestrating worlds of fantasy (albeit fantasies of delight and wonder) that soundscape compositions are attempts to escape the unwanted (qua noisy) conditions of the urban: they evoke escapism, from what is (a point that will be taken up more comprehensively in Chapter 2). Paradoxically, concert halls (their construction, infrastructure and maintenance) in which soundscape compositions are played are a product of the very conditions their cloistered listening spaces seek to provide an escape from. Furthermore, it would be impossible to enjoy the idealized listening conditions of soundscape compositions without those same technologies (loudspeakers and computers) that have led to the everyday noisy soundscapes from which we seek to escape (in a word, machine-sounds).13 The point being, noise is a very real, and inescapable, condition of the urban. Acoustic ecologists who are critical of the state of contemporary urban soundscapes may be at risk of accusations of inconsistency when using sonic devices that belong to the very technological system responsible for the generation of noise; speakers and air conditioners are both sound-making artefacts, after all. To summarize these various criticisms of the soundscape concept as introduced by acoustic ecology, we turn to Björn Hellström, who has successfully implemented multiple electroacoustic urban sound installations (see Chapter 4). In his book Noise Design, he suggests that acoustic ecology is ‘based upon more or less classical-romantic aesthetics (in which) one can


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discern a hostile attitude towards … urban life’ (Hellström 2003: 20). Again, similar to the above thinkers, there is a desire to reorientate our attitudes towards urban noises such that we might begin to creatively interact with existent conditions rather than wishing for more aesthetically pleasing environmental sounds. However, it is notable that in later publications Hellström came to express a more nuanced use of the term, one more conducive to its original use by the WSP. In a paper entitled ‘Acoustic design artifacts and methods for urban soundscapes: a case study on the qualitative dimensions of sounds’ (2012), he states that ‘in major European cities, noise levels are so high that the majority of urban parks can no longer truly serve as recreational environments, a problem the WHO and EU are attempting to address’ (p. 1). As discussed above, both the WHO and the EU consider soundscape design as a method for dealing with the problems of urban noise. Hellström’s use of the term ‘soundscape’, despite his earlier criticisms, demonstrates its importance in contemporary political discourse. This is testimony to the original political activist intentions of the WSP research, which sought to make society aware of the importance of listening and the concomitant design of healthy soundscapes. Similar to Hellström, by employing the soundscape term in this book, it has been accepted that while the concept presents some philosophical problems, its political expediency, when it comes to practice, is indispensable.

Is the term ‘soundscape’ useful? The term ‘soundscape’ has been challenged by a number of practitioners and researchers who are seeking a conception of sound that is free from aesthetic judgement. As suggested above, this view is discernible in philosophical, musical and sociological domains, all of which search for new ways to absorb the concept and experience of noise into their lexicons, philosophies and practices. In dealing with this problem, new terms have been introduced that understand all sound, more or less, as an ecological material, particularly in regard to its capacity to facilitate relations across multiple bodies. Terms including ‘sound affect’, ‘sound event’, ‘ecology of vibrational affects’, ‘audible ecosystems’, ‘acoustic (or sonic) atmospheres’ and ‘sound-as-flux’ have been

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added to the mix.14 Collectively, these terms define sound as something dynamic, unfolding, immersive and affective. As mentioned above, the reasons for maintaining the term ‘soundscape’ in this book are mostly pragmatic: soundscape retains its importance as both a political and a design term, given its importance to organizations such as the European Union and the WHO, and other diverse organizations including the American National Park Association and the City of Melbourne. While the term has been philosophically challenged, ‘soundscape’ is very much alive, politically. However, in keeping with the arguments presented above, and to remain consistent with the affective approach taken by this book, a new term is introduced that attempts to integrate the above terms with the soundscape concept: affective sonic ecology.

Affective sonic ecologies As discussed, the sonic rupture concept considers the urban sound environment to be an affective medium, and thus, corresponds closely with a broad range of theorists who reposition sound as something immanent and ecological. Soundscapes, in the present work, might be better understood as ‘affective sonic ecologies’. However, any attempt to create new understandings of the ‘soundscape’ concept must retain the mythic implications of the acoustic ecology definition: the soundscape, and our listening to it, has the capacity to profoundly connect us to our immediate environment, by creating relationships in which those mythic15 expressions that are central to humanity’s health and well-being might be realized.16 It is interesting to note that sonic philosopher, Salomé Voegelin, who connects theories of sound art with the possibilities of the auditory imagination, also weaves an acoustic ecology sensibility into her work. Her theories provide a ‘framework from which to explore the landscape as an environment and ourselves within it [with] consequences for everyday listening, soundscape studies, field recording, acoustic ecology, and soundscape composition’ (Voegelin 2014: 47). In her book Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (2010), she writes the ‘sonic life-world … grasp(s) us as we hear it, pulling us into an


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auditory imagination’ (p. 12). Similarly, the possible imaginative expressions and mythic sensibilities of acoustic ecology are found in the ‘affective sonic ecology’ definition. ‘Sonic’ suggests something physical, experiential and immanent, rather than the quantitative and objective implications of the term ‘acoustic’.17 And ‘ecology’, rather than a romantic notion suggestive of a perfect natural place ‘out there’ (a point that will be elaborated in Chapter 2), is understood as the interconnection between living and non-living things in the here and now. As such, the sonic ecology concept privileges the immediate presence of sound as it is rather than as it should be. Rather than aesthetically judging the sounds we perceive, we consider the bodily affects of existent sounds and how those sounds might be augmented to produce more diverse affects within the bodies that come into contact with them. As Chapters  3 and 4 will demonstrate, by making this shift, urban noises become an interface for creative action rather than solely an environmental concern requiring intervention. This is not to say that noise isn’t an environmental issue that requires attention, but that its consideration becomes plural: the practitioner can also treat it as a creative material. Perhaps controversially, the term suggests that no sonic ecology is of greater value than any other sonic ecology. A laneway strewn with rubbish-bin rumblings and air-conditioning humming holds as much affective potential as the magisterial stretches of a rainforest. The significant difference between these examples is that although all ecologies are affective, some ecologies are more diverse in their affects than others. The question becomes thus: How can we design our laneway so its affective environment is just as profound and invigorating as that of our rainforest? This is the challenge presented to the sonic practitioner by the sonic rupture concept. The concept of the affective sonic ecology foregrounds the dynamic relationship between a practitioner and soundscape, from which sound installations emerge that provide sonic ecologies with expanded affective capacities. It cannot be stated strongly enough that any installation must be preceded by a meaningful relationship between the practitioner and the environment. Each relationship is unique, marked by dreamings in which new expressions emerge within the practitioner that provides the impetus to

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diversify a space’s affective potential. The environment affects the practitioner and the practitioner in turn affects the environment in which those who encounter the new environments realize new sensations and experiences. These augmented environments suffuse bodies traversing their newly emergent affective fields. This may counter the increasingly banal, homogenized affects produced by contemporary urban soundscapes dominated by the sonic expression of functionalist imperatives, heard as the unerring noise of traffic, air conditioners, sirens and construction work. It is worth noting that the use of the functionalist imperative concept to describe the control of urban experiences is consistent with connections between noise and power made by other sonic theorists. Hildegard Westerkamp writes, ‘As long as we accept noise or the voices/sounds of authority as the dominant sounds that set the “tone” of an environment other tones and voices (such as our own) have no place there and are indeed often silenced’ (Westerkamp 1988: 1). And Jacques Attali, in his book Noise: The Political Economy of Music (which positions music as a cultural form that foreshadows political and social structures) writes, ‘Everywhere we look, the monopolization of the broadcast of messages, the control of noise, and the institutionalization of the silence of others assures the durability of power’ (Attali 1985: 8). The present argument agrees that there is a direct relationship between noise and power, and that these power relations might be shifted by soundscape design. Though in accordance with the stated application of the sonic affect theory (see introduction) the impact of power is determined via its impact on the affected body, rather than identifying the progenitor of noise as the culprit. Noise becomes pluralized. It is understood that the homogenizing urban presence of noise reduces sensations and experiences to banal repetition; however, it is also recognized that noisy soundscapes can be ruptured to create spaces of encounter. The main objective of networks of sonic ruptures is to increase the possibility of creative encounter by diversifying those homogenized affective sonic ecologies that comprise the sonic city. By diversifying the affective capacity of our urban sonic ecologies the possibilities for creative encounters and imaginative evocations are increased. This is considered to be an act of affective politics, a point that will be taken up fully in the final section of this chapter.


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Urban sound study precedents Having settled on a definition of soundscape, the conversation now turns to a discussion of urban soundscape design. The sonic rupture follows a specific line of studies concerned with the interconnections between society and the urban sound environment, and the possibility of design (or sonic intervention) to shape these interconnections. These study trajectories include the WSP,18 the Centre for Research on Sonic Space & Urban Environment (CRESSON) and Steve Goodman’s discussions of sound affect. The WSP (1972–7) was primarily concerned with educating the public about the importance of listening, and in particular, resolving the issue of noise pollution and its deleterious impact on our shared aural culture.19 This concern is highlighted by the identification of lo-fi and hi-fi soundscapes. Barry Truax, who both recontextualized and consolidated the research of the WSP in his book Acoustic Communication (2001) and the website the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology (1999) explains: Situations where signal detection is difficult or impossible may be termed ‘lo-fi’ environments, by analogy to electroacoustic signals of poor quality, high noise, and distortion. The complementary situation, the ‘hi-fi’ environment, is one in which all sounds may be heard clearly, with whatever detail and spatial orientation they may have. Such an environment is, by definition, balanced and well ‘designed’. (Truax 2001: 23)

Truax’s, and before him the WSP’s, concern with lo-fi soundscapes retains an influence discernible in subsequent studies by Michael Bull,20 Bruce Smith21 and the PSP,22 all of which refer to the impact of noise on human listening and communities. In this sense the concept has had a prodigious influence on academic research into historical and sociological studies on relationships between societies and their concomitant sound environments. However, the lo-fi–hi-fi distinction has been less successful in producing groundlevel soundscape design solutions, a point that will be discussed in detail in Chapter  2 (see ‘Apotheosizing Nature’). Despite these limitations, the sonic rupture concept remains deeply influenced by the poetic and imaginative explorations of acoustic ecology, which will become clear in the next chapter.

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The CRESSON research team, led by Jean-François Augoyard, provided urban soundscape designers with an indispensable manual, called Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds (1995). The book includes a lexicon of sound effects, which emerge at the intersection of the built environment, human perception and socio-cultural context, to provide the sonic practitioner with a detailed interdisciplinary toolkit. CRESSON questions the use of the term ‘soundscape’ for urban sound design disciplines. They claim soundscape is only useful for ‘aesthetic analysis, creation and conservation’ and not for ‘the scale of everyday behavior and at the scale of architectural and urban spaces’ (Augoyard and Torgue 2005: 7). Steve Goodman’s book Sonic Warfare (2010) is critical of both approaches. He claims that acoustic ecology apotheosizes silence in a way that denigrates the urban, and CRESSON’s sound effects are criticized for their dependency on a humancentred phenomenological approach to sound. Goodman instead proposes an affective model that he calls the ecology of vibrational affects. Goodman’s discussion is a radical departure from previous discussions of urban sounds. Rather than human perception being central to understanding sound, our bodies are immersed in a vibrational nexus that affects our corporeal and incorporeal expressions (see introduction for further discussion). The sonic rupture aligns with Goodman’s discussion of sonic affect insofar as urban sound is considered a continuum23 that affects our experiences. This is not to dismiss the WSP and CRESSON research, which remain invaluable tools for sound studies, but rather, to foreground the influence of the ‘sonic affect’ concept on contemporary scholarship and sonic practices, particularly those focused on everyday urban sounds.

Noise materiality The sonic rupture invites the practitioner to relate with urban noise as a plurality. Noise is not only a problem or nuisance to be removed; it is also a material that affords creative play and the potential manifestation of new worlds  – both environmental and imaginative.24 Urban noise is a ubiquitous material that affects repetitive everyday behaviours, in particular the


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withdrawn25 urbanite who disconnects from his or her surroundings. When the social body withdraws from urban life, public spaces become thoroughfares to be traversed to attend to the activities of work and consumption alone. When a practitioner ruptures space, the emergent encounter provides the urban dweller with an opportunity to eschew the functional in favour of the creative. This is achieved by compelling the urban dweller to engage with the immediate. This expands our common understanding of noise as unwanted sound, or an annoyance that requires removal; instead, the sonic rupture repositions noise as an urban reservoir of limitless potential, the materiality of which can be reshaped, and the affects of which can be transformed by intervention to afford new creative expressions and experiences. The sonic rupture model (Chapter 4) treats urban noise as a material that the sonic practitioner can work with in multiple ways. It may be just as effective to reshape it, as it is to remove it from the urban environment. Repositioning noisy soundscapes as affective urban environments that can be reshaped by intervention is commensurate with Steve Goodman’s ‘ecology of fear’.26 He uses the term to describe the feelings of anxiety that spread across our bodies in response to the ubiquity of low-frequency sounds. This is not an anti-noise statement. He writes, ‘It would be foolish to ignore the complex affects of the ecology of fear for the sake of a too hasty politics of silence. At very least, the transduction of bad vibes into something more constructive, suggests the need to probe more deeply into affective tonality and the vibrations of the environment’ (Goodman 2010: 73). Goodman goes on to describe ‘bass cultures’ that successfully ‘channel these negative energies’ (Ibid: 115–16). Bass cultures develop around loud, bass-heavy music systems that emerge within urban peripheries: the slums, ghettos and favelas of global megalopolises. Bass cultures channel the ecology of fear into joy through the affective contagion of dance, and the rhythmic movement of bodies (Ibid). There is a sense of hope and social autonomy in Goodman’s description. By considering the sonic environment as affective, urban noise becomes a material that can be reshaped into new expressions and experiences rather than an all-consuming presence that dominates the social body. The sonic rupture seeks something similar. By creating sound installations that reshape noise into alternatively affective environments, sites of creative encounter are born.

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Process-of-musicality A sound installation that successfully ruptures emerges from relations between creative practitioner and affective sonic ecology. These relations are formed through a ‘process-of-musicality’ which can be defined as listening to and feeling the soundscape, and subsequently organizing sound by creating installations that interact with those sounds. The term ‘musicality’ refers to relationships; it does not indicate that a sound installation is a fixed piece of music, or that the soundscape is a composition that requires tuning by a musical ear. Rather, each sonic rupture, the sonic conditions of which are unique to each sound installation, is a series of continuously unfolding events that affect the environment and the experiences of those who encounter the new environment. When emerging from the ‘in-between’ of practitioner and space, sound installations afford ongoing relationships between the city and its inhabitants, for a work forged in dynamic interconnection will maintain this quality throughout its life. The process-of-musicality, in this sense, is not understood as a predetermined musical structure, or a set of musical principles, to which the practitioner adheres; it is the unique and irreducible relationship between sonic practitioner and affective sonic ecology from which a sound installation emerges. The sonic practitioner, who is immersed in the noisy soundscape of the urban environment, listens deeply and is affected by the sounds of the city. The environment reaches in, reshaping the practitioner emotionally and physically. The complexities and details of the sonic ecology slowly emerge, revealing those secrets typically hidden by the noises it expresses. This is not to suggest that practitioners are passive receptors. They also bring to bear on the environment their own intentions for intervention, which contributes to their relationship with and understanding of the sonic environment (a point that will be taken up again in Chapter 4). But the practitioner’s intentions, by necessity, will morph. Determinisms evaporate in the foundries of the affective, immanence breathes new life into the moment. It is this relationship, and its affectations, in which the subsequent environmental rupture emerges. In the unfolding dance between the consequent sound installation and the sonic environment – the point of encounter – ongoing


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experiential ruptures are born. So, in the first instance, through a processof-musicality, a rupture occurs within the practitioner who imagines the sonic environment as something new. Secondly, an installation emerges in the space for an indefinite period of time, which ruptures the immediate sonic ecology for the lifetime of the installation. And finally, this becomes a point of creative encounter in which experiential ruptures, in those who encounter the reshaped sonic ecology, are ongoing. This discussion will be revisited in the conclusion of Chapter 2, and the practical outcomes of applying a process-of-musicality to the discussed creative practice research will be explained in detail in Chapter 3.

Affective politics Networks of sonic rupture maximize the opportunity for creative encounter in urban soundscapes that have been homogenized by noise. This approach to urban soundscape design locates itself within a broader ‘affective politics’ that associates healthy society with an expanded capacity for interconnection and creative expression. The ubiquitous sources of noise in the contemporary city are climate controllers and city traffic, each of which serves to fulfil the functions of our everyday working lives.27 And it is these same noise sources, due to their dominance, that reduce the affective capacity of sonic ecologies to banal repetition, thereby negatively impacting our social health and wellbeing. The purpose of the sonic rupture is to challenge these homogenous conditions by creating diverse environments, expressive social bodies and thereby enabling the intensification of our imaginative capacities.28 It is this that makes the act of sonic rupture a form of affective politics. Elizabeth Grosz, in her book Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (2008), makes the connection between art and politics: ‘Art29 is where life most readily transforms itself, the zone of indetermination through which all becomings must pass. In this sense art is not the antithesis of politics, but politics continued by other means’ (p. 76). The sonic rupture creates such a ‘zone of indetermination’ whose emergent affects diversify environments and bodily sensations by challenging the controlling repetitions of daily life. Brian

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Massumi makes a similar link between affect and politics, and in the process hints at a mandate for activism. He states, The crucial political question for me is whether there are ways of practicing a politics that takes stock of the affective way power operates now. … I’m not exactly sure what that kind of politics would look like, but it would still be performative. In some basic way it would be an aesthetic politics, because its aim would be to expand the range of affective potential [emphasis added].30

A network of sonic ruptures can be considered a political act similar to the ideas suggested by Massumi, as it aims to increase the affective potential of everyday sonic ecologies via creative works (qua sound installations). A point of difference is that a network of sonic ruptures is not an aesthetic politics, which risks reducing intervention to a type of beautification, but rather a politics concerned with ethics (in the Deleuze-Spinoza sense outlined in the introduction) that is concerned with augmenting the human body to experience an increase in that joy (the creative press) which is immanent to every moment. There is no attempt here to promote affect as some type of benign force. Equally, affect can be manipulated by agencies that wish to control behaviours. Nigel Thrift (2008), in his book Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, speaks of a process of imitation called ‘affective contagion [which] shows how affect can be engineered to produce a politics which is able to act as a dark force’ (p. 240). As discussed in the introduction, ‘experience design’ is a prime example, whereby (particularly indoor) soundscapes are homogenized by sounds (and other sensory phenomena) to elicit specific consumer behaviours. The homogenizing of space, by processes of affective contagion, ‘powered by automatisms (in which) the body is the medium for the transmission of force … without any conscious volition’, (Thrift 2008: 241) are the very conditions that the sonic rupture wishes to disrupt. Expanding affective potential becomes an act of politics for it challenges those forces that homogenize environments by creating spaces of encounter for experiential diversity. However, it should be recalled that the focus of this book is on outdoor, public urban soundscapes where sounds are largely the incidental by-products of functional behaviours, for example, commuting,


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climate control, state-dependency (sirens). This is not to downplay the role of affective politics in outdoor spaces but only to consider that the interface is less politically charged, given that there are no controlling forces that are being directly challenged, as they would be in those indoor soundscapes that have been specifically designed to produce repetitive human behaviours (such as the affective contagion caused by experience design). Nevertheless, challenging those functionalist imperatives that shape everyday city life remains the focus of sonic rupture practices. Within the locus of each sonic rupture, functional imperatives are dispersed, which equates with a localized expansion of affective potential. When encountered, the mundane, typically repetitive expressions of everyday city life morph into a diversification of human expressions (as does the immediate environment). This is not a political act in the sense of organized action seeking to dethrone the status quo (replacing political systems); rather, this is an affective politics that aims to diversify environments so as to increase the capacity for creative expression in everyday life. As suggested in the introduction, the present argument suggests no malign force that predetermines the reductive affects of functionalism in outdoor, public soundscapes. They simply arise through the rules and regulations, health and safety requirements and general policing of the urban, all of which have been instituted to ensure the seamless functioning of the everyday.31 In fact, the functionalist imperative is only one possible expression of a city’s affective potential, albeit a largely desirable, and persistent, one due to its qualities of efficiency, predictability and safety. But when functionalist imperatives come to dominate a city, the emergence of the new, or our capacity for creative expression, is repressed. This negatively impacts our social health and well-being, which is dependent on our capacity to form meaningful relationships with other people and with the environments in which we are immersed. Ironically, it is these very homogenous conditions that give rise to the sonic rupture, for without the homogenous fields of the contemporary urban soundscape there would be nothing to rupture.32 The urban soundscape, despite its noisy conditions, expresses this affirmative quality: the capacity for rupture and its diversifying affects. The following chapter will look more deeply at affect as expression, and its relationship to the sonic rupture.

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Notes 1 The reader is encouraged to refer to the discussion of functionalist imperatives in the introduction. There is little room for creative expression within spaces dominated by social and political functions (e.g. getting to work, fulfilling tasks, dressing and speaking appropriately, health and safety regulations, policing). This view is commensurate with Michel de Certeau’s concept of ‘functionalist totalitarianism’. He writes, ‘It is a symptomatic tendency of functionalist totalitarianism … that it seeks precisely to eliminate local authorities, because they compromise the univocity of the system’ (De Certeau 1984: 106). A local authority, he writes, ‘is a discourse that makes room for a void … it is a crack in the system that saturates places with signification and indeed so reduces them to this signification that it is impossible to breathe in them’ (Ibid: 106). We might think of a local authority as a space of meaning and import that exists outside of functionalist imperatives. There are similarities between a local authority and a rupture: a rupture seeks to challenge functionalism by embedding new and irresistible experiences in the everyday. 2 The term ‘space’ is understood as the immediate sonic conditions in which the practitioner is immersed. It is not the intention of this term to define ‘space’ as a pre-existing, geometrical container that is somehow filled with materials and experiences. The term is useful from a spatial perspective, particularly in the planning and design of installation works; thus, the term has been maintained. This will be discussed further under the subheading ‘Affective Sonic Ecologies’. 3 The introduction of the WHO’s Guidelines for Community Noise states ‘in contrast to many other environmental problems, noise pollution continues to grow and it is accompanied by an increasing number of complaints from people exposed to the noise. The growth in noise pollution is unsustainable because it involves direct, as well as cumulative, adverse health effects. It also adversely affects future generations, and has socio-cultural, esthetic and economic effects’ (WHO 1999: vii). The report goes on to mention the term ‘soundscape’, albeit briefly, as connected to potential design solutions: ‘More emphasis needs to be given to the design or retrofit of urban centres, with noise management as a priority (e.g. “soundscapes”)’ (WHO 1999: 55). 4 The EU Environmental Noise Directive seeks to ‘define a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce on a prioritized basis the harmful effects, including annoyance, due to the exposure to environmental noise’.


Sonic Rupture See (accessed 9 April 2015). The European Environment Agency acts to ‘raise awareness about the health impacts of noise and reward European initiatives that can help reduce excessive noise’ through the provision of a soundscape award. See http://www. (accessed 9 April 2015).

5 The ISO have created the following standard definition for the term soundscape: ‘acoustic environment as perceived or experienced and/or understood by a person or people, in context’. See ui/#iso:std:iso:12913:-1:ed-1:v1:en (accessed 11 June 2016). 6 For example, see (accessed 9 April 2015). 7 The City of Melbourne 2006 Draft Urban Design strategy states, ‘A more enticing public environment will engage the “hidden” senses and bring attention to textures, odours and the “soundscape” of a city to create a vivid experience of public spaces and enhance their sense of place’ (City of Melbourne 2006: 11). 8 Tim Ingold makes a similar comparison between landscape and soundscape as equally problematic terms. He states, ‘The environment that we experience, know and move around in is not sliced up along the lines of sensory pathways by which we enter into it. The world we perceive is the same world, whatever path we take, and each of us perceives it as an undivided center of activity and awareness. For this reason I deplore the fashion for multiplying – scapes of every possible kind’ (Ingold 2011: 136). 9 As mentioned in the introduction, the WSP was initiated by Murray Schafer in the early 1970s. This research project was the first comprehensive and sustained effort to spread awareness of the importance of soundscapes in our everyday lives. Keiko Torigoe provides a detailed account of the WSP’s ‘significance in modern society and [an] evaluation of its accomplishments’ (Torigoe 1982: iv). 10 In the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, Truax states, ‘Ecology is the study of the relationship between individuals and communities and their environment. Soundscape ecology is thus the study of the effects of the acoustic environment, or soundscape, on the physical responses or behavioural characteristics of those living within it. Its particular aim is to draw attention to imbalances which may have unhealthy or inimical effects. Also termed acoustic ecology.’ See http://www. (accessed 3 June 2015). Recently, well-known soundscape field-recordist Bernie Krause (wildsanctuary. com) has reapplied the term ‘soundscape ecology’ to the establishment of a new

Shaping Sonic Cities


scientific discipline. See Pijanowski et al. (2010) for further discussion. It should be noted that Jonas Redstrom (2007) challenges acoustic ecology’s use of the term ‘ecology’. He suggests that acoustic ecology is phenomenological (humancentred) rather than ecological (the concern of all species). 11 In fact, this immediately presents an unfair characterization of acoustic ecology. The original research of the WSP expressed as much delight for village soundscapes as it did for natural soundscapes. See FVS/fvs.html (accessed 9 July 2015) for more information. 12 For example, Brandon LaBelle’s states that acoustic ecology attempts to give ‘voice (to) collective unconscious knowledge, and chart(s) the dynamism of acoustic spaces inhabited by both real and mythological beings’ (LaBelle 2006: 213). 13 This argument can be extended to earbud culture. Michael Bull identifies escaping the noise of the everyday, and its mundane conditions, as at least one reason why earbud culture is so prolific in contemporary cities (Bull 2000: 59). 14 For an overview of these terms, see Chapter 1 of Lacey (2014a). 15 The evocation of the mythic is discernible in the concluding sentences of Schafer’s The Soundscape: the Tuning of the World (1977). He writes, ‘if we could extend our consciousness outward to the universe and eternity, we could hear silence. … Then perfection is achieved. The secret hieroglyph of the Universe is revealed’ (p. 262). A similar intent can be detected in Barry Truax’s 8-channel composition The Shaman Ascending (2004–5), which ‘evokes the imagery of a traditional shaman figure chanting in the quest for spiritual ecstasy’ (see: (accessed 10 November 2015). Additionally, Hildegard Westerkamp’s ten-year project Into India (2002) explores cultural and environmental complexities of the Indian subcontinent. She uses field recordings to explore ‘the extraordinary intensity of daily living on the one hand and the inner radiance, focus, and stillness on the other hand that emanate from deep within the culture and its people’ (my italics; see: (accessed 10 November 2015). 16 The reader may wish to return to the introduction for a description of the relations between pre-personal and personal affect. Pre-personal affect is metaphysical, which is understood here as an ever-present creative press on the real. Once in the real we can understand affect as personal, which is associated with feelings and emotions. Although non-living objects have no emotions as such, we can still talk about them affecting and being affected by humans. From


Sonic Rupture a psychological standpoint this is understood ‘Phenomenologically [as a] core affect [that] is a feeling inside oneself, whereas an affective quality is a property of the thing perceived. It is the garden that is lovely, the stench that is offensive, and the tune that is joyous’ (Russell 2003: 157). Similarly, in this argument, personal affect interweaves practitioner and sonic ecology, though in addition, both are the consequence of pre-personal affects that forever press into the real.

17 Having said this, theorists such as McLuhan and Carpenter (1960) and Gernot Böhme (2000), who use the terms ‘acoustic space’ and ‘acoustic atmosphere’ respectively, are exploring non-quantitative qualities. However, the use of the term ‘acoustic’ generally references the science of sound. It is interesting to note that more recently Jean-Paul Thibaud (2014), a researcher at CRESSON, used the term ‘sonic’ rather than ‘acoustic’ in the title for his presentation on urban ambiences at the 2014 ‘Invisible Places, Sounding Cities’ conference in Portugal. 18 For a comprehensive study of the research outputs of the WSP, see Torigoe’s (1982) thesis ‘A Study of the World Soundscape Project’. 19 As discussed in the foreword, urban soundscape design is only one of the WSP’s legacies; we might also speak of soundscape compositions, field recordings, sound theory and education. 20 Michael Bull’s (2000) research suggests that city dwellers use personal stereo systems and iPods to escape everyday soundscapes. 21 Bruce Smith is sympathetic to Truax’s concerns about the impacts of lo-fi soundscapes, when comparing Elizabethan era and contemporary sound environments (Smith 1999: 51). 22 The PSP, an interdisciplinary study measuring the relationships between soundscapes and human perception wrote that ‘the strong focus of traditional engineering acoustics on reducing noise levels ignores the many possibilities for characterizing positive aspects of the soundscape’ (Cain et al. 2008: 3262), which resonates with the initial mandate of the WSP. In another paper by the PSP they provide evidence that suggests ‘a strong role for the sound artist in helping to compose the elements of the soundscape: the artistic task would be to design (compose) a suitable level of vibrancy by attempting to manipulate the mixture of sound sources and how they change over time’ (Davies et al. 2010). 23 By ‘continuum’ Goodman is referring to a frequency range including infrasound and ultrasound, which are inaudible spectrums to the human ear. He also uses the term ‘(dis)continuum’, which is a ‘vibrational force, a vast, disjointed, shivering surface’ (Goodman 2010: xv) that extends across cities both sonically

Shaping Sonic Cities


and culturally. It is interesting to speculate that the sonic continuum may well be a suitable substitution for the term ‘soundscape’, as it is partly suggestive of a geographical spread of sounds. 24 As such, the Sonic Rupture joins other theoretical studies on the topic of noise, which are recalibrating our attitudes from negative remonstration of noise towards a more complex and sophisticated engagement with this urban phenomenon. For examples, see Thompson (2004), Cox (2009), Goodman (2010) and Hainge (2013). For an historical example, see Russolo (1967 [1917]). 25 Although the practice of sonic rupture departs from the dualistic positioning of lo-fi and hi-fi soundscapes as proposed by the WSP, it recognizes that the dominant presence of noise is perceived as a primary cause for withdrawal from urban life. This is not an issue with noise in and of itself, which can be both exhilarating and intriguing, but rather with the ubiquitous and dominating presence of noise. Truax (2001) writes, ‘the soundscape that was information rich becomes information poor, and the mediated relationship that was interactive and integrative becomes habitually withdrawn, alienated, and even pathological. In the most extreme case, meaninglessness itself becomes the person’s long-term auditory image of the environment, and since relationships are mediated both ways by sound, a lack of meaning in the environment is reflected back to the individual’s own self-image, which must suffer’ (p. 97). In the present argument, this ‘lack of meaning’ is considered a consequence of dominating functionalist imperatives, which are sonically expressed as noise. By reshaping noise, the sonic rupture challenges functionalist imperatives and its impacts. 26 This is discussed in his book Sonic Warfare (2010). As Goodman explains, the term is taken from Mike Davis’ (1998) Ecology of Fear. 27 It is rare to escape the reach of these sounds, at least in non-programmed outdoor public spaces. 28 It is at this point that the ecosophical perspective of political activist (philosopher and psychotherapist) Felix Guattari becomes apparent. It was he who proposed rupture as a type of diversification of everyday ecologies. Guattari states, ‘at the heart of all ecological praxes there is an a-signifying rupture, in which the catalysts of existential change are close at hand’ (Guattari 2008: 30). For further discussion, see this book’s introduction. 29 It is important to note that Grosz applies the term ‘art’ broadly. ‘By arts, I am concerned here with all forms of creativity or production that generate intensity, sensation, or affect: music, painting, sculpture, literature, architecture, design,


Sonic Rupture landscape, dance, performance, and so on’ (Grosz 2008: 3). Clearly, we can consider a sound installation to be consistent with Grosz’s definition of art.

30 See (accessed 11 June 2015). 31 Examples of the functionalization of cities are increasingly abundant. Recently in Melbourne, the city council decided to polish the topside of all laneway bluestones (cobblestones) in case they proved to be a tripping hazard for pedestrians. Giant televisions blare out advertisements and short news items between train arrivals in underground railway stations. And the general aggravation of fast-moving crowds when someone walks slowly, or carefully absorbs their surroundings, is increasingly evident. The rupture hopes to challenge these conditions, by creating moments that compel us to experience the world in new ways. See (accessed 3 June 2015). 32 The perceptive reader might discern a relationship here with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of ‘striated and smooth space’. They write, ‘We must remind ourselves that the two spaces (striated and smooth) in fact exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2004: 524). Similarly, the sonic rupture acts to momentarily return striated space (the efficient functionality of the city) to a smooth space (the unpredictable emergence of localized events). This concept, and its relationship to sound, will be further discussed in Chapters 2 and 3.


Creating New Natures

In this chapter, a new understanding of the term ‘nature’ is presented. The chapter begins with a discussion of affect as a means to understand the creative (evolutionary) processes of the ‘affective earth’. The Earth is imagined as continuous unfoldings of creative potential, and the urban as a crust-like layering that shapes this potential into repetitive forms. Repetition emerges as the replicating expressions (the built environment, and its sights and sounds) of global cities (including, by extension, the automation of the rural) and the consequent quotidian lives of the inhabitants of the ‘urban crust’. It is expanding the affective potential of the urban crust that will contribute to the evolution of new natures, and therefore, the imaginative and sensual lives of those who live in the urban. Before introducing the argument for new natures, a brief comparative analysis of two environmentalisms, Acoustic Ecology and Biophilia, is presented. It is argued that their historical preoccupation with securing scientific validation obscures an important message conveyed by both: that imaginative and poetic interconnections with our environments are vital to our well-being. With or without scientific validation, these important insights deserve consideration by both creative practitioners and urban planners. This is followed by a brief analysis of recent ecological arguments that criticize nature-based movements for creating a disconnection between society and our world (particularly, the urban), as a consequence of environmentalisms searching beyond the immediate for the nourishment of the self. It will be argued that this characteristic tendency of environmentalism is an ongoing consequence of long-term human displacement: the urban crust does not yet fulfil our need for connection and belonging. The chapter concludes with an argument for an urban design approach that focuses on the production of new natures, which is rooted in the creative process.


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The affective earth Our discussion now turns to the relationship between affect, human expression and the lands that human societies have long inhabited. An urban-based network of sonic ruptures aims to create affective sonic ecologies, which have a similar affective potential to that of nature. As explained below, the term ‘nature’ is synonymous with a new term introduced in this book – the affective earth. To apprehend this concept we must first attempt to explain the word ‘affect’,1 which begins here with a discussion of ‘potential’. Potential is difficult to comprehend, as it cannot be perceived; rather, it is that which becomes perceivable. Potential passes into the real by affecting the real, and can only be perceived as the objects, expressions and experiences that unfold from its coalescence: the mountains, the sounds, the dreamings of the Earth are all realities that once existed as unformed potential. Potential is dynamic; it never stops affecting the real. Consequently, the real is never static. It continuously unfolds as a multiplicity of durational events: mountains become and erode, sounds are born and die, dreamings change. From the immense to the infinitesimal, all durational events are potential arising into the real and the real returning to potential. Before the Earth was formed, that is, before that event 4.6 billion years ago, when the first dust particles clumped together and began rotating, there existed only the potential for Earth. The Earth, like all events, unfolds from affective potential and continuously returns to the potential from which it emerged. The Earth itself is affective; it can be imagined as a dynamic globe humming with potential, out of which all biotic and abiotic entities emerge in a process of creative evolution. Each emergent entity affects (and is affected by) the ecologies in which they are enmeshed, including all of humanity’s present moments (synthetic, technological and urban). It is not only the material that is affected by potential; every thought, dream and gesture of every living being is participatory in the dynamic unfolding of the affective earth.2 The affective earth concept is partly influenced by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of striated and smooth space, whereby striated space is understood as the scratches and grooves of rural (agricultural) lands, and the grid patterns and linear arrangements of the urban. It may also refer to

Creating New Natures


functional patterns of behaviour and thinking that can define city life. Smooth space refers to the unpredictable emergences of nature – the random patterns of tree growth, the shifting sands of deserts, the unpredictable emergence of new life forms and the divergent dreamings of the Earth as expressed by indigenous and nomadic groups. The relationship between the striated and smooth and this book’s understanding of nature is best captured by the quote ‘we must remind ourselves that the two spaces in fact exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2004: 524). Understood as such, urban, rural and natural lands are all varying expressions of an affective earth. Their lines of demarcation are defined by the extent to which the Earth’s affective potential has been shaped by human intervention. The urban, and by extension the rural,3 is understood as nature transversed by linearity – we can think of these spaces as the built environments and functional processes of our contemporary cities. It is the contention of this book that urban space can be returned to smooth space by rupturing the linearities of striated space such that new and unpredictable environmental and experiential events can emerge.4 The increasingly dominant striations (and attendant functionalisms) of the urban are ruptured for the emergence of diverse affects, both environmental and experiential.

The urban crust The urban crust concept (derived from geological thinking)5 describes those global cities that are spreading across the affective earth. Driven by functionalist imperatives, the global cities that form this crust slowly homogenize their surfaces.6 As suggested in the previous chapter, functionalism is but one possible expression of affect—a relatively fixed expression, insofar as it tends towards homogenization. This does not mean that the functionalism of the urban crust reduces the power of affective potential; rather, by shaping potential as it passes into the real, its range of possible expressions are limited. Or, put another way, the power of affective potential is concentrated to accelerate a limited range of possibilities. This has its advantages. We might say of modern


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civilization that its rapid technological advances and radical environmental transformations are a direct consequence of its harnessing of affective potential, by directing its flows (controlling mobilities) and minimizing its possible expressions (everyday repetition). But when functionalist imperatives become overly dominant, our lives are reduced to functionalist reiterations, rather than diverse expressions of dynamic and unfolding interrelationships with surrounding environments and expressive social bodies. Under such conditions, the human body is deterred from expressing unmediated forms of creativity (such as those generated during spontaneous moments). Our sense of well-being is at least partly related to our capacity for creative expression (such as numinous feelings, intangible thoughts, exploratory gestures, etc.); as such, it is the intention of the sonic rupture to create surges of affective potential that burst through the urban crust and momentarily diversify the everyday. To understand what is meant by diversity, we need look no further than the extraordinary range of social groups that have emerged from those land-based relationships, which are unmediated by functionalist imperatives. Indigenous and nomadic societies7 flourish(ed) as multiplicities of unique expressions. Each indigenous grouping is a consequence of affective potential passing into the real as unique assemblages of dreamings, rituals, art forms and familial relations. Land-based social groupings uniquely manifest the Earth’s affective potential, whereas urban functionalism shapes social expressions. The connection between the environmental and the social becomes clear in the context of the affective earth. The Earth’s environments (e.g. rainforests, tundras, deserts) are as diverse as the social groups that have emerged within them (e.g., Kaluli, Inuit, Warlpiri), with each environmental–social interrelationship creating a unique and inextricable link between land and cultural expression.8 In contrast, the urban crust, which homogenizes environments, tends towards the creation of homogenous social groupings. Instead of the extraordinary social diversity that existed across the Earth for most of human history, we increasingly encounter the repetition of the same across our global cities. This is not to suggest that the urban cannot afford diverse social emergences,9 only that its tendency towards homogeneity is not conducive to diversity. Networks of sonic ruptures unlock the affective earth

Creating New Natures


for the diversification of the everyday. The aim is to create the possibility for profound experiences, which were everyday realities for indigenous cultures immersed in lands unmediated by the reductive tendencies of the urban crust.10 In summary, the creative potential of the Earth is unlimited and its capacity to affect the real can be shaped.

Apotheosizing nature The description of nature provided above presents a creative Earth whose range of expressions includes the urban. Oftentimes, nature and the urban are considered in opposition; before proposing an argument for new natures, this oppositional tendency, which risks denigrating the urban, must be addressed. Both the acoustic ecology and biophilia11 movements emerged at a time when it was considered prudent for political and social activists to align themselves with science to confer legitimacy upon their claims. As it is commonly understood, the term ‘acoustic ecology’ describes those listening relationships that connect societies and environments. However, another meaning may exist. Ostensibly, the term ‘acoustic’ points to a scientific sensibility derived from the branch of physics studying the physical behaviour of sound.12 Using the term ‘ecology’ was apparently a way to align the WSPs concerns (perhaps unintentionally) with an emerging ecological consciousness that had been gathering steam at the time. Considered as such, by combining the terms’ meanings, we might say that there was an attempt to invoke science to validate what was primarily an aesthetic concern – to recreate in the urban those hi-fi listening conditions identifiable in the ‘natural’ (as suggested, for instance, by Schafer’s soniferous garden).13 We might speculate that in creating such a difficult goal (creating hi-fi environments in the urban), acoustic ecologists had little choice but to turn to the creation of soundscape compositions, since concert-hall listening conditions are more easily controlled. Acoustic ecologists were, and remain, highly skilled and influential soundscape composers,14 and existing literature and sonic works pertaining to soundscape composition demonstrate a deep appreciation for and interconnection with the environment, which lies at the heart of the art form.15 However, it is this desire


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to produce ideal (hi-fi)16 listening environments – soundscape composition playback in concert-hall conditions – while describing the urban as exhibiting unbalanced – and thus harmful – listening environments, which is responsible for the lack of real-world advances in urban soundscape design. To be blunt, everyday urban life has been neglected. The search for superior soundscapes (qua hi-fi listening conditions) is clearly a question of aesthetics rather than an impartial, or scientific, investigation of existing conditions. Science should not begin with judgement, but rather with hypothesis and analysis; ecology, as will be discussed in the following section, is what is, and not the study of nor the pursuit of an ideal. It is the contention of this book that acoustic ecology would be better off engaging with the immediate urban environment (the urban crust) rather than solely concentrating on composing with environmental sound, which, although useful as a form of media and entertainment or pedagogical tool, has little to no impact on the everyday conditions of urban life. Expecting scientific validation for its primary aim – to establish an acoustic design discipline that ‘repaired’ the urban17 – was not only unlikely, it also became responsible for a concert-based aesthetic wherein some ‘perfect’ soundscape could be more easily pursued. To be clear, this argument is not intended to undervalue science in any way, or downplay the importance of interdisciplinary research and exploration. Indeed, it could be claimed that the initial activist aims of the acoustic ecology project have been achieved elsewhere, notably via the recent establishment of the science-based soundscape ecology discipline (Pijanowski et al. 2010) and among researchers investigating the link between noise pollution and adverse health issues (Goines and Hagler 2007).18 However, efforts to expand the imaginative and poetic presences of everyday life – the mythic search for the ur-sound – do not require scientific justification. The creative act is enough, in and of itself. And, from the position of activism, realizing this in the extant conditions of everyday urban life is more important than treating audiences to perfect listening conditions in the concert hall (however enjoyable this may be). It is interesting to extend considerations of the need for scientific validation to other forms of environmental activism. For instance, there is the concept of

Creating New Natures


biophilia – a term coined by the etymologist Edward O. Wilson.19 According to his thesis, biophilia, defined as humanity’s necessary love for nature, life and lifelike processes, has a genetic foundation. Yet the gene itself has not been found. Regardless, biophilia theory has since expanded to encompass urban design approaches including the greening of cities through the mass-introduction of the stuff of nature (trees, wild animals, rivers, etc.) (Beatley 2010), and biophilic urban design informed by natural features (Kellert, Heerwagen and Mador 2008). While popular among certain activist thinkers, the concept of biophilia has received criticism for advancing unsubstantiated scientific claims.20 Such critiques resonate with those directed at acoustic ecology, in that both theories contain an underlying assumption that the urban experience is somehow inferior (or less ideal) to that of the natural, so as a consequence, the urban must in some way become more like the natural. While the present work does not entirely disagree with this viewpoint insofar as it recognizes the profundity of the affective earth, it does consider the urban to be a legitimate expression of nature, and not its antithesis. The challenge is to form meaningful relationships with the urban rather than turning our backs on it. By foregrounding scientific imperatives that are difficult to substantiate, the acoustic ecology and biophilia movements have left themselves vulnerable to the claim that they are ideology masquerading as (ecological) science. Each would have been better off mounting a campaign calling for the expansion of our imaginative capacities. In fact, the initial leaders of both movements hinted that this was their true ambition. Murray Schafer and Edward O.  Wilson suggest that they have had profound experiences within nature. Wilson equates ‘ultimate survival … [with the] … survival of the human spirit’ (Wilson 1984: 40). Additionally, he states, ‘I offer this [engagement with nature] as a formula of re-enchantment to invigorate poetry and myth’ (Wilson 1984: 139). And Schafer writes, ‘from the arts, particularly music, we will learn how man [sic] creates ideal soundscapes for that other life, the life of the imagination and psychic reflection’ (Schafer 1977: 4). The comparative aims of these two movements are, in reality, a shared concern for the deteriorating conditions of human experience and imaginative capacity. However, both movements missed their mark: what is actually important about nature is not contingent upon any scientific validation or proof of our need to relate to


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nature. Rather it is that nature (the affective earth) invigorates the imaginative in a way the urban crust does not … for the moment. The creative urban soundscape design approach described in this book seeks to create diversely affective environments in the urban that can contribute to the imaginative re-engagement of social body with land. This is achieved by the evolution of the urban crust into new natures. Before discussing these, an analysis of specific criticisms of the term ‘nature’ will be presented, to illuminate reasons for the imaginative/emotive disconnection between the social body and its immediate environment (the urban).

Critiquing the term ‘nature’ The ecological philosopher and literary theorist Timothy Morton makes short shrift of the term ‘nature’. He associates it with a romantic sensibility that emerged in concert with consumer culture. The complexity of this argument cannot be adequately relayed here. In short, his provocation is that environmentalists are as damaging for the Earth’s ecologies as the resourcehungry tendencies of consumers. Morton explains: Nature is over there; the subject is over here. Nature is separated from us by an unbridgeable ontological wall, like a bullet proof plate glass window  – plate glass being the Romantic-period invention that enabled shops to display their wares as if they were in a picture frame, aestheticized, and therefore separated ontologically from the viewer, belonging to another order of reality altogether. Now this mention of plate glass is not accidental, because plate glass is a physical by-product of a quintessentially Romantic production, the production of the consumerist. Not the consumer, but the consumerist, that is, someone who is aware that she or he is a consumer, someone for whom the object of consumption defines their identity. (Morton 2009: 10)

For Morton, nature is a romantic sentiment that, like the commodity, is a distant object of affection: ‘It is Romantic consumerism that makes of the forest a shop window–and allows the ambience of a shop window to be experienced as the temple of nature’ (Morton 2007: 115). The point is that Romantics,

Creating New Natures


like consumers, are disconnected from the immediate, and look elsewhere in search of satisfaction. It seems fair to say, broadly speaking, that both biophilia and acoustic ecology are outgrowths of Romanticism, insofar as they imbue nature with special qualities essential for our well-being. That nature, ‘out there’, is considered to hold special qualities that cannot be accessed in the ‘here and now’ of our urban home. This thinking causes paralysis in relation to our own interconnection with the urban, which prevents the actions required to enable the urban crust to evolve into new natures. The consequence of fixing our gaze elsewhere is to distance ourselves from our immediate world.21 Morton perceives grave consequences in this attitude, The current ecological emergency should have proven to us once and for all that the attitude of environmentalism – that there is a ‘world’ that is separate from me, that nature exists apart from human society – is not only wrong, but dangerously part of the problem, if only because it provides a very good alibi and impedes us from actually doing anything about our dilemma’. (Morton 2009: 16)

If we reject the world we inhabit by maintaining our focus on the unobtainable (the desire for a perfect world that is out there), then by default we denigrate the urban, our home, for its failure to meet our well-being needs. It is interesting to note that Morton’s arguments against the attitudes enabled by the term ‘nature’ are in fact an extension of earlier views expressed by William Cronon in his seminal 1996 paper ‘The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature’.22 The connection between these two theoretical positions suggests a long-standing awareness of this preoccupation of environmentalism to create distance between society and world. Like Morton after him, Cronon asks us to be present in the here and now, and to become aware of the dynamic ecologies to which we belong. Cronon writes, ‘Idealising a distant wilderness too often means not idealising the environment in which we actually live, the landscape that for better or worse we call home’ (Cronon 1996: 21), which resonates with Morton’s comment that ‘in a society that fully acknowledged that we were always already involved in our world, there would be no need to point it [Nature] out’ (Morton 2007: 141). Both are calling for us to recognize our immediate ecologies, and not retract into


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fantasies of the perfect experiences that exist in an obtainable world. This is a viewpoint that resonates with the practice of creating sonic ruptures, which begins with the relationships practitioners form with their immediate environment.23 By embracing the challenges directed at environmentalism, specifically in the context of acoustic ecology, this book proposes that we might begin to direct our gaze (and focus our listening) upon the urban crust. Rather than looking outwards for personal inspiration, we might create it in the immediate moment.

Human displacement By arguing that idealizing an ‘out there’ risks neglecting the here and now, both Morton and Cronon provide us with a crucial step towards forming connections between social bodies and cities. However, their analysis pays little attention to the nourishment (emotional, imaginative and bodily) afforded by interrelationships between society and land, and consequently the deleterious impact of human displacement on these essential relationships. The tendency to focus our gaze away from the urban is a consequence of it not (yet) being able to fulfil the sense of belonging and interconnection that is forged in the intimate relationships between humans and their environments. We could say that most peoples of the world have had to confront the hardship of human displacement: international colonialists who traversed continents, ruralists who relocated to cities for factory work and the indigenous societies of Africa, the Americas and Australia who were forcefully relocated from their lands (if not exterminated). This displacement is ongoing: global populations continue to pour into cities and across national borders. It takes time for the land to cease being a stranger, and for it to feel like a place to which we are connected. To counter this displacement, we require ‘placemaking’ – the formation of connections between cities and the people who live within them. Humans have a need to connect with the land, an experience the urban crust is yet to afford. We search for it ‘out there’, simply because it cannot yet be found ‘here’ in our (new) urban home. Furthermore, Morton and Cronon’s characterization of wilderness and nature as being semantic (qua constructed terms) risks suggesting that

Creating New Natures


everything earthbound is somehow human-centred.24 A semantic treatment of nature risks ignoring that there was a time, an extremely long time in fact, when there were no humans to construct notions of wilderness or nature; the stuff that we refer to as nature certainly existed long before we named it. And even within the stretch of human existence, many human societies lived (and live) in a relationship with the land that did (does) not require its objectification, commodification or exploitation. Traces of ancient relations are now perhaps locked within the so-called ‘wilderness areas’ and ‘national parks’, yet their affective qualities have not been diminished by their naming. Such spaces produce affectations that are difficult to access in urban spaces; it is relationship that the romantic environmentalist feels. The urban lament – our distancing  – is an ache caused by the disconnect that accompanies displacement; it is this ache that can be momentarily eased by immersion in the ancient spaces of nature. The challenge for urban design is to (re)create cities that become places of belonging and connection, so that social bodies might again coalesce with the land rather than fragmenting into states of alienation and isolation.

The evolving urban crust We now return to the stated imaginative and poetic compulsions of acoustic ecology and biophilia as described above – not through science or the apotheosizing of distant natural places – but with the concept of the affective earth. By expanding the potential of the affective earth in our cities, we can begin the process of re-establishing those nourishing links between social bodies and the land. It is this that we speak of when expressing a desire to reconnect with ‘nature’. But the connection must begin with the immediate, even if its expressions (including noise) are aesthetically repugnant (as they clearly were to Schafer 1977: 246–7 and 1993: 63–7). The answer is not to escape into a fantasy land: the yearly holiday to the Great Barrier Reef or the perfect soundscape composition realized in a concert hall. Rather, we must find a way to rediscover – or recreate – the affective moments we desire right here in the urban spaces we inhabit. Nature is not just the rivers, birds and trees of the wild but all the things that surround us – even those things


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we would rather not consider, such as the rubbish, stench and noise of the city. Although the reductive tendencies of the urban crust may currently discourage relationships between humans and the land, it nevertheless remains an expression of the affective earth. For this reason all sonic ecologies are considered to be of equal importance (as discussed in Chapter 1 under the heading ‘Affective Sonic Ecologies’) and are differentiated only by the diversity of their affective capacities. Rather than distancing ourselves from that which does not nourish us, the challenge is to plant and nourish that which, in turn, will come to nourish us. The creative practitioner who forms a relationship with space goes some way towards contributing to this process. For there is no surer way of producing cities that invigorate us than by urban design approaches that achieve the expansion of affective potential. Rather than mourning what has been lost and retracting from (unpalatable) existing urban conditions into a fantasy, proper ecological perspectives ask us to engage with the immediate. In doing so, global cities may come to express the expansive creativity of the affective earth. Accordingly, the exertions of the creative practitioner become the intention to diversify the urban crust. This is a point of activism: to unlock the expansive potential of the affective earth in the urban crust, so that new natures might evolve. And for this, we turn to Henri Lefebvre.

Lefebvre’s ‘second nature’ As discussed, the term ‘nature’ is often used to identify places set aside for nature consumption: wilderness areas and national parks. There are various studies in psychological and cultural domains that claim exposure to nature is advantageous to our health and well-being.25 For the reasons provided in the preceding section, it is not always possible to gain such exposure, considering both issues with access to nature parks for many urban dwellers, and the unfeasibility of locating the stuff of nature within the functional spaces of the urban. However, the definition of nature in the present argument goes beyond its material manifestations: it is not only the biotic and abiotic stuff of Earth, but also the imaginative emergences of affected social bodies that

Creating New Natures


populate the Earth. The philosopher Henri Lefebvre realized the importance of this. Although better known for his critique of capitalism’s capacities to produce new space and dominate existing space; Lefebvre is also known as ‘the ecophilosopher of the 21st century’ (Aronowitz 2007: 133) who called for the establishment of a ‘second nature’. Lefebvre’s second nature is not concerned with the stuff of nature, but the affects of nature, that is, its infinite creativity: ‘The “beings” it [nature] creates are works; and each has “something” unique about it … “Things” are born, grow and ripen, then wither and die. The reality behind these words is infinite’ (Lefebvre 1991: 70). Important to the present conversation is his definition of nature as that which creates an infinite array of unique things. Lefebvre suggests how we might recreate this process in the urban, when he ‘calls for the immediate production or creation of something other than nature: a second, different or new nature, so to speak. This means the production … of urban space, both as a product and as a work, in the sense in which art created works’ (Ibid: 109). The Deleuzian philosopher Elizabeth Grosz (2008) sheds some light on what this ‘product’ might be in her own reflections of the consistencies between art and nature: ‘Art and nature, art in nature, share a common structure: that of excessive and useless production – production for its own sake, production for the sake of profusion and differentiation’ (p. 9). So rather than space being produced for utilitarian purposes the urban should be constructed like art creates works, so that it produces diverse creative and intuitive affects equivalent to those produced by nature. Lefebvre’s provocation: how can we construct an urban that produces profound affects in the urban dweller? This became a seeding question for the sonic rupture model presented in Chapter 4. Lefebvre has developed an argument for nature without lamenting the immediate. He seeks a practical solution: the production of urban space in the way that art creates works. Rather than space being produced for the utilitarian and controlling desires of capitalism to which the urban dweller is subject, urban space is produced with the creative and intuitive unfoldings of the artist engaged in the production of works. It is the affects of those exposed to artworks that make art so powerful, just as nature creates affects that cause its apotheosis by environmentalists. The question becomes: How can we create


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the urban such that diverse and profound affects might emerge within the urban dweller? This question lies at the heart of this book.

Creating new natures: A feeling appears If the urban crust is to evolve into new natures, it must develop qualities that both stimulate the imaginative and revitalize our well-being. As discussed above, nature, or the affective earth, abundantly provided such moments to our ancestors.26 A challenge in the design of our future cities is how we can afford similar moments of heightened awareness within everyday urban environments. Despite the benefits of safety, comfort and efficiency,27 it is not in our interests to be reduced entirely to functional expressions of the working and consuming city28; our well-being is equally dependent on a sense of interconnection with the world around us. To experience this interconnection, the homogenous soundscape must be ruptured so that creative moments and spontaneous happenings might burst forth. The repeating motifs of the sonic city (the spatial and temporal fixity of sounds) prevent these emergences; however, due to the malleability of sounds, the sonic practitioner can reshape their affective capacities. It is important to recall that it is the sonic practitioner who, by reconfiguring existent environmental sounds for the emergence of new awareness, acts as an intermediary for the creation of new natures. This process is not new. It can be traced back to ancient shamanic traditions in which the nexus of environmental sounds, listening and altered states of consciousness led to the creation of new imaginative worlds. The process-of-musicality, we might say, is an ancient practice that resurfaces in the sonic rupture. Improvisational musician Tim Hodgkinson explored the link between music, environment and shamanic ritual in a paper titled ‘Siberian Shamanism and Improvised Music’ (1996). He spent part of his musical career trying to recreate shamanic rituals in concert-hall conditions so that altered inner states of awareness might occur in his audiences; however, the desired affects were not realized. Upon visiting East Siberia and observing a Tuvan shaman musically engaging with environmental sounds, he was told that ‘a composer can’t do it; when you’re overwhelmed with these feelings, a melody, or rhythm appears, to

Creating New Natures


help you perform this feeling’ (Hodgkinson 1996: 62). Hodgkinson explains, ‘In the cultures of shamanism, listening to natural sound and becoming aware of inner psychological states are intimately linked’ (Ibid: 65). The shaman listens directly to the environment and responds musically, and from this, a feeling emerges that creates something new.29 This is exactly the purpose of the process-of-musicality, except it is the urban with which this link is made. The use of the term ‘shamanism’, as understood in the present argument, is applied to all those who strive to imagine their world in new ways. Shamanism is not performing the actions of the marginal, but a capacity available to any one of us who listens deeply and momentarily submits to the emergent vibratory nexus of the rupture: to feel space is to be affected, and from this interrelationship something new emerges. The dreaming of new worlds, by sonic practitioner and those who encounter rupture, is integral to the creation of new natures.

Notes 1 As discussed in the introduction, Brian Massumi’s treatment of affect, particularly in his book Parables for the Virtual (2002), has strongly influenced the understanding of affect in this book. A significant point of difference relates to the term ‘virtual’. Massumi discusses the relationships between the virtual and the potential it drives; however, in the present argument, only the term ‘potential’ has been adopted. The sonic rupture considers only the force of potential from which new realities unfold; what drives this potential is of little practical relevance to the actual work of a sonic practitioner who is located in the real, and engages only with the affective possibilities of arising potential, not that which drives it. While the driving force of the virtual is a central aspect of Massumi’s work, and is philosophically important, it risks confusing the present argument, and hence has been uncoupled from the practice-led approach presented in this book. Besides this, the commonalties with Massumi’s position are consistent. He writes, ‘Potential strikes like a motor force, a momentum driving a serial unfolding of events. The immanence of that forcing (is) termed (the) virtual. … The virtual … is insensate. It cannot be felt. It appears only in the potentials it drives and the possibilities that unfold from their driving.’ (Massumi 2002: 136)


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2 The mythic intentions of this description resonate with Elizabeth Grosz’s discussions of the nature of chaos. She writes, ‘I want to start with some mythical sense of “the beginning.” “In the beginning” is chaos, the whirling, unpredictable movement of forces, vibratory oscillations that constitute the universe. Chaos here may be understood not as absolute disorder but rather as a plethora of orders, forms, wills – forces that cannot be distinguished or differentiated from each other, both matter and its conditions for being otherwise, both the actual and the virtual indistinguishably’ (5). Grosz explains that the creative act is a type of ‘framing’ by which chaos becomes accessible to the senses: ‘Framing is how chaos becomes territory. Framing is the means by which objects are delimited, qualities unleashed and art mode possible’ (p. 17). 3 Increasingly, the rural succumbs to the functional imperatives of the urban: it is appropriated to feed the ever-growing populations of global cities. In the process, small-scale, community-led farming is replaced with large-scale technological agriculture. For more information on the impact of corporatedriven agriculture on small-scale farming, visit La Via Campesina’s website, (accessed 16 June 2015). 4 For further discussion on the relevance of the striated and smooth space concept to urban soundscape design, see Lacey (2014b). 5 The urban crust might be considered an expression of the ‘Anthropocene’. The Anthropocene is a term that describes the most recent geological epoch, which is defined by humanity’s impacts on the earth and atmosphere. However, it remains a controversial term, with some unconvinced that we have reached the end of the Holocene epoch. For further information see http://quaternary. (accessed 8 February 2016). 6 This includes those rural areas, which have been procured for the services of the urban. 7 In his essay ‘Society Against the State’, which influenced Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of the ‘nomad’ and ‘striated and smooth space’ in A Thousand Plateaus, anthropologist Pierre Clastres (1989: 203) writes, ‘Only one structural, cataclysmic upheaval is capable of transforming primitive society, destroying it in the process: the mutation that causes to rise up within that society, or from outside it, the thing whose very absence defines primitive society, hierarchical authority, the power relation, the subjugation of men – in a word, the State.’ In the present argument the social conditions of pre-state societies are considered expressions of expanded affective potential, for where the functionalist imperative is absent (or less pronounced), creativity is more likely to emerge

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in the everyday. Again this is not to suggest that affective potential is absent in global cities. Rather it is shaped into replicating events that precludes other possibilities. Sonic ruptures intend to create divergent moments, if only briefly, in contemporary global cities. 8 For example, traditional Australian Aboriginal beliefs are inseparable from relationships with the land. ‘ “Ownership,” in the Aboriginal sense, is circumscribed by extensive and intimate knowledge of particular places. Individuals who function as guardians of these places do so only by virtue of the knowledge they hold about the land. The land is not attached to their names; they, as individuals or clan groups are instead identified with the names of the country.’ (Benterrak, Muecke and Roe 1996: 147) Steven Feld’s (1996: 101) ethnological study of the Bosavi discusses links between rainforest sound environments and language; for example, ‘Kaluli … extend their naturalness from the experience of the rainforest soundscape to their own vocal and instrumental music. Voices and rattles are made to “lift-up-over” like the trees of the forest canopy.’ Edmund Carpenter’s (1959: 10) study of the Inuit explores relationships between Arctic sound environments and cultural knowledge, for example, ‘when travelling by boat along the coastline in heavy fog, a navigator relies on the sound of waves and the direction of the wind. Without seeing light or land or star he is still able to find his course by checking the wind and listening to the sound of the surf.’ 9 There are enough creative acts in the city that demonstrate this. Graffiti, subcultures and spontaneous gatherings prove that the creative can never be repressed. However, these remain at the fringes of society, always under siege by the imperatives that seek to render the urban homogenous. For example, urban design interventions prevent skateboarders from experimenting with urban structures, and punitive council by-laws seek to prohibit graffiti art. 10 In Australia alone, there are vast numbers of social groupings with unique belief systems (violently reduced since European colonization) expressing diverse forms of dance, stories, painting and music (acts which continue to the present day, both as traditional and contemporary art forms). Beyond this, we can only imagine the profundity of embodied ritual that connected indigenous social bodies with the affective earth. 11 For an earlier discussion on comparisons between these two environmental movements, see Lacey (2011b) and Lacey (2012a). 12 This view is lent legitimacy by the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, which describes acoustics as being ‘concerned with the physical characteristics and


Sonic Rupture behaviour of sound, rather than its perception’. See (accessed 10 July 2015).

13 Schafer suggests that earth mounds might be built around urban parks to attenuate noise, while artefacts such as aeolian harps, water features and nonelectroacoustic sonic attractions might be installed to produce hi-fi listening conditions (Schafer 1977: 246–52). Perhaps it is the difficulty of realizing such ambitions that has encouraged acoustic ecologists to concentrate their compositional prowess in concert halls, where hi-fi soundscapes, unachievable in everyday urban spaces, are more easily realized. 14 Hildegard Westerkamp, Barry Truax and Murray Schafer are obvious examples. But there are other internationally recognized composers who identify with acoustic ecology, including Ros Bandt, Susan Frykberg and Leah Barclay. 15 There are a number of papers written by Barry Truax, Hildegard Westerkamp and Andra McCartney discussing soundscape composition. Westerkamp’s (2000) Soundscape Composition: Linking Inner and Outer Worlds states that a soundscape composition must always be ‘rooted in the themes of the sound environment’ and should never be ‘abstract’ (p. 2). The art form is rooted in a deep listening to the sound environment, which precedes those field recordings that constitute its compositional material. In the context of the urban soundscape design programme presented in this book, the reinterpretation of field recordings in concert-hall conditions risks idealizing the sound world rather than confronting its immediate affective conditions. 16 It should be noted that the WSP applied hi-fi listening conditions to preindustrial village soundscapes as well as to natural soundscapes. See http://www. (accessed 16 June 2015). 17 Schafer (1977) states that ‘the outright prohibition of sound being impossible, and all exercises in noise abatement being consequently futile, these negative activities must now be turned to positive advantage following the indications of the new art and science of acoustic design’ (p. 238). 18 Regarding scientific legitimacy, the internationally recognized field-recordist Bernie Krause has resolved this problem by helping to create a new scientific discipline titled ‘soundscape ecology’. This has paved the way for a new scientific discipline that examines ‘sound in landscapes based on an understanding of how sound, from various sources – biological, geophysical and anthropogenic – can be used to understand coupled natural-human dynamics across different spatial and temporal scales’ (Pijanowski et al. 2010: 1). When taken in conjunction with the plethora of studies which show that noise is a health

Creating New Natures


issue (see Goines 2007 for a comprehensive overview), and the burgeoning recognition by various government and bureaucratic agencies of the importance of protecting and managing soundscapes (see Chapter 1), it seems that the initial activist intentions of acoustic ecology have been well and truly realized. 19 This connection becomes obvious when viewing Wilson’s praise for the work of Bernie Krause. See (accessed 16 June 2015). 20 For example, the notion that we have an ingrained affinity with nature could also be applied to the built environment, such as urban designs that reflect the geometric qualities of natural vegetation (Joye and DeBlock 2011: 200). Joye and Deblock also point out that influential environmental ethicists have ignored biophilia, as they do not consider a scientific imperative as essential to their arguments (p. 208). 21 Morton’s argument goes much deeper than this. He attaches this act of distancing to the ‘Beautiful Soul’ concept, which is derived from Hegel’s use of the term. Morton explains ‘the name Beautiful Soul was first developed by none other than Hegel himself to describe a certain attitude he found typified in Romanticism’ (Morton 2009: 2). 22 Morton himself makes the connection. He writes that Ecology Without Nature ‘tread(s) the path paved’ by Cronon (Morton 2010: 3). 23 This is not to suggest Morton would be amenable to such a view. The solutions he offers to the problems he identifies in environmentalism takes a darker turn. He states, ‘the ecological thought, the thinking of interconnectedness, has a dark side embodied not in a hippie aesthetic of life over death, or a sadisticsentimental Bambification of sentient beings, but in a “Goth” assertion of the contingent and necessarily queer idea that we want to stay with a dying world: dark ecology’ (Morton 2010: 185). Such a melancholy position is understandable in the context of present ecological conditions. But we should consider that the affective earth has demonstrated in previous extinctions that it is capable of recreating diversity. Ours is not just a dying world then, but also a creative world. 24 This is not to say that they are not aware of this somewhat obvious fact: Cronon mentions that we should honour the world we did not create (Cronon 1996: 22) and Morton is emphatic that we must develop new relations with the nonhuman, or what he calls the ‘strange stranger’ (Morton 2010: 41). 25 There is a growing body of literature supporting the hypothesis that nature sounds improve human health and well-being. See Brown and Muhar (2004) and Macarow et al. (2011) for discussions on the relationship between restorative health environments and nature sounds. See Gidlöf-Gunnarsson and


Sonic Rupture Öhrström (2007: 115) for extensive references to ‘literature (that) indicates … contact with nature influence(s) people’s health and psychological well-being’.

26 For an interesting discussion connecting animism, caves and the imaginative, see Blesser and Salter (2007: 71–3). 27 But only for those who can obtain it. It is unlikely that these benefits are useful to the homeless and other vulnerable groups in our society. However, growing inequality is an issue that concerns mainstream politics, qua the distribution of wealth. An affective politics looks to benefit the intangible life of humanity – the creative, the imaginative and our sense of interconnection. Regarding mainstream politics, the sonic rupture is democratic insofar as its public presence makes it accessible to any member of society. 28 Hannah Arendt’s thoughts on the dangers of societies submitting to the comforts of ‘automatic functioning’ are interesting to consider. She writes, ‘the society of jobholders, demands of its members a sheer automatic functioning, as though individual life had actually been submerged in the overall life process of the species and the only active decision still required of the individual were to let go, so to speak, to abandon his individuality, the still individually sensed pain and trouble of living, and acquiesce in a dazed, tranquilised, functional type of behavior’ [emphasis added] (Arendt 1958: 322). For further reading on the application of Arendt’s ideas to urban soundscape design, see Lacey (2014b: 85–8). 29 It should be noted that the Tuvan shaman is not considered to be an ordinary person. Hodgkinson (1996: 60) states that ‘a person became a shaman often following an illness and psychological crisis’, and quotes a Tuvan shaman as saying, ‘a shaman is not an ordinary person’ (Ibid: 62). In the present argument, shamanism is treated as a generalized quality of listening, sound-making and feeling that can be shared across the social body. For a detailed discussion of shamanism, see Price-Williams and Hughes (1994).

Interlude: The Urban Roar

Few of us can be lucky enough to know how our ancestors knew the gods, deities and spirits that inhabited the land. We can only imagine how the world was perceived when earthly affect was an integral component of everyday consciousness. What would it be like to walk across the land entwined with the beings that inhabit each tree and hill? Perhaps the closest we can get is to remind ourselves, like Michel Serres (2007), that ‘the world is divine and full of divine things … (for) the real is not rational, it is mysterious’ (p. 46). To know this, if only for a moment, is to become submerged in those tides of swirling affective potential, to be realized in limitless ways by the expressive subject. Serres’ discussion in his book The Parasite1 suggests that noise might be considered a harbinger of new orders. He writes, ‘noise, through its presence and absence, the intermittence of the signal, produces the new system’ (Serres 2007: 52). Imagining the noisy soundscapes of the city as intermittent requires a long timescale: our noisy present bookended by an early-industrial era and some unknown future. And in between, an urban soundscape, in its totality, an arising, singular roar replicating itself globally as the urban crust spreads. We may not know the endgame of our urban evolution, but we can participate in its unfolding by responding to the immediate environmental conditions expressed by its roar, by working with, and not judging, the noisy soundscape of which we are a part. By diversifying the urban roar into multiple intonations, which speak to us in unexpected ways, perhaps we can (re)discover Serres’ irrational joy, right here, in our cities,2 by consciously entwining with our own urban ecologies.


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Notes 1 This forms part of a larger discussion regarding the role of the tripartite ‘parasite’ – biological, social and noise – in transforming social relations. 2 Serres, it should be pointed out, was no fan of noise as it is commonly understood. He writes, ‘Noise is stercoral: it makes the occupation of an expanse intolerable and thus gets it for itself ’ (Serres 2007: 94–5).


Noise Meditations

Creative practice research, as discussed in the preface, is the development of knowledge through a recursive process of project development. Hence, this chapter will explain each stage in the recursive realization of a series of sitespecific urban sound installations whose unfolding began with the removal of urban noise, and ended with the discovery of the meditative potential present in such noise. In its totality, Chapter 3 will expose the foundation of the sonic rupture model set forth in Chapter 4. The creative practice pathway outlined here has five stages, as shown in the arc depicted in Figure 1: Discovering Urban Noise, Silencing Urban Exhalations, Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, Subterranean Voices and Noise Meditations. Additionally, two bifurcated projects, also shown in Figure 1, deviate from the arc: Intimate Footsteps and Mediumistic. These two bifurcations led to the development of sound installations that differed from the central theme of the recursive process, but nevertheless became important components of the sonic rupture model. Admittedly, it may seem somewhat solipsistic for a creative practitioner to write exclusively about his or her own work; however, I want to be clear that I am writing as a creative practice researcher who explores the interface of urban design and the sonic arts1 by way of urban sound installations. Obviously, it is the making and the doing that confirm the validity of the research findings, and therefore, a large portion of this book is dedicated to its discussion. The descriptions are often technical. This is to provide the reader, who might be interested in the making of sound installations, with a clear understanding of how such installations might be realized. Responding to a site by developing a relationship with it precedes the idea. Realizing the idea means some type of technical application, particularly in the case of the

72 Sonic Rupture Figure 1 The arc of project development. The arc stretches the length of the research process. The arc itself comprises five projects that form the major research theme – discovering the meditative potential of urban noise. Note the two projects that bifurcate from the main theme. In their totality, the seven projects reveal five approaches for the production of sonic ruptures: addition, subtraction, transformation, passion and disclosure.

Noise Meditations


electroacoustic applications that are identified in this chapter. Furthermore, this work is designed to help emerging sonic practitioners enjoy the rewards and respond to the challenges of pursuing the application of a sonic arts practice to the public spaces of our cities. The opening two chapters of this book are a consequence of the making practice described now. Nevertheless, some discussion of different thinkers and movements was necessary to situate the project work in the broader context of urban soundscape design, sound studies and the infrastructure projects of future cities.

Sites-of-respite The research environment in which my work was conducted, SIAL Sound Studios at RMIT University, has a history of promoting the value of soundscapes to local government agencies. In conjunction with the City of Melbourne, SIAL Sound Studios created two virtual ‘sites-of-respite’ as part of  an interactive gaming environment created for the CitySounds2 project. One site-of-respite contained a water feature, and the other was dominated by wind chimes.3 In both instances, survey results demonstrated that the majority of respondents desired that sites-of-respite exist in urban spaces. This result is unsurprising, given that the noises of the computer-generated environment completely disappeared when the listener encountered a site-of-respite, something not easily achieved in the real world. Nevertheless, the results were clear – quiet spaces were desirable. As an outgrowth of the CitySounds project, I compiled a report cataloguing spaces in the Melbourne CBD that could potentially be developed as sites-of-respite. The report was constructed upon axioms familiar to an acoustic ecology approach to urban soundscape design4: replacing lo-fi (noisy) soundscapes with hi-fi (healthy) soundscapes.5 As part of the report, I completed a literature review. This demonstrated that a noise removal focus on urban soundscape design is supported by a diverse range of academic researchers who conclude that urban noise is a health issue,6 which includes multiple studies providing evidence that people feel more at ease in spaces characterized by nature sounds.7 This supports the more traditional


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acoustic ecology arguments, with which, in this early stage of my research, I was entirely aligned. After an extensive two-week exploration of Melbourne’s network of laneways in August 2010, I decided upon a total of six potential sites (see Figure 2). An important discovery was that although Melbourne’s network of laneways are characterized by high brick walls that attenuate traffic noise, all of the laneways contained the sounds of air conditioners, exhaust fans and/or ventilation outlets. An example is provided in Audio Sample 1. Exceptions to the rule are those laneways in which the sounds of restaurant patrons dominate, as heard in Audio Sample 2. The ventilation sounds still exist; however, the patrons are masking these sounds. Audio Sample 1: Ventilation outlet (31s) A ventilation outlet is heard while the listener transitions into the potential siteof-respite in Manton Lane. Note also the high-pitched buzz towards the end of the recording. As this was one of the quietest laneways discovered in the report, the audio sample is suggestive of just how predominant buzzes and drones are in the Melbourne CBD.

Figure 2 The six sites-of-respite. After deciding on six sites, I took stereo recordings of each, using the microphones visible in the bottom right photo. Stereo was selected so as to produce more interesting sound files for playback than would be achieved with mono recordings. These sites were considered potential sites-of-respite based on their quietness relative to listener experience of the immediately surrounding ambience: typically main roads with higher background sound levels.

Noise Meditations


Audio Sample 2: Laneway restaurant (31s) A Melbourne laneway full of people dining and drinking coffee. While city sounds are still prevalent, the buzzes and drones of the city are masked by the sounds of socializing. The audio sample suggests that while we may not find quiet in the city, we can find the comforting, even energizing sounds of social activity.

I was frustrated at the time – it seemed impossible to locate a site-of-respite in a city dominated by the drones of air conditioners and ventilation outlets – although in retrospect, the search was futile: I quickly realized that I  was simply encountering a limitation of acoustic ecology’s soundscape design imperative. It is not possible to create hi-fi soundscapes within contemporary urban soundscapes that are defined by noise. It is true that there were some places that were quieter than others, but these were hardly spaces that could be considered hi-fi. During my research, I also noted the city’s myriad churches, which seemed to adequately provide the desired hi-fi sound environment. I wondered if churches could be reimagined as non-religious spaces for quiet contemplation?8 Such a possibility has been pursued in the City of Helsinki. The K2S Architect-designed Chapel of Silence9 is free of religious iconography

Figure 3 Helsinki Kampii Chapel of Silence. The structure reproduces the benefits of silence and contemplation found in a church, by applying modern architectural techniques to a secular countenance (photo taken 23 May 2012 near the end of its construction).


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but replete with the experience of contemplative silence, which offers a site-ofrespite from the noises of the city. The sites-of-respite report initiated my concerns about the usefulness of acoustic ecology’s attitudes towards urban noise. Noise, particularly from air conditioners, exhaust fans and ventilation outlets, was a ubiquitous and inescapable presence throughout the Melbourne CBD: it seemed an unrealistic fantasy to expect spaces of contemplative silence in the outdoor public spaces of our cities.10 Lest this position appears Melbourne-centric, I contend that the sonic conditions of global cities are comparative. For example, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong are also cities where the incessant drone of air conditioners and ventilation outlets are ubiquitous.

Subtraction I was not ready to give up on acoustic ecology’s soundscape design imperative just yet. I remained fascinated with the thought of removing noise and hearing/ observing for myself the associated changes in the soundscape. In particular, could the subtraction of noise achieve the production of a hi-fi soundscape? The project Silencing Urban Exhalations was completed in October 2011, as part of the RMIT cross-university soundscape studies elective. It involved the subtraction of noise emanating from an exhaust stack situated at the centre of RMIT University’s city campus. The shutdown of the noise source lasted for thirty minutes, from 3.00 to 3.30 pm, on 5 October 2011. The exhaust stack removes exhaust fumes from a delivery bay situated directly beneath the stack. It is a startling example of poor acoustic design, where the effects of noise on social space have been completely ignored. Audio Sample 3 is a recording demonstrating the noise’s domination of the space, which is further exacerbated by its location beneath a black metal awning, which reflects the sound, thus increasing the volume of the noise. Audio Sample 3: Exhaust outlet recording (20s) The constant noise has an effect on speech intelligibility, as heard in this recording. The noise, much like the physical object from which it emanates, is given central importance in the space. Note that the human voices seem distant, although they are, in fact, close to the microphone.

Noise Meditations


Figure 4 Site of the exhaust stack. The exhaust stack pictured produces a loud and constant drone in a socially active space at the heart of the RMIT city campus. To the left, a stall (part of a market held weekly on the site) is visible. The site is also used as a meeting and event space, and is a transitory route between several important buildings.

Shutdown: Those who perceived changes The moment of the shutdown was a significant event for my students and me. My students had gone through a process of ear-cleaning described by Schafer as ‘a systematic program for training the ears to listen more discriminatingly to sounds, particularly those of the environment’ (Schafer 1977: 272), which included soundwalks, and intensive listening and sound-mapping exercises. This contributed to the group being highly attuned listeners at the moment of shutdown, resulting in an instant transformation of the acoustic space of the intervention site. Human voices and people rummaging through items in nearby market stalls could be clearly heard, and the sounds of the distant city were audible due to an expansion of the acoustic horizon.11 Audio Sample 4


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is a stereo-rendered recording of the shutdown, which was recorded with a Soundfield Ambisonic microphone and a Sound Devices 744T field recorder. Audio Sample 4: Shutdown (32s) This audio recording captures the transformation of the space at the moment of shutdown. What feels like an enclosed space suddenly expands outward, and a more diverse range of sounds, particularly human voices, emerges. This is a result of the expanded acoustic horizon and the removal of the masking effects created by the exhaust outlet.

These observations were consistent with data collected during the shutdown. 1/3 band octave sound levels were recorded on site before and during shutdown, represented in graphical form in Figure 5. While the exhaust stack was operating, a significant increase in the volume of frequencies above 125 Hz was identified, particularly between 500 and 4,000 Hz, a filtration12 phenomenon caused by the metal awning. As a result, a mid-frequency drone is dominant (heard in audio samples 3 and 4) which heightens the intrusion of the noise into the frequency range of human speech (which is most sensitive at 1–4 kHz). I remember observing three people in conversation near the

Figure 5 Data comparing sound levels at the site. The upper line represents the sound level and octave bands generated by the active noise source and the lower line represents similar data generated during shutdown of the noise source. Note that the decrease in sound levels is highest at 500 Hz and above, which accounts for the foregrounding of the human voice upon the removal of the noise.

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stack. Typically, people huddle close together due to the masking effect of the dominant noise source,13 but with the noise source removed, the conversational partners stood at least one metre apart: a symbolic representation, I thought, of the humanization of the site – a space suddenly appropriated (to use the language of Henri Lefebvre) as social space.

Shutdown: Those who perceived no changes A number of the students’ friends were at the site during the shutdown. Some of my students, at the moment of shutdown, asked their friends if they noticed any change. Although only a couple of metres away from the noise source, their friends replied that they noticed no change in the environment at all. This includes both the shutdown and, half an hour later, the reintroduction of the noise. These student reflections were affirmed by my own observations. During the shutdown, I noticed a stallholder, whose table is often situated beneath the exhaust stack (the stall can be seen in the background in Figure 4), was looking up during the shutdown, whereas I had noticed on previous visits that the stallholder was typically looking towards the ground. I considered this to be a visual metaphor for the oppressiveness of the noise source. However, one of my students reported that she had asked the stallholder if any changes were noticed in the space. The stallholder answered that no change in the environment was noticed, and the only reason he was surveying the space was that he had heard news that something significant was going to occur (no doubt seeking a visual cue). These observations had a significant impact on my emerging attitudes to soundscape design. Although the acoustic ecology movement, and a diverse range of academic papers I had read, assume that noise removal should be axiomatic to urban soundscape design, the anecdotal evidence I collected during Silencing Urban Exhalations suggested that most bystanders, beyond my attuned students, had not noticed any changes to the environment. It is possible that this lack of awareness by the public is attributable to what Barry Truax and Michael Bull term the ‘alienated listener’, who withdraws from the life of the city.14 But if urban noise has such a negative impact on the listener, then surely the overt act of removing a dominating noise source from a social space should come to the public’s immediate attention? Any way I wanted to


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consider it, it was clear to me that the temporary removal of the noise source was of little consequence to many of those in the space during the shutdown.15 At the time I considered these responses to Silencing Urban Exhalations to be more suitably explained from a phenomenological position16 rather than the binary (lo-fi/hi-fi) position of acoustic ecology: one person’s noise is another person’s sound, is another person’s lack of concern. However, it has since become clear to me that considering such moments with theories of affect is more useful; ostensibly, the public may be affected by these sounds without being aware of the impact. We might assume that given a longer period of time that the absence of the noise source would produce more discernible affects on human behaviour, even if the public were not immediately conscious of these changes. I maintain that the subtraction of noise remains an important approach to urban soundscape design, if only for those attentive listeners who are positively affected by its removal. In this way the lo-fi–hi-fi distinction, as a tool concerning the removal of noise, retains its importance in the sonic rupture model.

Revealing bureaucratic power networks A further important discovery within this project was the identification of bureaucratic power networks protecting noises in urban spaces. The simple act of flicking an ‘off ’ switch instantly activated a network of concealed bureaucracies that emerged to protect the presence and production of the noise. It was an early indication of the prevalence, and ubiquitous power, of functionalist imperatives in urban space.17 Over a period of three months, I contended with the following university departments on a weekly and sometimes daily basis: Property Services, (which includes Fire Services and Facility Services, responsible for air-conditioning maintenance); the ClientRelations Manager; the School of Design and Social Context (including the Health & Safety Officer, the Audio-Technical Manager and the Ethics Committee). Other University units encountered included Student Union Officials, Market Stall Holders, Cleaning Services (who complained on the day of the interventions that their route to nearby rubbish bins was being blocked) and finally, RMIT Security kept a presence, and occasional passers-by surveyed the area and made concerned phone calls. It took three months to organize a

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shutdown that lasted only thirty minutes, and the shutdown was only deemed acceptable as it was attached to a student project. It seemed extraordinary to me at the time that I had to go through so many bureaucratic channels to implement such a simple procedure. The experience identified just how difficult it would be to implement a citywide removal of noise sources for extended periods of time.

Discovering the striated soundscape I recorded the shutdown with a Soundfield microphone and Sound Devices 744T field recorder. The recording was decoded to a stereo file, which can be heard in Audio Sample 3 and Audio Sample 4. I produced a sonogram of the recording using AudioSculpt.18 Figure 6 is a sonogram of the moment that the exhaust fan is shutdown. The visual representation of the transformed sonic environment is striking. While producing this sonogram, I was in the process of reading Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of striated and smooth space. A passage stood out to me: striated space can be understood as ‘parallel verticals (that) have formed an independent dimension capable of spreading everywhere’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2004: 408). It occurred to me that the broadband sounds of air

Figure 6 Sonogram of Shutdown. A sonogram is a striking visual representation of the listening experience in a space. The sonogram shown here is of a continuous 32-second recording, which is the equivalent length of Audio Sample 4. The noise source casts an acoustic fog upon the space. Upon its removal voice formants appear to spring forth.


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Figure 7 Sonogram of McLean Alley. The bottom section of a sonogram (expanded) of a recording from Mclean Alley, one of the potential sites-of-respite. A similar pattern can be seen at the bottom-left of Figure 6, before the exhaust fan is shut down. I came to call this phenomenon the Striated Soundscape.

conditioners, ventilation outlets and exhaust fans that dominate the lower frequencies of nearly all of my urban sound recordings have this characteristic (see Figure 7): an independent dimension that has spread everywhere. It was an eerie moment – as if this ever-reproducing and homogenizing form had revealed itself to me like the spectre of some ghostly presence lingering in a photograph. It is these very striations of space that people do not notice (like my students’ friends who did not notice the shutdown). This ubiquitous, audible force shapes human behaviour and, in so doing, makes normal its own homogenized, incessant presence. I came to see these striations as a voice that the city constantly expresses: the urban roar referred to in the interlude. This thing we disdainfully call ‘noise’, I suddenly perceived as our city, calling out, everywhere. I found myself asking, what is this voice saying? I wanted to decode its message. I now perceived the noises of the city not as irritants to be removed, but rather a homogenizing voice that human society had created and to which human society was now subjected. One that with creative intervention might be disposed to vocal diversifications – its potential sonic affects multiplied, from the homogenous to the diverse. It is this moment that came to inform future projects.

Addition As an approach to urban soundscape design, I discovered that subtracting noise presents multiple complications. I now posed the question: What if

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I was to add sounds to the urban environment? If I cannot remove the exhaust outlet and air-conditioning sounds, can I change their quality by adding to, and augmenting, existing sounds? This is the type of reflective moment that is critical to a creative practice research process. These end-of-project reflections act as the onset for the following iteration: the recursive process in action. The outcome of this reflection was the project Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, which was installed as part of the City of Melbourne’s public art programme in 2012. The work was installed in an unnamed Melbourne laneway from August to November, 2012 and operated seven days a week from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm. The following sections are a detailed account of the conceptual and material developments of the project, both in the field and in the studio.

Discovering urban ecologies My original application to the City of Melbourne suggested Rainbow Alley as a potential site for the realization of the project Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. I had initially come across Rainbow Alley during my sites-ofrespite work, and had been intrigued by its doorways opening onto fatal drops, and staircases that led to brick walls, not to mention its abundance of air conditioners, ventilation outlets and exhaust fans, as seen in Figure 8.

Figure 8 Rainbow Alley. A view of the southern (left) and western (right) boundaries of Rainbow Alley. Note the abundance of air conditioners and rubbish bins, and the general deterioration of the site. The water tank provides a reference point for the image overlap.


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Figure 9 Recording in Rainbow Alley. I spent many hours recording the sounds of Rainbow Alley. In this photo I am using a Sanken shotgun microphone to record the multiplicious details of individual air conditioners.

During the month of August 2011, I spent many hours – day and night – in this space listening, recording (see Figure 9) and note-taking (see Figures 10, 11 and 12). I completely immersed myself in the space, and came to understand its rhythms, particularities and eccentricities. It was a transformative experience. For me, the space was alive: I imagined that it was speaking to me. Consequently, rather than judging the space as a lo-fi soundscape to be maligned, I experienced it as an affective sonic ecology – I was being affected by my long exposure to its sonic character. Within this time of immersion my

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Figure 10 Note-taking in Rainbow Alley. During the listening and recording periods, I took extensive notes on the rhythms and particularities of the Rainbow Alley ecology. See Figure 11 and 12 for more details.

perception of the urban environment was shifting from an acoustic ecology outlook towards an appreciation of the affective capacity of sonic ecologies. This was another pivotal point in the creative practice research process, when myself-as-musician and the city-as-music begin to interconnect as an ecological interrelationship, where the city plays me and I play it back. This is what I eventually came to perceive as the process-of-musicality, discussed in Chapter 1. Audio Sample 5: Air conditioners turning on (15s) The sounds of three recordings of air conditioners turning on are played sequentially. The air conditioners are labelled respectively in Figure 11 as 3, 4 and 6. Note the subtle differences between each air conditioner, with each one producing a different timbre as it switches on and roars in to life. I came to see each of these machines as having their own unique characteristics.


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Figure 11 Written notes recorded in Rainbow Alley (example). Each rectangle represents an air conditioner. The air conditioners are labelled 1 to 8 (7 and 8 are, respectively, an exhaust outlet and a ventilation outlet), and a corresponding table records their start-up and switch-off times. The rectangles with crosses indicate potential placement of ready-made air conditioner units created for the installation. Other sounds in the site have been recorded in the top right of the picture, and a general reflection of the sound quality of each air conditioner and ventilation outlet is recorded in the bottom left of the image. Audio Sample 6: Air conditioners operating (26s) An air conditioner, exhaust outlet and ventilation outlet, labelled in Figure  11 respectively as 5, 7 and 8. Air conditioner 5 possesses a unique rhythmic element that went on to inform one of the compositions in the installation, titled mic_movement (see below). The exhaust outlet and ventilation outlet had the strongest sonic presence in terms of the length of time they remained switched on, and their overall spatial dominance. Audio Sample 7: Other Rainbow Alley sounds (1m 42s) This sample orientates the listener within the sonic ecology of Rainbow Alley by providing an inventory of its existing sonic conditions. This sonic ecology is similar to many that I encountered in other laneways during the sites-of-respite report. In order, the sounds are: distant tram bells, approaching street cleaner, plane flying overhead, garage door opening, crows calling, sparrows chirping, moving bin, unidentified bell and door opening and closing.

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Figure 12 Example of written notes recorded in Rainbow Alley. This image provides a clear view of the division of the eight sound sources and their start-up and switch-off times, over a 75-minute listening period. By this time I am intimate with the rhythms of the space, and the individual and collective sounds of different configurations of air conditioners and ventilation outlets. Other sounds familiar to the site include rubbishbin movements, doors opening and closing, bird calls, tram bells and a garage door opening and closing.

Studio tools Revoicing the Striated Soundscape included eight electroacoustic compositions played through a quadraphonic speaker array that mixed with the very soundscape from which the sounds were recorded. It was important to me to only compose with the sounds collected from the site. This would ensure (as much as possible) that the reintroduced sounds would interconnect with their source sounds. The post-field recording sessions were followed by many hours of studio time in which the sounds were reworked for reintroduction into the site. The sounds were collected in Rainbow Alley with a Sanken shotgun microphone, a stereo pair of Rode NT5s and a Soundfield Ambisonic microphone, all recorded into Sound Devices 722 and 744T portable audio recorders and transferred to a Mac desktop for editing. My working method involved working across a suite of software packages,


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typically opened simultaneously. These included Reaper, AudioFinder, Ableton Live, MetaSynth and WasP.

Reaper My first step was to download the field recordings into the digital audio workstation Reaper. I utilized the regions manager to extract the specific sounds that I wanted to work with. This process informed the types of compositions I eventually created, as I built the compositions based on the most common sound types that I identified in the site. By listening again to the field recordings, I identified that the most common sounds were air conditioners19 turning on and off, air conditioners running continuously, doors opening and closing (typically office-workers from adjoining buildings enjoying a cigarette), wheeled bins being moved along the ground, and bins being emptied or filled. There were of course many more sounds (see Figure 13), but as these were the most frequent and commonly occurring they tended to inform composition decisions.

Figure 13 List of sound types identified in Rainbow Alley. The list of sound types arrived at was a function of editing and categorizing sound recordings from Rainbow Alley. The main sounds used in the compositions were ‘air-con constant’, ‘air-con on’ and ‘air-con off ’, ‘door’ and ‘garbage’.

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MetaSynth Having a suite of sounds to work with, I began extensive experimentations in MetaSynth. In particular, I took advantage of the granular synthesis functions in the Effects window, including ‘Grain’, ‘Shuffler’ and ‘Stretch’. I inserted a range of sounds into ImageSynth’s multisampler, and then used the drawing functions in the ImageSynth window to apply various textures to existing sounds, particularly pitch-shifting. By analysing the spectrum of air-conditioning recordings into the ImageSynth, which revealed the parallel lines of the broadband sounds, I was able to alter the striated soundscape (see above). Using the drawing tools, I produced multiple iterations of the striated soundscape, including modulations and fluttering effects. It is these experiments in particular from which the title, Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, was derived. MetaSynth’s Spectrum window (see Figure 14) has a formant filtering function (used in multiple compositions) that allows various sounds to be saved as formant filters. I treated human voice recordings with the filter, thus transforming human voices into speaking air conditioners. I also applied the method in reverse, passing air-conditioning sounds through

Figure 14 MetaSynth’s spectrum window. The bottom window is a spectral analysis of the air-conditioning sound sample visible in the top window. Note the dominance in the lower frequencies of the air-conditioning sound. Formant filters were then applied to the spectrum to create the sense of a speaking air conditioner.


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human voice formants, particularly the vowel sounds  – ‘ahh’, ‘eee’ and ‘ooo’. Both approaches were successfully utilized to create humming and chanting air conditioners, most evident in the composition aircon_cont. Furthermore, Spectrum’s shuffle function allowed regions to be split and randomly rearranged both horizontally and vertically, which created various discombobulates of typical everyday sounds. In particular, I used this function to apply surreal treatments to human voices, as can be heard in the composition titled Rhythm.

Ableton Live and AudioFinder A number of Ableton Live’s effects were used for the composition. Ableton Live’s ‘envelopes’ were used to treat sounds of a longer duration, particularly continuous air-conditioning recordings of up to ten minutes (see Figure 15). The corpus VST Sub-Filter Boost, which adds a low-frequency bias, and Ableton Live’s filters were used to create modulating effects and deep drones.

Figure 15 Ableton Live (composition). The top track is the sound of an air conditioner, and the bottom tracks are recorded vocals. Note the use of envelopes. In the bottom window are a number of VSTs, including the Corpus VST which adds a low-frequency bias.

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Ableton Live was also used to record vocals of various people. I made the decision to add human voices for two reasons. First, it was a play on the idea of revoicing an acoustic space. Secondly, I felt it would add some more engaging moments within the effectively machine-sound environment that I was creating. Vocals were added to a number of compositions, and (as discussed above) were also treated in MetaSynth’s spectrum window. AudioFinder was another invaluable tool. I was working with a huge number of files and so the batch convert function for operations such as normalization, fades, and renaming files was often used. This became particularly pertinent when producing files that could be effectively used by the SIAL Sound produced Max/MSP patch, WasP.

WasP The work required a delivery and playback system. SIAL Sound Studios had been working for a number of years on a multichannel composition and playback soundscape system called WasP20 (see Figure 16). The programme allows users to compose soundscape compositions and to playback these compositions over multi-speaker arrays via a computer. WasP provided the edited sound files with a strong sense of sonic gesture as afforded by its

Figure 16 WasP. WasP is a software environment created in Max/MSP. Revoicing the Striated Soundscape was the first project for which WasP was used in an outdoor environment. The research included a contribution to the development of WasP into a configuration commensurate with the installation requirements.


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primary function, Vector-Based Amplitude Panning (VBAP), which affords the spatialization of sounds across multiple speakers. Sounds could be made to move around the space either as a multi-speaker pan, or as the stochastic (randomized) emergence of fragments of sound within specific locations of the speaker array. Other functions afforded by WasP include pitch-shifting and multi-start times for individual files and group files. After I had edited the files to an acceptable standard, I used WasP to create the final compositions. WasP was also developed as a delivery system, which played back the eight compositions as a constantly rearranging ninety-minute loop for the fourmonth period of the installation.

The eight compositions Eight compositions were completed for the installation. Audio Samples 8–17 are stereo renderings of a 4-channel recording of the installation, recorded on 15 August 2012 from 10.00 to 11.30 am. Each audio sample has the corresponding title of the original compositions, which are related to specific attributes of the original on-site sounds and/or certain effects that were aimed for in the compositions. Figure 17 provides a view of the recording process, which included four Rode NT5 microphones arranged in a quad configuration, with one microphone pointing at each air conditioner, and a Sound Devices 744T portable audio recorder. The following audio samples can only provide a sense of the sonic presence due to their stereo rendering. Audio Sample 8: Normal conditions (37s) This is a daytime recording of the laneway soundscape when the installation was inactive, which was measured on a sound level decibel meter at an average of 63–67 dB. On average, the installation sounds added 3–6 dB to the background sound level. Audio Sample 9: aircon_on (1m 29s) This piece includes unprocessed edits of recordings of air conditioners switching on. The intention is to create the sensation of air conditioners using their switch function to produce rhythms. The sounds are panned, creating movement across the four speakers. The panning disturbs the typical stability of air-conditioning sounds by providing the typically static sound with a sense of movement. Of all the pieces, this is the most like the sounds of normal air conditioners.

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Figure 17 Recording the installation. Four Rode NT5 microphones are embedded in windsocks, connected to a Sound Devices 744T portable audio recorder, which can be seen to the right of the image. Each microphone is directed towards one of the four speakers. Audio Sample 10: aircon_cont (1m 28s) This piece is similar to aircon_on, except that this composition accesses the continuous ‘in-between’ sounds of air conditioners. The installation sounds move through the space, again subverting the typical stability of air-conditioning sounds. Human voices are added that were transformed using formant filters in MetaSynth; the intention is that these sounds emerge from the air conditioners as a voice. There is an interesting counterpoint here between the low-frequency sounds of the air conditioners and the subtle high-frequency calls of the sparrows. Audio Sample 11: aircon_filter (1m 36s) Using Ableton Live’s Filter VST, I created irregular frequency sweeps between the four speakers to create a sense of movement. The resulting washing sound is suggestive of ocean waves. I added the whistling and cooing sounds of improvisational singer Awomadah Fig. These vocal sounds are mixed with the filtered air-conditioning sounds to create a sense of an emerging entity, which reflects the intention of the work to revoice the urban soundscape. Note the crow call at 14s, which links nicely with the vocal sounds of the installation. Audio Sample 12: aircon_modulation (1m 30s) The following two audio samples are heavily granulated using MetaSynth, and are a reference to wind. I added a voice processed with the formant feature that was convolved


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with the air-conditioning sounds. The voice cries out ‘my city’, thus referencing the notion of an entity within the city, or the city itself speaking through the soundscape claiming the city as its own. Audio Sample 13: aircon_modulation with voice (20s) The low loudness level of the voice sample is due to complaints from adjacent businesses. Due to the sensitivity of human hearing in this frequency range, it became clear that the use of the human voice was problematic. I had to greatly reduce the volume of the voice to alleviate the concerns of complainants. Audio Sample 14: doors (1m 32s) This piece is based on the sounds of doors opening and closing. The intention is that real-time doors will start opening and closing in the laneway and mix into the piece. I heard this happen a number of times, but unfortunately did not manage to record an example. Pitch-shifting provides a variation to the typical sounds of closing doors. This also affected air-conditioning sounds in the recording, producing a moaning sound. Note the sound of a trolley being dragged on the ground at 50s; its timbre is similar to that of the installation sounds. Audio Sample 15: bins (1m 36s) With the exception of slight pitch-shifting on a couple of files, there are no effects on the bins as there was so much textural variety in the original files. The piece sounds choppy due to stochastic panning of very short files. I attempted to counter this by adding some longer sound files of moving bins to give listeners a reference point to the sound source. Overall, I think the choppiness provides a suitable counterbalance to the other pieces that use longer sound files. The piece has a rhythmic element due to recordings of rubbish bins being wheeled on the ground, and the banging of rubbish bins on skips. Audio Sample 16: rhythm (1m 36s) This piece moves away from the theme of site-specificity. I introduced many new sounds, particularly human voices and air-conditioning sounds that were transformed beyond recognition. I moved away from the constraints of the theme of trying to make the air conditioners sound like variations of air conditioners, and instead explored sounds that were unlike those typically made by air-conditioning. I also provided the sounds with dramatic movement, which caused them to chop through the space. Although introduced voices are not included in this sample, I added the surreal voice of children by using the scramble function with a high attack interpolation in the spectrum synth. I  added plenty of voices causing the laneway to talk to passers-by: ‘welcome to my alleyway, you are so beautiful, hello, do you like walking through my arteries, goodbye’. This was the piece that gained most attention, due to its extravagant sounds and gestures.

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Audio Sample 17: mic_movement (1m 32s) Originally I recorded these source sounds in Rainbow Alley by placing the microphone in my hand and dancing around the space. I also pushed the microphone into nooks and crannies in and around the air conditioners, collecting variations in reverberation, resonance and filtration. This file was placed directly into Ableton and then transformed using resonators and delays. This piece contains the natural rhythm of air-conditioning unit 5 (see Figure 11) that rattled in Rainbow Alley. I took advantage of this rattle with the  resonator, so it can be heard as a kind of fast-paced, high-pitched rhythm. The piece also contains the deep chanting voice of a male, and a repeating female voice with significant processing for each repetition.

Relocating the work A few weeks before installation, the City of Melbourne became concerned that Rainbow Alley was an inappropriate site for the installation. As it was not a transitional space, they were concerned that few people would encounter the work. Also the space was isolated, smelly and contained the occasional observable needle from drug users. For me this was not a problem; in fact, transforming a site considered unsavoury was intriguing to me. However, compromising with such functional imperatives (in this case the health and safety concerns of local council) is necessarily a part of publicly located creative practices, and a new site was found behind Little Latrobe Street, which can be seen in Figure 17. At first I was concerned about the new location due to the site-specificity of the work; however, the sounds had little trouble translating from Rainbow Alley to the new site, as it was also characterized by air-conditioning sounds, garbage bins and doors that opened onto the laneway. Whether or not the installation would have sounded more embedded in Rainbow Alley is impossible to tell, as the work will probably never be experienced in this space. However, I think moving the work was appropriate, from the perspective of public exposure, as there was certainly high traffic in this location. People walking between Melbourne Central Railway station and RMIT University utilized the laneway, and there were also a number of local workers I encountered at the site who came regularly to experience the work. On the downside, the recorded air conditioners in Rainbow Alley contained a different timbre to the air-conditioning stacks in the new location, which at times jeopardized the intention of interweaving


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and blending the sounds. As it happens, this became an important distinction between the addition approach and the transformation approach, but more on that in Chapter 4.

Project installation While working in Rainbow Alley, I was beginning to consider how I would deliver my edited sounds into the laneway’s existing sonic ecology. My initial thought was to conceal speakers within the space so that listeners would hear the sonic additions without necessarily seeing the speakers. During an on-site visit, the idea emerged of fixing speakers inside air-conditioning units. The idea was immediately compelling as it combined the visual and the aural intentions, insofar as both the air conditioners and the air-conditioning sounds would be experienced as belonging to the site, while in fact, they were both constructed off-site. Air-conditioning shells were sourced from scrap-metal yards and reassembled with a pop rivet gun and angle grinder. BOSE FreeSpace DS 100 SE Loudspeakers were chosen due to their environmental durability and excellent low-frequency response, which was essential considering the sound material consisted mostly of low frequencies. Figures 18–23 act as a photo story for the assembly of the air-conditioning cases.

Figure 18 Collecting air-conditioning casings. I visited half a dozen scrapyards while sourcing air-conditioning units. A surprisingly difficult task, as they are quickly molten for reuse.

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Figure 19 Reconditioning the air conditioners. Reworking the air conditioners was a cut-and-paste job using an angle grinder and pop rivet gun. The aim was to cover as much of the surface as possible with vents to maximize sound emission.

Figure 20 Air-conditioning unit with bracket. The final air-conditioning units were sprayed with paint, which concealed joints where parts had been pop-riveted together. The brackets were made of untreated metal, which quickly developed a rusted look, adding to the units’ ‘used’ look. The speaker plate was angled at 45 degrees. This added to the BOSE speakers’ 90-degree swivel capacity providing excellent propagation angles for an elevated install.


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Figure 21 Speaker mounting. Four BOSE FreeSpace DS 100SE speakers were mounted to the specially designed brackets. These speakers were selected as they have an excellent low-frequency response, which was essential considering the low-frequency sound material. Additionally, the speakers are specifically designed for outdoor use. Note the conduit, which housed the speaker wire. This was the only visual flaw in the work, as the conduit did not have a used look.

Figure 22 The final installation. The four air-conditioning casings conceal the speakers, which are networked with speaker wires running through conduit to a computer system. The computer system is situated behind a door at the bottom right of the picture.

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Figure 23 The computer system. The computer system running WasP included a Mac mini and a Motu traveller external soundcard. An Ampeg amplifier, from which figure-8 cable was connected to the speakers through conduit adhered to the laneway walls, drove the four speakers. Note the speaker wires coming through the wall in the top left of the picture.

Project findings The installation ran for four months. I spent considerable amounts of time on the installation site during this time, listening to the soundscape compositions merging with the site-specific urban sounds and talking with people about their experiences: some who approached me, and some whom I invited. As I spent extensive periods of time talking to people in the site, I was able to collect multiple visitor reflections.

Designing for night and day The different experiences of the installation at night and during the day were striking. The city is quieter at night, due to the reduction in traffic circulation,


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Figure 24 Air-conditioning stack on rooftop. Air-conditioning stacks can be seen on rooftops on either side of the laneway. They were switched on during the day, which greatly increased the background ambient noise levels. At the bottom, in the centre of the picture, one of the installed ready-made air-conditioning units can be seen.

air conditioner operation and human activity (in this part of the city). At night, the installation dominated the laneway’s soundscape. By day, when the background sound levels were more audible, the merging of installation sounds and urban sounds was more obvious. For example, on 11 November 2012 at 8.00 pm the average night-time background sound level (with a Brüel & Kjær Integrating Sound Level Meter – Type 2239A) measured over five minutes was 55 dB, in comparison to the daytime background sound level on 14 November 2012 at 3.00 pm, which measured at 63 dB when the airconditioning stacks on the top of the building were off, and 67 dB when the stacks were on (see Figure 24). This equates to a maximum difference of 12 dB (a doubling in perceived loudness), causing the experience of the installation to differ greatly between night and day. By night, the installation was a spectacle or performance: by day, a collaboration between the real and introduced in which new sounds were realized. A comparative example is provided in Audio Sample 18. I enjoyed the variation in listening experiences this provided; however, there is scope here for some addition of a delivery system that can be programmed to adjust its volume at different times so that the relative measurement between background city sounds and installation sounds remains constant. This may

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be desirable if a long-term sound installation that does not risk dominating the night soundscape is required. Audio Sample 18: Installation-comparative day-and-night recording (1m 25s) This audio sample demonstrates the changes to the installation as the city ambience reduces from day to night. The first forty-two seconds of this recording is aircon_cont by day. After a fade out, the file fades in as aircon_cont by night. Recording times are included in the paragraph above Figure  24. The file provides a sense of how the installation becomes a stand-alone installation by night, and a collaborative, or resynthesizing force by day.

Emergent graffiti In regard to the concept of affective sonic ecologies and expanding the affective potential of the urban crust, the graffiti that appeared in the installation site provides a real-world example of the meaning of these concepts. The City of Melbourne has a somewhat contradictory relationship with graffiti. A tag in the site, titled Peril Paris, is protected by the city (see Figure 25) and has remained in situ for many years, whereas any new graffiti that appears around the tag or on the opposite wall of the laneway is covered over with grey paint by the City of Melbourne. The graffiti on the opposite laneway wall (see Figures 26 and 27) regularly alternates between the City of Melbourne’s plain grey paint and the striking colours of graffiti art: a rhythm in which the central authorities of the city readdress the illegal act of graffiti, while graffiti artists are left to respond to the new canvas provided by the city. The policies of the City of Melbourne meant new graffiti forms were able to emerge during the installation period; fascinatingly, the emergent graffiti forms began to entrain21 with the installation sounds: a non-determined emergence of visual (graffiti) and sonic (installation) interrelation. Figure 26 shows the graffiti on the Eastern wall (opposite the wall pictured in Figure 25), which emerged towards the final period of the installation. Note the profile of the face in the centre panel: the ear is facing outwards. This represents a stark contrast to most graffiti, wherein faces face outward, as shown in Figure 27: the same wall a couple of months after the installation ended. Note also in Figure 26 the four concentric circles that overlap to create a central point, which is an apt visual representation of the interweaving sonic arrangement of the four speakers in the installation.22 At the left of


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Figure 25 Laneway graffiti – Peril Paris. The western wall of the laneway contains a tag by famous Melbourne graffiti artists, Peril and Paris. This graffiti is never removed by the City of Melbourne. However, around the tag can be seen the customary grey paint that covers graffiti deemed undesirable by the City of Melbourne. (Note: at the time of writing the ‘Paris’ tag was replaced by another tag). Photo courtesy of Carla Gottgens.

Figure 26 Sonic graffiti. This is the emergent graffiti towards the end of the installation period. Note to the left the Kandinsky-like splashes of colour. In the centre, a face is orientated with its ear outwards, and four concentric circles provide a visualization of the four sound sources of the installation. To the right a line on the ground is shown, which reminded me of the sonic gestures designed in the sounds.

Figure 26, note the splashes of abstract colours, reminiscent of Kandinsky’s painting Composition VIII, one of many paintings in which he captures music as visual form. Finally, at the right of Figure 26, a line is drawn from the wall on to the cobblestone paving of the site, in a suitable visual representation of the spatialized sounds within the installation site. It is rare, at least in my experience, to find graffiti on the ground.

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Figure 27 Post installation graffiti. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, the City of Melbourne covered the graffiti from Figure 23 in grey paint, which was soon covered by new graffiti. Note the return to the typical forward-facing faces. Even the profile of the skull (located in the exact same position as the face profile in Figure 26) has an emphasis on the eye, with a cone of vision protruding outwards.

At one stage, while at the installation site, an individual approached me asking if I was the artist. He was very positive about the work and also told me that he was a graffiti artist and that he could confirm that graffiti artists had indeed painted in response to the work. I was obviously both very happy and interested to hear this, but in my exuberance I did not ask for his email address, so unfortunately I cannot verify this encounter, except to confirm that it was genuine. Observing the unfolding story of the graffiti demonstrated for me the power of sonic ecologies to affect creative emergences, which in this case can be understood as both the graffiti and the creative responses of the graffiti artists. The result was the emergence of an increasingly diverse and exciting visual and sonic ecology. It hints at the new natures that might evolve from the urban crust, albeit in this case localized and temporary. A deeper investigation between soundscape design and urban graffiti art is certainly warranted, and I would encourage any interested reader to seek such collaborations (legally, of course).

Listener comments There is much to say regarding the response of visitors and local office workers to the installation. However, I will touch on two major themes that emerged during my time discussing the work with visitors and passers-by. The first is the disparity between the responses of those who visited the site and those in businesses adjacent to the site. On either side of the laneway are offices. Generally there were no complaints, although two offices were disturbed by the sounds of the installation, particularly the sounds of human voices. I spent


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considerable time with at least one of the residents identifying the sounds that were causing disturbances and tweaking those sounds so that they were of a lower volume, or by employing notch filtering so that I could remove frequencies to which the human ear is most sensitive, particularly the range of 1–4 kHz. This was a powerful advantage offered by using WasP as a composition and delivery system. Because it works exclusively from pools of files, individual files could be located (depending on the time of day the reportedly offensive sound was encountered), edited and then returned to the pool. This could only be deduced when I filled out a time sheet along with an official from the City of Melbourne, who was in the complainant’s office. I would record the start and end time of each composition, while the official would record complaint times. Matching the documents allowed me to isolate the offending files. However, the process became rather farcical when it became clear that the office inhabitants were complaining about noises (including human voices) that were not part of the installation. As the installation transforms site-specific sounds, the inhabitants were hearing non-installation sounds and complaining that these were the sounds of the installation causing them irritation. Perhaps it could be argued this is an unintended issue with sitespecific works that reference site-specific sounds.23 Visitors, by contrast, were unanimously positive about the work. I met the occasional office or hospitality worker who visited the site regularly to experience the sounds. There were a range of responses, but, in general, there was little doubt that imaginations were piqued and curiosity was invigorated. I also found this to be the case with people I invited to experience the installation with me. I have little doubt that there are many who would like to encounter installations like this on a regular basis throughout their city journeys. One person I encountered told me he came to the site regularly to just sit and listen, both alone and with friends, which brings me to my second point. It was at this stage that I began to consider the possibility that I had created an alternative version of a siteof-respite. Rather than subtracting noise, I had added noise – an approach that would not have been possible had I remained true to the acoustic ecology doctrine. It was at this stage that I began to imagine the possibility of installing a network of sound installations that both transformed noise, and acted as spaces of creative encounter. A final point: it is interesting to reflect that before the sonic rupture concept had been theorized (as discussed in

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Chapters 1 and 2), I had myself sensed, and witnessed, as part of my creative practice research process, imaginative emergences in those affected bodies (human and otherwise: consider the ‘emergent graffiti’ discussion above) that had encountered the installation. I now turned my attention to refining the discovered technique of noise transformation.

Transformation There was a significant bifurcation that produced a new project titled Intimate Footsteps (see below) that occurred before the project, Subterranean Voices. However, I have placed the projects in this order so that the journey from noise removal to noise meditation (represented by the arc in Figure 1) can be clearly understood. Revealed after the completion of all seven projects, this theme was, in fact, the primary driver of the entire research process; thus, the projects specifically involved in the theme’s unfolding are described successively. Both bifurcations (Intimate Footsteps and Mediumistic), as will be seen, reveal their importance upon integration into the sonic rupture model explained in Chapter 4. Subterranean Voices was an electroacoustic performance completed on 31 August and 1 September 2013 in the Trench, a large concrete cuboid situated beneath Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. I had been approached by the curators of the Liquid Architecture 14th National Festival of Sound Art, and invited to participate with a work. The theme of the festival was ‘The Sonic City’, which ‘explores how sound art and related art practices can respond to the protean and transformative nature of cities’.24 I joined the curators for a site visit at Federation Square, and was immediately drawn to the strange subterranean environment presented by the Trench. To get there, one had to walk through labyrinthine tunnels behind the facades of Federation Square, enter a lift that travels underground and then emerge in a space that is surreal: a cavernous concrete cuboid,25 upon either side of which are busy suburban railway platforms. One of the curators, Philip Samartzis, mentioned at the time that the original intention was to have Francisco Lopez26 create a work in the space, but after visiting the Trench it was deemed too noisy for a musical performance. The blast of a train horn filled the space just as he finished this


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comment as if to emphasize his point! I had been invited to participate due to my experience in working with industrial sounds, specifically the work Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. This presented the perfect opportunity to realize another project in ideal laboratory conditions, that further tested the site-specific methodology developed in Revoicing the Striated Soundscape.

Connecting with the Trench (Weeks 1–2) The immediate problem to contend with was time. I had only one month to realize the project. For the first two weeks of the project I could only obtain limited access to the Trench, because I needed a Warden’s27 certificate before I could be left in the Trench on my own; unfortunately, at the time I had to wait two weeks until the next opportunity to obtain the certificate. I was lucky in that I had a supportive Events Coordinator who gave me access to the space on two occasions in the first two weeks so that I could do some initial listening, recording and testing in the space (see Figure 28 and Audio Sample 19).

Listening to the Trench

Figure 28 Recording in the Trench. This image gives a sense of the unusual dimensions of the Trench. It has similar dimensions to a train platform, and is full of the sounds (but not sights) of trains, which arrive and depart on platforms on either side of the Trench’s walls. Recordings were taken with a Soundfield ST350 microphone and an Omni NT2 Rode microphone, both of which can be seen in this photograph.

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Audio Sample 19: Natural sounds of the Trench (2m 56s) An inventory of existing sonic conditions in the Trench: sound samples include, in order, a passing train, a horn blast, a PA announcement with stationary train, a train hiss, gurgling pipes with stationary train and a departing train. All of the sounds in this audio sample have been normalized and as such do not provide an accurate representation of the relative variation in loudness.

In the first two weeks of the project, I was only able to visit the Trench twice, each time for approximately three to four hours in the middle of the day. During these visits I came to perceive its sonic ecology as an interconnection between a discrete range of sounds, as listed in Figure 29. These included the wealth of sounds a train makes, the sounds emanating from the sewage and grease pipes that traverse the walls (see Figure 30) and various electrical buzzes. Other sounds included the automated lift that occasionally descended into the Trench (this was unsettling the first few times it happened – see Figure 33) and the occasional human voice from outside the adjoining walls. I could not think of a space more removed from traditional notions of nature. There was nothing living in this place, except for me. However, it had a unique sonic ecology: a complexity of sounds emerging from the automated entities within the Trench (pipes and electrical artefacts) and from the hidden objects on the other side of each wall. Like the laneway, in which speakers were concealed inside ready-made air conditioners, there was an acousmatic sensibility at play in the Trench: although one could not see the source of the sounds, it was clear what the identity of the sounds were. But as there was no way of knowing that one was actually sitting between two train platforms, the sounds afforded fantastic imaginative potential.

Testing in the Trench During testing, I played some of the sounds from Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. I was concerned with the limited amount of time that I was going to have, and so decided to repurpose existing sound material. Figure 31 is a photo taken during testing. I conducted these tests in the Trench on 7 August 2013, over approximately three to four hours. The test was simply a subjective listening exercise. I used a single speaker to play a variety of sounds,


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Figure 29 Listening in the Trench. The original notes, which were made while in the Trench, are in very poor condition. These field notes have been transcribed from those notes. This sequence of events is typical of the Trench’s soundscape, a mixture of silences and loud train horn blasts.

particularly the deepest human voice formant drones used in aircon_cont (Audio Sample 10), and some of the granulated air-conditioning sounds used in aircon_modulation (Audio Sample 12). I felt that they sounded reasonable in the space, particularly due to the Trench’s resonant and reverberant qualities, which worked well with the low-frequency sounds from Revoicing the Striated Soundscape28; however, I felt that the sounds did not belong to the

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Figure 30 The Trench’s pipes. Pipes line the inside of the wall, carrying all sorts of waste products, including grease waste and sewage. They released horridly overpowering smells at times, but produced a wonderful sound as liquids periodically moved from one end of the Trench to the other. The blue colouring comes from blue lighting gel with which I covered the fluorescent lights. The orange colour in the background is the glow from the adjacent Flinders Street platform 13. Photo courtesy of Ellen Dewar.

space. This is possibly not an opinion that would have been shared by someone who was experiencing the sounds for the first time, but from my perspective I felt I was not being true to my previously explored methodologies in which sounds specific to an ecology were used in the transformation of that ecology. An interesting discovery during this testing period was the similar sonic


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characteristics of a stationary train and an operational air conditioner. Listen to Audio Sample 20 for an example. Both artefacts emit a loud, low-frequency hum, meaning that certain sound design techniques employed in Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, particularly in relation to the tools offered by MetaSynth, could now be employed in Subterranean Voices. Audio Sample 20: Ambient train hums (1m 35s) The hums of the stationary train reminded me of the air conditioners of the city’s laneways. I responded by transforming the hums with various ambiences designed in MetaSynth, based on the original recordings of train hums in the Trench.

Besides this interesting comparative discovery, I concluded during these tests that I was going to have to create something specific for the space. I saw this as an opportunity to apply the methodology that had developed in my previous works: listening to, recording, editing and categorizing sounds, then transforming sounds and reintroducing them into the site. This is a method that had begun to emerge in Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, which I was now about to apply in full.29

Figure 31 Testing in the Trench. I tested repurposed sounds from previous works, especially Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. The low-frequency sounds worked in the resonant space of the Trench, but I felt they did not belong there, and so proceeded to create a work based on the site-specific sounds of the Trench.

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Preparing the Trench (Weeks 3–4) During weeks three and four, I spent up to twelve hours a day in the Trench. I would pack my lunch in the morning, put my warm coat and scarf in my bag and spend the day immersed in this strange environment (I felt like a miner, descending by morning and ascending by night covered in soot). I was able to set up the correct speaker configuration and design the sounds simultaneously. The benefit of doing this was that I could design the sounds specifically for the space without being concerned about them translating from a studio environment. Also, it gave me the chance to become a ‘trench dweller’. By spending so much time in the environment I really came to understand its particularities and idiosyncrasies. Thus I was able to interrelate with, and create for, the Trench while my own creative interrogations were being continuously affected by the Trench’s sonic ecology. It is this interrelationship between practitioner and space that precedes the creation of a sound installation, which is crucial for diversifying urban ecologies.

Sound design As with my previous projects, I had a collection of categorized sound recordings as shown in Figure 32. I had collected recordings of the space in my initial visits to the Trench, which I edited using the region manager in the digital audio workstation Reaper.

Figure 32 Sound types for Subterranean Voices. Most sounds were based on the range of available train sounds, the sounds of gurgling pipes and the buzzes of electrical equipment. Horneight and SpatialHorn refer to files that had been rendered with WasP for multi-speaker playback.


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I proceeded to edit these sounds using the same range of software used for Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. I decided to use WasP for the creation of spatialized sound files for both train horns and passing trains; however, as WasP is not a live interactive performance tool, I had to design the appropriate spatialization in WasP and then record the four or eight outputs simultaneously between two soundcards, from one Mac laptop to another. This was timeconsuming, but well worth the effort. I ended up with four or eight files for each spatialized sound that, when lined up correctly and played in the session window of Ableton Live, produced varying spatial gestures through the speaker array. In some ways it was a more liberating way to employ WasP’s features, as I could now place these groups of files in any order I wished and play them from any point of time without having to reprogram. MetaSynth was also used heavily, particularly the ‘Grain’, ‘Stretch’, ‘Pitch & Time’ and ‘Harmonics’ functions in the Effect window. I made use of Ableton Live’s resonators and filters. For certain sounds, such as ‘buzzing’, I added bandwidth filters with very high Q-values to match frequency amplification with the equivalent resonant frequencies of the Trench. Resonant frequencies were calculated in earlier tests by a spectrum analysis of the reverberant tail of a train horn blast. Resonant frequencies were measured at 120, 540, 1,630 and 2,200 Hz.30 Filters were used to occasionally enhance these frequencies by using a MIDI foot controller. The aim was to create extended resonances when transitioning into moments of silence.

Delivery system and speaker configuration I decided upon Ableton Live as a delivery system for two reasons: I am knowledgeable about the programme, and find its MIDI interface to be both intuitive and flexible. I ended up with forty-four tracks in the session view, which were output to eight speakers arranged around the outer edges of the site. The forty-four tracks were controlled with two MIDI controllers – a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI foot controller and a Behringer BCF2000 MIDI hand controller (see Figure 34). The eight speakers included four self-powered Behringer Truths and four BOSE FreeSpace DS 100 SE Loudspeakers, the same ones used for Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, which were powered by a custom-made 4-channel amplifier provided by SIAL Sound Studios. I also

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used the custom-made speaker brackets, which allowed me to position the BOSE speakers most effectively. I had two assistants who joined me. Their help was invaluable as, due to the large dimensions of the Trench, it would have been time-consuming to move the speakers around. I was able to sit at a central position (see Figure 36), listen to the introduced sounds and ask them to relocate speakers around the Trench until I had created what I considered to be the ideal speaker configuration to create the most affective listening environment. Most speakers were on the ground and angled upwards in an effort to create a more diffusive environment. Two speakers were placed against specific waste pipes that made the loudest sounds, and one speaker was placed on a mezzanine-type landing, from which transformed announcement sounds were played, recreating similar conditions to a train platform’s elevated PA speaker system (see Figure 33).

Figure 33 Speaker positioning in the Trench. The left image shows the single BOSE speaker on the mezzanine. Announcement sounds were played from this position to recreate the sense of elevation found on train platform PA system speakers. The BOSE speaker in the right image is attached to one of the brackets used for Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. Two speakers were situated like this, directly beneath the loudest points of the pipes where liquid flowed through, so as to best take advantage of transformations of this sound. Photo courtesy of Ellen Dewar.


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Figure 34 The performance setup. I used a Mac laptop running Ableton Live, a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI foot controller situated beneath the table and a Behringer BCF2000 MIDI hand controller situated to the left of the computer from which I controlled volume, triggering and other effects.

Live spatial sound design sessions Once I had designed my sounds I proceeded to play with them in situ. Audio Samples 21–24 are edits from two one-hour live spatial sound design sessions, which I completed a few days before the performance. In these sessions, I was interacting with the sounds of the Trench using a palette of fully edited sounds loaded into an Ableton Live session window, as seen in Figure 35. As the real sounds reached my ears I would respond by releasing their synthesized equivalents into the environment, thus transforming the Trench’s affective ecology into altered experiences of the familiar. These sessions were important, as they not only allowed me to prepare for the performance, but also contributed to my own merging with the Trench: I became part of the ecology of the Trench, which was affecting me, just as I was affecting it (see ‘process-of-musicality’, Chapter 1). During these sessions, I found playing with the train horns to be particularly interesting. I used the pitch-shifting and stretching functions in MetaSynth, and then using WasP I rendered multiple audio files of train horns to be panned across four or eight speakers. Audio Samples 21–24 are fragments from these sessions, and in their quality demonstrate a marked improvement

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Figure 35 The Ableton Live session. Forty-four tracks were loaded with sounds edited from sound recordings in the Trench. From left to right (colour coded), there are fourand eight-channel spatialized train horns, ambient stationary trains, water, buzzes, four-channel spatialized passing trains, PA recorded melodies, PA announcements and a variety of eight-channel spatialized sounds including train hisses and electronic treatments.

in the technique of blending real and synthesized sounds that was developed during the Revoicing the Striated Soundscape project; in the Revoicing recordings, it was still possible to distinguish between real and installed air conditioners (although the change in site was largely responsible for this). Audio Samples 21–24 were recorded on a pair of Rode NT5s pointing to either end of the Trench. Audio Sample 21 is an example of the electrical buzz and its edited equivalent, Audio Sample 22 is the transformation of water sounds using granular synthesis techniques and Audio Sample 23 is a train sequence, in which the ear’s inability to distinguish a real train and a virtual train is apparent. A highlight during the live spatial sound design sessions was an impromptu improvisation session with a train driver, which can be heard in Audio Sample 24. I noted that train drivers only ever use their train horn a maximum of two times; however, on this occasion the train driver blasted his train horn three times, and I was able to respond each time. It was an exhilarating moment – not just because of the loudness of the train horn, but because I was directly intervening in the social ordering of the everyday.


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Audio Sample 21: Buzz design (27s) A periodic electrical buzz would occur in the space. I recorded it and edited its sound to give it a subtle shift in texture. This file is quiet, which is a true representation of the softer sonic moments offered by the Trench. Audio Sample 22: Water design (40s) Liquid would gush through the pipes from one end of the Trench to the other; I used granular synthesis to give the water alternative textures. In the background are the real and synthesized hums of a stationary train. Audio Sample 23: Train sequence (42s) This is a mixture of a real and synthesized train, as well as real and synthesized hisses. They are difficult to tell apart. Also heard in this file are some of the more heavily synthesized electroacoustic sounds I was exploring for the performance. Audio Sample 24: Train driver jam (1m 56s) A train driver responds to my sounds with three horn blasts. Other introduced sounds include reworkings of a PA announcement, PA introduction signal and pre-recorded PA voice.

Originally, the live spatial sound design sessions were only meant to be tenminute recordings, but I got so inside the experience that an hour went by rapidly. It was a meditative experience that undoubtedly brought me closer to the Trench, and added to the quality of the performances, as I had spent so much time listening and playing with the space. I felt like a link in the communication between the sounds of the Trench and their edited equivalents, which resided inside my laptop. As a meditative experience (perhaps an equivalent of Pauline Oliveros’ deep listening experience),31 I let go of any sense of ownership over the synthesized sounds and was guided by the sounds of the Trench itself. I  felt as if a pantheistic quality was being evoked  – the Voice of the Trench – that informed my performative responses,32 an unexpected relationship considering the entirely constructed environment of the Trench. And one that brought me to the conclusion that the ‘spirit of the land’ is unquenchable.

Performing subterranean voices Each performance lasted for twenty minutes, with six consecutive performances on two consecutive days, on Saturday, 31 August and Sunday,

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Figure 36 Audience seating positions. I placed ten chairs around the Trench based on what I thought were the ideal listening positions. Audience members entered via the lift, which can be seen towards the back of the photo. The transformed stationary train hums were playing as people entered.

1 September 2013, between 1.00 and 4.00 pm. Approximately, ten to twenty audience members per performance were permitted into the site. They were accompanied into the lift by a volunteer, and then encouraged to take one of the seats that I had distributed throughout the site based on what I thought were the ideal listening positions (see Figure 36). As audience members entered the space, they heard the transformed hum of stationary trains, and once the audience was seated I proceeded to perform the composition. From live spatial sound design to composition The reason I decided upon a composition rather that an exclusively interactive piece (similar to the live spatial sound design sessions) was due to a discovery made a week before the performance: the trains did not run on either of the platforms adjacent to the Trench on Saturdays or Sundays. I had created a work based entirely on responding to the dramatic shifts in dynamics afforded by the Trench’s weekday sonic ecology, but of course I now realized that I would be interacting with a much quieter sonic ecology. This was not problematic in itself, as interacting with the quiet aspects of the space was intriguing. The problem was that I had designed much of the edited sound to respond specifically to the loud, mid-week, site-specific sounds. I had to


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reconceive my approach to the performance. I came to think of the space as a type of vessel, within which I could take the listeners on a journey, just as the trains on either side delivered people from one place to another. The sonic space was suddenly inverted. I would bring the outside sounds to the inside and recreate the week, as an inverted quotidian journey (six journeys a day, in fact): a weekend ride for the imaginary commuter. I think it was my burgeoning relationship with the space that enabled me to conceive this new creative direction, which is again testimony to the importance of developing a relationship with space before designing a sound work for its sonic transformation. The performance The composition comprised eight parts, as can be seen in Figure 37. As the audience entered and took their seats, a train hum was active. Once the audience was settled, a sequence was activated, which featured a PA announcement/ melody followed by the sound of an arriving train, finally terminating in silence. A two- to three-minute section followed in which water and buzz

Figure 37 Composition structure (notes). The composition comprised eight parts, including two periods of silence. It began with a hum as the audience was settled, which was followed by a sequence of train sounds, then silence. Then followed a more intensive series of trains; then again silence. After, there was a build-up to an intensive sonic experience featuring an ascending train, and a dissipation to an extended period of quiet interaction with the Trench, which (in that moment) was reflective of my preperformance live spatial sound design interactions.

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sounds interact with the Trench’s soundscape; the section transformed into an extended train sequence, including spatialized trains and train horns. This ended in silence before the beginning of a dramatic train take-off sequence, in which multiple train sounds were combined, with pitch-shifting applied to create a sense of an ascending train (as related to the idea of the audience being situated in a transportation vessel). This was followed by an active phase of spatialized electronic sounds, train hisses and train horns, which reduced in volume until the final section, which was a subtle play between real and synthesized sounds. Audio Samples 25–31 present fragments of the performance in the same order as described in the preceding sentences. Due to the significant variations between loud and quiet moments in the performance, the volume levels of the audio samples have been adjusted to ensure that the quieter moments are clearly heard; however, I have attempted to maintain their relative volume levels, as much as possible, so as to approximate the original listening experience.33 Figure 38 is a photo of me performing Subterranean Voices (before the audience had entered). Audio Sample 25: Train hum as audience settles (32s) Note the squeaking sound of chairs. The train hum is synthesized; there is no real train hum operative. This was one of the consequences of performing on a day when no trains were present – I had to create a sense of the presence of trains. Audio Sample 26: Initial train sequence (44s) The initial train sequence is a PA melody, PA announcement, a spatialized train approaching and a spatialized train horn. A ‘hole’ in the train horn is noticeable here. Unfortunately, at this point two channels of an amplifier, due to an internal fault, produced vastly reduced volumes, causing a noticeable gap in spatialized sound paths. Audio Sample 27: Silence to altered buzz and water (1m 8s) Silence became the most evocative feature of the performance, particularly in relation to louder sounds such as Audio Sample 29 and as transition points between performative moments. The synthesized sounds of buzzes and water flows are slowly introduced towards the end of this sample. Audio Sample 28: Extended train sequence (32s) Trains arrive from multiple directions, and surreal melody sounds and long train horns build towards the crescendo as heard in Audio Sample 29. The clicking sound is the automated function of my Behringer hand controller, the faders resetting as I move between grouped tracks in Ableton Live.


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Audio Sample 29: Train take-off (1m 2s) An edited segment of the crescendo. This is the sound of a single train approaching the platform, which has been looped in MetaSynth and pitch-shifted so that the intensity slowly rises. The Trench is treated as a transportation vessel, which is now taking off for its ‘imaginary’ weekend commute. The 39s mark is the point of arrival. Audio Sample 30: Electronic and spatial play (28s) After the take-off, there is an extended section of electronic sounds (suggestive of a surreal ‘other’ place) and spatialized train hisses and train horns. Note the rapid introduction of sounds and their dramatic spatialization. Audio Sample 31: Quiet merging of real and synthesized sounds (38s) After twelve performances, this was always the section I enjoyed the most. After the intensity of the train take-off, it was an opportunity for the listener (including me) to enter a meditative state, immersed between a world of real and synthesized sounds. Indeed, most audiences would linger after the composition had ended, engaged in a deep listening to the real sounds of the Trench. Note the crossing signals, passing trains and, at 22s, the distant tone: the real and the synthesized disappear and are replaced by a transformed sonic ecology.

Figure 38 Performing in the Trench. The performance was a combination of listening, triggering sounds and following the compositional structure, which can be seen in the notebook at the bottom of the image. By the end of the 12 iterations, I was becoming more adept at connecting with the soft train station sounds towards the end of the composition, which created a dreamy atmosphere for the audience. The blue lighting was caused by blue lighting gel I had placed over the fluorescent lights. I chose blue (including my jacket) as the whole space had a cold and steely presence, which I wanted to emphasize.

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Project findings After each performance of Subterranean Voices, I observed that the audience would sink into a long meditative silence that lasted well after the performance had ended (I asked the Liquid Architecture volunteers to allow the audience to linger as long as they wished). These meditative affects, I believe, were afforded by the ambiguous mixture of real and synthesized sound, ensuring perceptions – when attempting to locate the source of reality – were suspended in a constant state of unknowing. To me, this is analogous to a dreamlike state in which the real and the imaginary combine. A practical compositional decision aided this process. Each performance included a powerful climax of synthesized train sounds that enveloped the audience, followed by a rapid transformation into dramatically reduced dynamics and interwoven real/synthesized sounds. The acoustic horizon instantly spread outwards, such that the spatial difference of near and far (as well as the perceptible difference between real and imaginary) collapsed into a single amorphous listening space. As the composer and performer of the piece, it is interesting to note that as exciting as it was to perform the climax, after approximately eight performances, this moment became more process-oriented than a passionately delivered and exuberant gesture. However, the act of weaving quiet, synthesized sounds with the distant sounds of Finders Street Station was endlessly fascinating, peaceful and evocative – forming an almost trance-like experience. This moment of the composition was closer to the experience of the live spatial sound design sessions, and I think it points the way towards permanently placed installations that produce transformative sonic spaces on an ongoing basis. I believe that in these moments, I was sharing a similar listening state to the audience. Most fascinating is that the listeners (and I include myself as performer here) maintained this listening state for several minutes after the synthesized sounds had been removed. The affective atmosphere lingered well after the sound effects had ceased. There are some interesting connections to be made here with Silencing Urban Exhalations. Subtracting noise re-emerges in Subterranean Voices as an important approach to transforming sonic ecologies. Except, in this case, it is the rapid change from loudness to quietness, and then the complete removal of synthesized sounds (rather than real sounds, as occurred in Silencing Urban Exhalations) that afforded the work’s profundity. I think that


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this was the most poignant moment of the performance, when all introduced sounds were subtracted and the audience was left with a heightened perception of the existent sonic ecology. Audience reaction to the work was positive. Typical feedback was that the experience was relaxing, including an oft-heard reflection that urban sounds, typically defined as noisy, in this instance, were able to create relaxing, even meditative experiences. Some listeners also appreciated the fantastical and mythological nature of the work, which afforded them imaginative experiences; Michael Shirrefs – a Features Producer at Radio National who interviewed me in the Trench,34 upon hearing a recording of the work, stated: ‘It’s simply wonderful! It’s a steam punk fantasy … so filmic and other-worldly  … and very musical.’35 Shirref ’s comments reminded me of Henry David Thoreau’s reflections in his book Walden on the mythic cry of locomotives through the woodlands. Upon reflection, I believe what I discovered in the Trench was a dreamlike atmosphere caused by the combining of the real and the synthesized. And it is this dreamlike atmosphere from which meditative listening states emerge. This is not to suggest that the exclusive outcome of noise transformation should be the creation of meditative affects, but simply that this is the affective environment that emerged in Subterranean Voices. As will be discussed in Chapter 4, there are many possible affects that can be achieved through noise transformation.

Meditation Before turning to the bifurcations, I would like to end with the final creative practice research project Noise Meditations36 (there was another bifurcation between Subterranean Voices and Noise Meditations that I will discuss below, titled Mediumistic), which finalizes the design research journey in which urban noise was reimagined as a potential source of meditation rather than a source of unambiguous irritation. Noise Meditations was part of Place, a collection of site-specific inspired works curated by Philip Samartzis for the ‘Now Hear This’ sound exhibition, itself part of Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, which ran from November 2013 to March 2014. The work

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was composed specifically for headphones, and was initially designed to emphasize the ubiquity and homogeneity of low-frequency sounds (the striated soundscape) that transverse the urban, which is particularly evident in the sounds of the air conditioners and stationary trains used for the composition. The name Noise Meditations came to me during its composition. I was simultaneously reflecting on my experiences in the Trench and the various comments I had received (in conversation, overheard or relayed) from audience members, which ranged from expressions of relaxation, to surprise that urban sounds could create a meditative effect. It is the meditative potential inherent in urban noise that enabled me to discover the elusive site-of-respite for which I had so diligently searched during the Sites-of-Respite project. There is, of course, an important difference between Revoicing the Striated Soundscape and Subterranean Voices. The silent weekend schedule at the Trench contributed significantly to the audience’s meditative listening experiences. But even in the laneway, where silence was unobtainable, I propose that the imaginative, even unnerving, experiences of the air conditioners produced an alternative site-of-respite, not as an escape from urban noise, but certainly from the everyday sonic homogeneity of urban noise. Noise Meditations reworked the synthesized sounds of Revoicing the Striated Soundscape and Subterranean Voices, which allowed me to engage with these sounds without the pressures of realizing works in a public space. Thus, I was able to engage with the sounds in a more relaxed and playful manner. This process was critical for me in discovering the title of the work, which simultaneously came to define a conclusive point in the recursive process of the creative practice research process: project work that had begun with the intent to remove urban noise was ending with the discovery of the meditative potential inherent to urban sounds.

Bifurcation 137: Passion Intimate Footsteps was part of the Design Research Institute’s 2013 Convergence exhibition at the RMIT University Design Hub. It was conceived as a trial run for a public sound installation and was exhibited on 4 and 5 May


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2013. An interactive chair was located in the centre of a narrow walkway on the ground floor of the Design Hub. The chair was surrounded by a cube configuration of eight speakers and two parallel lines of speakers, three for each line, on either side of the chair. When a person sat on the chair, two pairs of footsteps, one from either direction, were heard to walk towards the chair. Once those footsteps ‘reached’ the chair, the listener had the option of triggering intimate sounds, which emanated from the cube configuration. The capacity of the listener to produce intimate sounds by prodding and squeezing the chair led to the chair’s euphemism ‘The Passion Machine’. The work was a collaborative effort. I realized that to achieve what I wanted, I required practitioners with technical expertise that I did not have. Although my intention was for the project to be realized in a public space (similarly to the previous projects), I felt that a testing phase in an indoor environment would attenuate the complexities of working in public space, allowing me to concentrate on developing the required technology to the point where my ambitions could be realized. I successfully applied for funding to finance my collaborators. I used this funding to contract Max programming and sonic interaction design consultant Steve Adams,38 while Frank Feltham, an industrial designer completing his PhD on human movement and technology, added the interaction element.

Installation The installation included a Mac laptop (running the software program Max/ MSP), which was connected to two Motu soundcards and a Creamware A16 Ultra AD/DA Converter that together formed a composite device. The computer system was networked to twenty speakers, sixteen JBLs and four Tannoys (simply because I had run out of JBLs). The four speakers forming the upper quad of the cube were placed inside fishing nets and suspended from two tripods. See Figure 39 for the final set-up. The two sets of parallel speakers stretching to either end of the ramp provided the pathways for the computer-generated footsteps to walk; the lower quad surrounding the chair provided the termination point for the footsteps, after which the footsteps became scuffing sounds; and the upper quad consisted of the sounds of intimacy of two imaginary beings

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Figure 39 Intimate Footsteps installation. Four speakers playing sounds of intimacy are suspended from the tripods. The lower quad plays the scuffing sounds after the arrival of the virtual pair of footsteps, one from either end of the ramp. The speakers can be seen to stretch to the end of the ramp, forming a path for the footsteps to trace. In the background is a short video loop of the proposed site, Howey Place. The chair is wired up and connected to Max/MSP, on the computer system, which is located behind the pink chair.

who embraced each other from either side of the chair-bound participant. In Figure 39, the chair is oriented to face the video image at the end of the ramp (the image was of the proposed public location for the installation, after its trial run); however, it was quickly discovered that rotating the chair 90 degrees (see Figure 41) created a stronger sonic image as the ears were pointed towards the footstep paths. Most people who tried the installation were of the opinion that the footsteps were interesting on the first listen but after this the illusion was quickly broken. The sounds of passion, however, elicited endless joy and curiosity, as suggested by the expressions of participants seen in Figure 40. Watching the smiles and occasional uncomfortable squirms of the participants was a treat.


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Figure 40 The installation at work. The sounds of passion, and their interactive capacity, provided great enjoyment for listeners. There were two triggers at the end of the arms of the chair: tapping triggered the sounds of kisses, while squeezing triggered moaning, kissing and hugging sounds and spoken sweet-nothings. Participant involvement in the installation revealed the inadvertent creation of a ‘Passion Machine’.

A number of footstep sounds created by foley artists were selected for the project.39 This included two variables – shoe type and surface type. Hard soles on floorboards sounded the most convincing. However, leaves, puddles, ice and snow surfaces (regardless of the shoe type) had a homogenous texture in the space, in the sense that they all sounded like a gravel surface. I believe their presence was less convincing as the sounds were so out of context with the hard surfaces of the Design Hub, made of plaster, metal and concrete. High heels, boots and sneakers on concrete had a more convincing presence, and at times seemed to merge with real footsteps in the space. The chair contained two trigger points. The first was located in the seat of the chair, which controlled the starting and stopping of the footsteps. The second pair of trigger points were located at the ends of the arms of the chair, which were controlled by the hands. These trigger points could either be tapped with fingers to produce discrete kissing sounds, or squeezed with the palms, to produce kissing, moaning and spoken sweet-nothings, which increased in volume and intensity depending on the applied pressure. A recording of a triggered sequence can be heard in Audio Sample 32. The sample was recorded with a Pro-Sound Neumann KU 100 Binaural Dummy Head Microphone System into a Sound Devices 722 portable audio recorder, as shown in Figure  41. In this recording, all possible sequences have been recorded, though not all

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Figure 41 Recording the installation. A binaural head was used to create a recording of the installation. I sat on the chair and triggered a sequence of footsteps and passion sounds which can be heard in Audio Sample 32.

possible variations of sounds, which were randomly selected in the software program Max/MSP. Audio Sample 32: A triggered sequence from Intimate Footsteps (2m 34s) All possible configurations of sounds are heard in this file. At one minute and ten seconds, a merging of installation footsteps and real footsteps can be heard. Note the air-conditioning sounds in the background, a reminder of the ubiquity of the striated soundscape.

Project findings Intimate Footsteps stands out from the other projects as not being realized in an outdoor public space; however, it remains relevant as an urban soundscape design project due to the transformation of space that occurred in the Design Hub. In particular was the projects’ capacity to respond to site-specific


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sounds, especially the clacking of high heels when merging with similar footstep sounds generated by the installation, and the moments of intimacy it afforded in a building that is somewhat austere in its material forms of glass, steel and concrete. Furthermore, the installation’s location on the lower-level ramp meant it was situated in a typically transitory space that was now a space in which people lingered and gained meaningful sonic experiences. Generally the response was one of initial surprise at the emergence of footsteps, and mirth at the opportunity to extract sounds of pleasure from the chair. Whereas the illusionary effect of approaching footsteps was quickly dispelled; the capacity to control sounds of intimacy was of endless fascination. I suspect this is due to the level of control users had over the intimate sounds. For some, the installation became a type of musical instrument. The strongest realization emerging from the installation was its capacity to create an in-between space of intimate encounter between two imaginary people. The project’s success presents the possibility of installing objects of passion throughout urban spaces, affording the listener an immersion in the sounds of passion that intensify as the gestures of the listener’s hands intensify. I imagine a citywide installation of passion machines that provide respite from the cold detachment of alienated streetscapes, through the production of localized spaces of passion.

Bifurcation 2: Disclosure The project Mediumistic is the second bifurcation. Strictly speaking it sits outside of the creative practice research process as at the time I did not consider it to be part of my research. However, it joins with the arc in Figure 1, as a consequence of its inclusion in the post-project reflective process. Eventually, this project revealed an alternative soundscape design approach: Disclosure. The project Mediumistic ran from 1 May to 29 June 2014, from 8.00 am to 11.00 pm, seven days a week, at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. The convent cared for women in need from 1863 to 1975. It has since been converted into an artist-run facility, after a seven-year campaign between 1997 and 2004 to protect the site from developers.40 Mediumistic was conceived and led by artist Kasia Lynch,41 in response to an uncanny experience she had

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while walking through the convent buildings, in which she reported a sense of a presence walking beside her. This precipitated a proposal by Lynch to the convent committee for an artwork that would explore the history of the convent from the perspective of spirit mediums. I was invited by Lynch to collaborate as the sound recordist and sound designer for the project, which required me to quietly accompany the mediums as they walked with Lynch through the convent conveying their experiences. The recordings were then used to produce studio-based sound works.

Working with mediums A striking feature of David Toop’s book Sinister Resonance, which analyses a vast array of historical artworks from a sonic perspective, is his declaration in the introduction ‘I don’t believe in ghosts’ (Toop 2010: VIII). I do not understand why Toop felt the need to make this declaration considering there is no indication within his book that he actually believes in ghosts. I suspect it is indicative of the caution one feels when approaching the topic of the paranormal that someone of Toop’s intellectual and creative stature feels compelled to distance himself from the perception that he may hold such beliefs. Having said this, I also feel compelled to declare that I do not believe in ghosts as well, lest those readers of a sceptical persuasion declare the work unworthy! However, I do think that space, particularly sonic space, contains the potential to affect creative responses in the listener. The closest Toop comes to the suggestion of non-human presences is that ‘sound in its unpredictable states of flux and disproportionate affect is an invisible finger reaching out from an extra-human world’ (Ibid: 169). This extra-human world, to the spirit mediums involved in this project, is a world inhabited by ghosts. The spirit mediums I encountered certainly did believe in ghosts and spent considerable time describing the ghosts they were claiming to see, hear and feel. In certain cases, they took on the personalities of spirits and spoke with voices varying from dominating mother superiors to timid young Irish nuns. Regardless of the accuracy of their readings (and I certainly do not mean to suggest that the spirit mediums were not being truthful), the spirit mediums provided an opportunity to investigate space via unusual means. I came to see the mediums as disclosing stories that were otherwise unattainable.


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Figure 42 Recording the Mediums. I followed the spirit mediums with a Rode NT2 shotgun microphone and handheld Zoom H6 field recorder. The challenge was to minimize disruption to the mediums, while simultaneously capturing all of their comments.

I developed my own interpretation of the actions of spirit mediums while recording and editing their readings (see Figure 42). All spaces have atmospheres, and I am confident that the vast majority of people would claim that they can ‘feel’ certain spaces as indicated by statements such as ‘this place feels positive’ or ‘this place feels uncomfortable’. I consider the possibility that atmospheres may contain historical energetic traces, a type of non-conscious memory that is actualized (thus, made tangible) by the emotive subject. That mediums interpret these traces as real ghostly presences is, at the very least, an example of the extraordinary imaginative powers that human beings are capable of when immersed in affective atmospheres. I am happy to entertain the possibility that the mediums are able to feel something, which they articulate through narrative.

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My interpretation of the work shifted somewhat upon discovering the 2001–5 work by American artists Anne Walsh and Chris Kubick entitled Art After Death. Walsh and Kubick interviewed dead artists, through spirit mediums, in front of each dead artist’s artworks. In a sense they were providing a radical approach to art history.42 The experience that Lynch and I had with Mediumistic resonates with some of Walsh and Kubick’s comments regarding Art After Death. In an online interview Chris Kubick states, ‘one of the fascinating things about the project is how consistent the mediums have all been, with each other and with the historical record. The details are all there, with totally uncanny stuff.’ 43 This, I leave as conjecture. As stated, the truth of such encounters is irrelevant to the argument of this book. What is of interest is that the project revealed the final urban soundscape design approach, disclosure.

Installation Mediumistic comprised eight listening stations in which the user would simultaneously encounter a sculpture and a sound work, with each listening station positioned according to the more provocative, interesting or entertaining accounts as provided by the mediums during our recording sessions. Lynch situated a sculpture in each location, which referenced specific accounts provided by the mediums. The recordings were accessed by smartphone via a QR code, which was included in a series of explanatory plaques that were mounted nearby each sculpture. The QR codes enabled a subtle embedding of the sound files in the site that in tandem with the sculptures afforded audiovisual accentuations of the mediums’ narratives. The sound works were composed of the mediums’ stories, and the site-specific sounds that had been recorded during the readings including creaking wooden stairs, heavy doors opening and closing, and the varying echoes of the hallways. Although Mediumistic was initially a side project that occurred towards the end of the creative practice research process, it became clear to me that the main theme of my research had strongly influenced my work in this project. I was providing the listener with an opportunity to reimagine the existing atmospheres of the convent by merging the convent’s everyday sounds with their recorded


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equivalents, as heard through headphones. This approach was similar to what had been achieved in the project Subterranean Voices, insofar as the merging of the real and the synthesized produced an ambiguous sonic environment in which imaginative states emerged. This afforded a heightened awareness of the convent sounds, which augmented the uncanny experiences relayed by the mediums. Overall, visitors approached the work with curiosity and enjoyment. A few felt it necessary to make the point that they did not believe what was being said; however, the same people reported that the work did provide them with a unique way to engage with the spaces of the convent.

Towards a model for urban soundscape design It is my hope that Chapter 3 provides the reader with a detailed case study of the mechanics of a creative (sonic) practice research process. The making of these works is an unfolding creative process in constant conversation with the creative practitioner’s reflections. The creative practice research process itself is constantly producing knowledge in multiple ways, including: 1. One form of knowledge production is the movement from one project to another as a consequence of reflection; in this instance, reflection produces knowledge that informs the proceeding project work. 2. Another form of knowledge is embedded within each project, as detailed in the making descriptions of each installation. This includes the tools used for the making, the practical scenarios occurring when dealing with members of the public or bureaucratic agencies, and finally, the images and audio samples chosen to (re)present the making processes. 3. Finally, it is possible for the creative practice researcher to take the process of knowledge production a step further, by reflecting on the totality of the project work. At this stage, the practitioner is producing knowledge that moves beyond the mechanics of the making process. In the present study, five urban soundscape design approaches – subtraction, addition, transformation, passion and disclosure – emerged as part of a

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reflective process that followed the completion of the projects (see Figure 1). It should be noted that these approaches always existed as potential within the making process; however, it was only after the completion of the projects that they were revealed as possible approaches to urban soundscape design. This is an important distinction of creative practice research over more traditional investigations: there is no hypothesis to begin with, just the act of making and perhaps an associated intent (my initial intent was to establish a site-of-respite). Only after the making does the knowledge being pursued rise to the surface and present itself to the maker. This is an intuitive process that is somewhat idiosyncratic; nonetheless, it is capable of producing knowledge for a broader research community. Accordingly, the five sub-headings included in this chapter – ‘Subtraction’, ‘Addition’, ‘Transformation’, ‘Passion’ and ‘Disclosure’ – are also the soundscape design approaches that form the sonic rupture model, which will be discussed in the chapter to come.

Notes 1 The entirety of Chapter 3 is devoted to a discussion of the research wherein the concept of the sonic rupture was discovered. In this discussion, the term ‘sonic practitioner’ rather than ‘sound artist’ is employed, because it embraces a broad range of potential practitioners, including sound artists, musicians, composers and designers. Likewise, in lieu of the term ‘sound art installation’, the more general term ‘sound installation’ has been employed here. This decision is somewhat tactical. There is interchanging dialogue between the domains of art theory and musicology debating the legitimacy and meaning of the term ‘sound art’. While interesting, these conversations distract from the present argument, which is more concerned with the making of sound installations that affect environments and perceptions than it is with the theoretical contextualization of existing works. This is not to say that the sound artist does not have a unique place within the establishment of a network of rupture points, as will be made clear in Chapters 3 and 4. It is simply to say that the theoretical debate is less important than the emergent relations between practitioner and space, which lies at the heart of the sonic rupture. For an instructive example of this interchanging dialogue, see Christoph Cox’s (2009) discussion of the term sound art, partly a defence against Max Neuhaus (quoted in Kelly 2011: 72)


Sonic Rupture who dismisses the term in favour of a broader application of the term music. A similar debate has emerged through Kane’s (2013) critique of Voegelin (2014). He argues that Voegelin is overly concerned with the experiencing of sound art rather than the making of the work itself, which we might better understand as a musical process rather than through theories of sound art. The latter view tends to be favoured by theoreticians such as Voegelin (2010), LaBelle (2010) and Cox (2009). LaBelle (2010) in particular extends this argument by positioning twentieth-century sound art as integral to the history of art.

2 See Harvey and Leong (2005) and Lacey and Harvey (2011a) for further discussion. 3 See;ID=7t6t88ggixks (accessed 20 May 2014) for a YouTube clip that includes sample survey questions and video of a site-ofrespite within the virtual world, created for the CitySounds report. 4 In this instance, I am referring to attitudes towards urban soundscape design in the domain of Acoustic Ecology. Other approaches include concert performances and education as a means to propagate messages relating to the importance of healthy and well-balanced soundscapes. 5 Barry Truax describes lo-fi and hi-fi soundscapes in the following passage: ‘Situations where signal detection is difficult or impossible may be termed “lo-fi” environments, by analogy to electroacoustic signals of poor quality, high noise, and distortion. The complementary situation, the “hi-fi” environment, is one in which all sounds may be heard clearly, with whatever detail and spatial orientation they may have. Such an environment is, by definition, balanced and well “designed”, whether the design is intentional or the result of natural causes’ (Truax 2001: 23). 6 There are many studies that have reached similar conclusions: noise from traffic and aircraft posesses a health risk. See, for example, Goines and Hagler (2007), Sharp (2010) and Lars and Babisch (2008). 7 There are numerous studies suggesting that people prefer nature sounds to mechanical and technological sounds. See, for example, Gidlöf-Gunnarsson and Öhrström (2007) and Jian Kang (2007). However, some studies also suggest generational and cultural variations in attitudes towards noise. For example, Kang (2007) posits that young people are less enamoured with natural sounds than older generations. Additionally, a study by Guastavino (2006) reports that people in French cities like the mechanical sound of trains and trams, as they attach such sounds to environmental responsibility. These variations

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challenge the dualistic account provided by Barry Truax and acoustic ecology, as described in endnote 13 of this chapter. 8 St. Michael’s Uniting Church on Collins Street, Melbourne, has attempted to create a non-denominational quite space called Mingary. Unfortunately, it fails to fulfil the criteria for a site-of-respite, due to its doors opening onto an exceptionally busy streetscape. The sounds reverberate inside the small tiled space, which is hardly conducive to quiet contemplation. 9 See Bostwick (2012) for more information. 10 It was at this point that I discovered Björn Hellström’s 2003 study, Noise Design. Hellström is critical of the Acoustic Ecology agenda, and suggests a design approach to urban sound that designs urban noise through sound art approaches, rather than an exclusive focus on the removal of noise. His argument had a significant influence on my unfolding approach to urban soundscape design. 11 The acoustic horizon is defined in the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology as ‘the farthest distance in every direction from which sounds may be heard’ (Truax 1999). 12 Filtration is an effect defined by CRESSON as ‘a reinforcing or weakening of specific frequencies of a sound’ (Augoyard and Torgue 2005: 48). 13 One could possibly argue that the masking effect affords speech privacy, which allows interlocutors an opportunity for intimate or private talk in public spaces. It is interesting to consider that perhaps noise offers such opportunities in public spaces, and that by removing noise, an unwanted acoustic transparency is created; a further challenge to Acoustic Ecology’s attitudes to urban noise. 14 Barry Truax (2001: 63) suggests that ‘people feel alienated by machine sounds’ and Michael Bull (2000: 143) suggests that the use of iPods presents an escape from the external environment in which ‘they are not concerned with aesthetically drawing in the urban world but rather with solipsistically transcending it’. 15 I was fortunate enough to have some correspondence with Barry Truax on this matter. Included in his thoughtful reply was this comment: ‘When you stopped the exhaust (which must have been a great moment), you observed the lifting of the masking effect and the expanded horizon. If that had gone on for some time, I would have expected the dynamics of interaction in the space to change. In other words, the mediating role of sound in the space to reduce listening and soundmaking could have turned to the opposite.’ Suggestive in Truax’s statement is that with a prolonged absence of the sound source, social changes


Sonic Rupture would have become more pronounced. I don’t doubt this, and indeed this leads one to imagine what a citywide shutdown might achieve.

16 In the sense of Johan Redstrom’s argument that Acoustic Ecology is phenomenological and not ecological: ‘Soundscapes is about the experiences of sound … making this approach essentially phenomenological’ (Redstrom 2007: 1). Michael Bull’s (2000) argument is also phenomenological, but his findings seem consistent with Truax insofar as the negativity of experiences of urban sound is foregrounded. 17 Further complicating the issue was the addition of student-led electroacoustic interventions in the space. For further information on this process, see a paper I presented at the 2012 Cumulus Helsinki Conference entitled ‘Revoicing the Striated Soundscape: A Case Study of Student Soundscape Design Interventions at RMIT University’ (Lacey 2012b: 16). 18 AudioSculpt is a software program created at Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) studios for viewing, analysing and processing sounds. For more information, see english/software/audiosculpt (accessed 22 January 2016). 19 By this time, I was placing exhaust outlets, ventilation outlets and air-conditioners under the same term: air conditioners. 20 See for more information on WasP (accessed 20 May 2014). 21 Entrainment is understood here as synchronizing rhythms. The emergent graffiti began to take on a visual form, which was comparable to the sonic gestures and speaker configuration of the sound installation. For more discussion on entrainment, see Clayton, Sager and Will (2004). 22 Interestingly enough this graffiti image is almost identical to the sonic logo for the Soundfield ST350 Microphone, which I used for sound recordings in the same laneway. 23 There are interesting psychological and ethical questions to be explored here in regard to the role of site-specific noise design unintentionally drawing listener attention to noises that are typically rendered obsolete by habituation. 24 For more information about Liquid Architecture see http://www. (accessed 27 August 2015). 25 Frustratingly, I could never access the exact dimensions of the space, but I would estimate the Trench to be 5m wide, 8m high and 30m long. 26 The connection with Lopez here is interesting. I would consider my own approach to Acoustic Ecology somewhat consistent with Lopez who ‘considers

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himself an ecologist; yet rejects many of the assumptions and practices of the Acoustic Ecology movement’ (Cox and Warner 2004: 82). Lopez considers environmental sound as acousmatic; examples of this are cicada sounds, which can be heard but not seen. Lopez uses field recordings to create profound listening experiences for his blindfolded audience. I would regard my work in the Trench to have taken a similar approach, but in regard to the transformation of urban noises. 27 As per Federation Square regulations, a Warden had to be present in the Trench at all times when members of the public were present, in case of an emergency. 28 Much as a cathedral brings out the long frequency resonances of Gregorian chanting. 29 At the time I thought of this methodology as a ‘repatterning’ of the soundscape. For further discussion see Lacey (2013a). 30 I have discussed this in a previous paper: Lacey (2014c), ‘Site-Specific Soundscape Design for the Creation of Sonic Architectures and the Emergent Voices of Buildings’, Buildings, 4 (1): 1–24. 31 Pauline Oliveros’ sound works elicit a meditative response in the listener. She has written a book titled Deep Listening: A Composers’ Sound Practice in which instructions are provided to enter a deep listening state. I didn’t follow these instructions per se, but her approach has encouraged my own practice of concentrated listening preceding sonic interactions with sonic ecologies. 32 This experience was the inspiration for a paper I wrote for the Buildings Journal, titled ‘Site-Specific Soundscape Design for the Creation of Sonic Architectures and the Emergent Voices of Buildings’ (Lacey 2014c). 33 A full, unedited recording of one of the live performances can be found at 34 As part of a feature on Radio National’s Into the Music, titled Acoustic Architecture. To hear this feature visit programs/intothemusic/acoustic-architecture/4969332 (accessed 27 August 2015). It includes interviews with Richard Toop and Lawrence Harvey. 35 Email correspondence, 3 September 2013. 36 To hear this work visit (accessed 22 January 2016). 37 I have called the two projects entitled Intimate Footsteps and Mediumistic ‘bifurcations’ due to their tangential departure from the main arc of the


Sonic Rupture creative practice research process. Figure 1, at the beginning of this chapter, shows the curve upon which the above discussed projects – from noise removal to noise meditation – are situated. The two bifurcated projects have been placed on the same tangential line for the sake of simplicity; however, they are not connected by a recursive process in the same manner as the projects situated on the arc. In fact, both should be considered as distinct splinters from the main theme. A quality of creative practice research is that mistakes, accidents and the unexpected are just as valuable (if not more so) as any other discovery. A creative practice researcher integrates all results and outcomes – including successes and failures – into the post-project reflective process, from which a body of knowledge is formed. This can be a fraught process, as the researcher is left doubting the significance of certain lines of inquiry (this certainly happened to me with both bifurcations), and indeed there are times when lines of inquiry must be abandoned. A number of lines of inquiry were abandoned in this research process. (A brief example is a series of urban park recordings I embarked upon earlier in the research. I was trying to evaluate their effectiveness as sites-of-respite from city noise. I realized that I was pursuing a more quantitative process, and abandoned this in favour of the development of urban-based sound installations). A part of the challenge for the creative practice researcher is to pursue these emergent lines of inquiry with a veracity equal to that of the central line of inquiry, while trusting that there is a yet-to-be-discovered purpose to these unexpected outgrowths. In the case of my own design research process, the central line of inquiry (the arc of Figure 1) was the reconsideration of urban noise as nuisance to urban noise as reservoir of meditative and imaginative potential. However, in the postproject reflective period I came to realize that both of the approaches to urban soundscape design revealed by the bifurcations – passion and disclosure – were equally as important as the soundscape design approaches that emerged in the central line of inquiry – subtraction, addition and transformation. Due to their departure from the main recursive process, I have reduced the length of the explanation of both bifurcated projects. The point of the bifurcations is not to describe in detail their unfolding, but to explain how the bifurcations revealed the two approaches – passion and disclosure – that are included in the sonic rupture model. However, a deeper analysis of bifurcation 1 can be found in my thesis (Lacey 2014a). And more details of bifurcation 2 can be found online. For a review see, and to hear sound samples

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see (accessed 4 August 2015). 38 For more information on Steve Adams’ work, see http://steliosadam.wordpress. com (accessed 27 August 2015). 39 I am grateful to the company Soundfirm ( who generously provided me with a range of footstep sounds recorded by their foley artists. 40 For more information on the history of the site see visitor-information/history-of-the-site/the-site (accessed 20 February 2015). It is also interesting to note that European history is only recent in Australia (unlike Aboriginal history which stretches back sixty millenniums), so to have a public building with a continuous history dating back to the mid-nineteenth century is unusual. 41 For more information, see Lynch’s website: (accessed 29 May 2015). 42 I note there was no mention of this work in Toop’s book Sinister Resonance, which maintains a discernible distance from anything that might be deemed paranormal. Although in a roundabout way, it can be said that like Toop, Walsh and Kubick were providing a historical account of art through sound. 43 For a transcription of the interview see archive/14/artafterdeath/ (accessed 15 December 2014).


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The sonic rupture model is a direct outgrowth of the practice discussed in Chapter 3. Without the practice, there would be no model to speak of. Born in the crucible of creative action, the model is not intended to be a static arrangement of prescribed rules; rather it is a dynamic tool for the creation of sonic ruptures within the urban crust. The chapter begins by providing a general description of the geometrical features of the model, specifically in relation to the practice described in this book. Ten urban soundscape design intentions are described, which foregrounds the importance of practitioners’ intentions in forming relationships with space. This aspect of the model ensures that just as the environment affects the practitioner, she or he is consciously affecting the environment. Following this are detailed descriptions of five approaches to urban soundscape design – addition, subtraction, passion, transformation and disclosure. A number of international sound artists, architects, sculptors and composers are referenced whose works could be considered emblematic of each of the proposed approaches. While the model primarily acts as a tool for creative practice, it also contributes to urban design and planning approaches that seek to integrate a practice-led dimension to their programming.

The sonic rupture model The sonic rupture model is a tool developed for a practice-led urban soundscape design program. The diamond-shaped model comprises two halves and a central plane (Figure 43). The bottom half represents five installations, discussed in detail in Chapter 3, that radiate from a Musicality base. The central plane (reproduced in full on the right of Figure 43) is bounded


Figure 43 Sonic rupture model.

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Figure 43 Sonic rupture model (Continued).



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by the five approaches to urban soundscape design revealed by the creative practice research process. The plane reveals ‘ten intentions for urban soundscape design’, which will be described below. The top half of the model represents the new sonic environments experienced by those who encounter the sound installations. Five rupture types have been included in the top half of the model, which were derived from conversations with passers-by/audiences who experienced each of the five installations described in Chapter 3.1 The creative practice research portion of the model is contained within the base, titled ‘Musicality’. Musicality represents the relationship between practitioner and city: it indicates that process-of-musicality, and its implied relationships, from which site-specific sound installations are born. The affectbased theories presented in the first two chapters of this book, which were formulated after the model’s emergence, are located at the apex of the model, titled ‘Rupture’. A line can be imagined to pass through the centre of the prism, linking Musicality and Rupture – two poles of a continuum where practice produces ruptures and ruptures are the realization of practice. Now, imagine the upper and lower points of the model pressed into the centre of the plane. Rupture and Musicality meet in the middle, merge as one and form the crux of the sonic practice discussed in this work: musicality-as-rupture orbited by a multiplicity of design approaches and intentions. It is a practice that aims to expand the possible creativity of the urban crust, and contribute to the emergence of new natures across our global cities. Finally, as the model emerges from a creative practice research process, it should not be thought of as a set of rules or conditions to be followed. Rather it is a flexible tool that can be utilized by sonic practitioners for their own endeavours. Now, let us turn our attention to the ten design intentions and five approaches for urban soundscape design, which form the central plane of the sonic rupture model.

Ten intentions for urban soundscape design The central plane of the sonic rupture model, bounded by the five approaches, reveals ten possible intentions behind urban soundscape

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design. These intentions are indicated along the axes of the pentagon/star shape seen at top right in Figure 43. The plane is suggestive of the affective interface between practitioner and sonic ecology. The creative disposition of the practitioner, called ‘Musicality’, forms the foundation for these intentions. The process of forming this disposition, described at length in Chapter 1, is driven by the relationships that the practitioner articulates with an affective sonic ecology. Simultaneously, the affective capacities of the environment, represented in the model as the downward press of the ‘Rupture’ point, shape the practitioner’s experiences and, in so doing, retune his or her intentions. As explained in Chapter 1, in the first instance, a rupture occurs in the practitioner before a rupturing installation can be realized. If the environment has not affected the practitioner’s intentions, then the consequent installation cannot be said to rupture the environment. Rather it is an imposition on the environment (to serve a function) instead of something that has grown from a relationship. The relationship constitutes an affective locus wherein the practitioner and environment are engaged in a dynamic encounter. Eventually, this relationship actualizes as an installation, which proceeds to rupture the environment. For instance, as an urban environment’s drone affects me (with a sense of numbness and inevitability, for example) my impressions of the space are being shaped, and this shape comes to inform my intentions. My intention may be to create a sense of play, for all I see are the tired faces of my fellow city workers, our shared melancholy shaped by the same droning air conditioners. Or perhaps my intention is to create a meditative atmosphere; as I watch an office worker appear in their quiet backdoor ‘smoko’ spot, I come to feel a sense of privacy and enclosure that the environment affords and think, ‘how could I accentuate for them this moment of reflection?’ To summarize, the model not only represents the environmental affects experienced by the practitioner, but also the intentions that the practitioner brings to bear from that moment on. Each of the ten design intentions was derived through consideration of the relationships between each pair of approaches. Admittedly this is somewhat arbitrary. There is no reason that more intentions could not be constructed through, for example, considering relations between each trio of approaches (and so forth). Relations have been limited to pairs of approaches to fit the


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constraints of the model. Upon selecting a design intention, the practitioner can trace it towards the two urban soundscape design approaches between which it has emerged. Each design intention can then be studied in relation to the specific details of the project works discussed in Chapter 3. But this is only one way to apply the model. Alternatively, in keeping with its nonprescriptive nature, it is equally plausible to interchange any of the intentions and approaches. There are no set rules when it comes to the creative process, which is unique to each creative practitioner. The central point being that the intentions of the practitioner are as expansive as the creative practitioners who apply the model. The ten listed here may act as prompts or catalysts for the practitioner who enters the field; certainly I experienced the ten intentions, at varying times, during the making process described in this book. Reveal – By subtracting a sound what are you revealing about the space? Is there something hidden that you are bringing to people’s attention? This intention is not just about the removal of sound; it is also about revealing concealed qualities of space otherwise masked by dominating sounds. Captivate – Perhaps the intention is to make the listener more attentive to the immediate environment. A space transformed by rearranging the existing sonic ecology may attract listener attentiveness, due to emergent differences in the typically apprehended sound field. This can be subtle (the transformation of typically unheard sounds that are endemic to a space) or overt (exaggerating an already dominant form). Evoke – What can draw forth smiles, mirth, curiosity or other emotive expressions? Evoking passion in spaces otherwise dominated by functionalism seeks the transformation of the banal into the joyous through sonic intervention. This intention considers alternatives to the enduring exploitation of experience design, advertising and Muzak (or mood music) on our emotional states. Play – There is little time for play during the working day. And after the working day play tends to be programmed for specific spaces – bars, parks and festivals. How can we engender playfulness in the everyday? This intention reminds us that the Earth never demanded a quotidian life; there is always room for play.

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Appear – What can be revealed about a space that was previously hidden? This is similar to reveal, except that these apparitions are achieved by adding something to the space, or accentuating something that already exists but has gone unnoticed. Subtract – By subtracting noises, space is transformed. This intention, like the subtraction approach described below, is closest to the acoustic ecologist’s heart: experiencing the absence of noise. To achieve this in specific city spaces is difficult, but it is exceedingly important where noise is ubiquitous. Quantity – Why are you intending to add/subtract sounds, and exactly what sounds need to be added or subtracted? What quantifiable values should be considered in regard to volume levels, density of material, hours of operation and the furthest points at which the installation can be heard? This is the most practical of intentions. Meditate – Noise can be transformed into meditative expressions by carefully adding transformative sounds. Just as the white noise of the ocean and wind can lull us into a dreamlike state, with the right amount of shaping, urban noise can induce meditative countenances in the immersed subject. De-alienate – Homogenous fields of noise cause the human subject to withdraw from the everyday. The intent here is to draw the alienated listener into the moment through the introduction of passion, which has a strong relationship with the intention to evoke. Engage – This is a more positive intention than de-alienation. It suggests that each of us desires to engage in everyday life. Our affirmative attitudes are disclosed by eliciting passionate responses: interactive and otherwise.

Five approaches to urban soundscape design The five approaches to urban soundscape design were discovered by reflecting on the significance of the five major projects that were realized during the creative practice research process. This is represented in Figure 43 by the five project emanations radiating from the Musicality pole at the base of the


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model. Included in the discussion of each approach are specific examples of installation works by internationally recognized creative practitioners who work in the public realm, and whose works are emblematic (in my opinion) of the soundscape design approaches described here. The five approaches presented here are not intended to be exhaustive; in fact, the number of possible approaches to creating ruptures is unlimited, and is dependent only on the ongoing discoveries of creative practice researchers.2 The main objective of the approaches is to contribute to stimulating and articulating sonic practitioners’ relationships with urban space.

Addition Addition is the approach with the broadest application. Except for circumstances in which we may wish to remove sound, an urban soundscape designer is always adding sounds to the environment (even if this means augmenting existing sounds). In the context of creating a rupture, addition has the general quality of introducing sounds that interact with the urban soundscape in some way. Transforming the voice of the urban – which could be seen as a subset of the addition approach – has its own dedicated approach: transformation. Likewise, sounds added to the environment that augment existing conditions (Disclosure), or entirely ignore existing conditions by introducing sounds that distract the listener from the influence of existing conditions (Passion) have their own approaches. As such, addition can also be employed as an umbrella term covering four distinct approaches. However, addition requires its own analysis, due to its inseparable connection to the subtraction approach. A specific example of where sonic addition might be more desirable than subtraction is when a noise source cannot be removed. The addition approach becomes a way to produce new experiences wherever homogeneity is encountered. This was the intention behind Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. When it became apparent that creating silence in Melbourne’s laneways was not possible due to the ubiquity of air conditioners, exhaust fans and ventilation outlets, I responded by adding sounds to the environment. Addition provided me with the option to create new experiences in the laneway by adding sounds that worked alongside existing sounds.

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If the addition approach is utilized by the practitioner, not only does the decision of what sounds to add become pertinent, but also what volume the sounds should be played at in relation to background ambient levels. Noise  complaints are common. I received continuous complaints from the same objector during the installation period of Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. At first it was clear that the installation was too loud, but upon turning it down the complaints continued. It is difficult to deal with members of the public who are serial complainers, and rightly or wrongly, they wield disproportionate power in relation to the vast majority who are open and intrigued by the new. In fact, we might speculate that these individuals are expressing the totalizing needs of functionalist imperatives, which quickly dismantle any apparatus deemed to disturb the typical repetitive patterns of the everyday. It is important for the sonic practitioner to consider these possibilities when adding sounds to the environment. Failure to do so will lead to constant aggravations or, at worst, decommissioning. It is interesting to note that functional Muzak (or ‘Mood Music’ as it is now called) easily locates itself in public spaces, unlike rupture points that aim to diversify. The programmed sounds of Muzak are expressions of dominant affective forces, and are thus complimentary to the political hegemony of space.

Addition precedents Any sound artist who has added sounds to the environment has created a potential precedent. Six works are mentioned that have both ruptured space and secured permanency. Permanent installation suggests a successful appeasement of spatial controls while maintaining status as a point of experiential difference, which is the optimum achievement for sonic practitioners wanting to create ruptures. Max Neuhaus is a sound installation pioneer. His most well-known work Times Square, a large speaker located beneath a grill in Times Square New York that emits a mechanical hum of multiple frequencies, may be considered an early example of a sonic rupture. The work originally appeared from 1977 to 1992 and has been permanently installed in its original location since 2002. A key to its longevity is its placement away from businesses and residences


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in an otherwise busy and noisy thoroughfare. The sounds are complimentary to the surrounding soundscape, and invite a momentary ‘tuning in’ to the immediate environment. The rupture in this case is to create a moment of contemplative stillness in a space that is overwhelmed by large flickering screens and passing traffic. Immersed in the work for an extended period of time, the introduced sound begins to feel like a central point of stillness in which the heaving throngs of traffic and pedestrians, and the orbiting mass of flickering screens, seem to hover. Neuhaus has created a place of calm in an otherwise turbulent environment. Such spaces of subtle differences are opportunities that the affective earth, unmediated by the urban, typically affords: ephemeral moments of irruptive awareness. The installation could be said to adopt the transformation approach given that the  added sounds seem to belong to the site; nevertheless, I include it here, as the work is an initiating example of an installation that successfully adds sounds to the urban environment. Bernhard Leitner is an intriguing mixture of sound practitioner and architect. He is best known for spatial arrangements of speakers designed specifically for the experience of the human body. While his works are often gallery-based, he has also designed sound installations in outdoor environments. Le Cylindre Sonore was constructed for the Parc de la Villette in 1987. Within two layers of tall cylindrical concrete walls, located beneath ground level and surrounded by extensive bamboo forests, are twenty-four loudspeakers that play sounds that resonate within the cylinder. The resonant chamber affords a fully immersive sonic experience. The cylinder has two doors on opposite sides that passers-by can use while wandering through the concrete gardens. Alternatively, three concrete cubes in the space invite the listener to sit. There is a range of electroacoustic sounds to be experienced including water and glass-like sounds, spatialized high-frequency sounds that dance around the head and deeply resonated frequencies that produce a chant-like effect. Surrounding birdcalls and the voices of distant passers-by flow into the submerged space further augmenting the soundscape. Due to the installation’s submersion below ground, and its material difference from the surrounding parkland, it is an excellent example of a rupture point able to provide a specific locus of difference from its immediate surroundings.

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Leitner’s Water Mirror was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Music Festival in Germany (1997). The suspension of a parabolic metal vault from the roof of a small pavilion called the Danube temple amplifies, for the listener located beneath it, the sounds of the adjacent Danube River. The work increases awareness of the subtle variations of flow in the river. This work is probably better classified under the disclosure approach; its consideration here illustrates the way the addition and disclosure approaches intersect. Björn Hellström is a sound artist and urban soundscape designer based at Konstfack University in Stockholm. He applies the metabolic effect, which aims to produce an unstable sound environment that is constantly shifting the listener’s perception (Hellström 2012: 4). He combines this sonic effect with the technique of informational masking, which introduces sounds that distract the listener from dominant background sounds like traffic. Using these techniques he is able to produce sound installations that provide well-defined, yet subtle points of difference from the immediate environment. In a work called ‘Sonic Space’ located in Stockholm’s Mariatorget – a park surrounded by busy roads – six speakers play a combination of sounds recorded in a nearby nature reserve. Standing beneath the speakers creates the experience of being showered by a cascade of very fine crystals. Another of Hellström’s Stockholm works, located at Gallerain shopping centre, uses directional speakers and a large glowing chandelier to create an immersive atmosphere.3 Ambient sounds and soft lighting create a distinct contrast to the otherwise programmatic nature of the centre. The space is strikingly social: the chairs are filled with people talking to one another. When visiting with a friend who asked people about the sounds, a number of them reported that they were not aware of any introduced sounds. This suggests that one need not be conscious of sound to be affected by its presence. Hellström has resolved a number of issues that are presented by the addition approach: he ensures sound is highly localized through the selection of directional speakers, and he applies volume levels similar to that of ambient background levels, ensuring that the intrusive qualities of sound are contained. The City of Melbourne is home to six public electroacoustic soundscape systems,4 each of which adds sounds to the urban environment with varying successes. One such soundscape system, which constitutes the fourth example


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of addition, is called the Southgate soundscape system. It was installed in 1991 and is comprised of 156 speakers. The speakers are seamlessly embedded in everyday infrastructure, including fences and lampposts. As such, the Southgate system is an excellent example of a successful physical installation of sonic infrastructure. However, the system also provides an example of the importance of ensuring a non-disruptive advantage when adding sounds to the environment. The system was decommissioned in 2006, due to its perceived intrusion into the existing environment, which is a busy consumer and entertainment complex. A number of works were played on the Southbank system, including notable Melbourne-based composers Les Gilbert, Lawrence Harvey, David Chesworth and Nigel Frayne. The Southgate soundscape system was decommissioned due to its incommensurability with the functional imperatives (eating and shopping precinct) of the immediate space. This example is illustrative of the importance of considering the social and political conditions of space when adding sounds to the environment.5 Sound installations need not be electroacoustic. They can be sculptural and/or architectural objects. The next two examples could just as easily be placed in the transformation or disclosure approaches due to their capacity to generate sounds from environmental elements. However, in both examples a sculpture/architectural object has been added to the environment, accounting for their inclusion in the addition approach. The two examples are the Singing, Ringing Tree (completed 2006) and the Sea Organ (installed 2005). The Singing, Ringing Tree is situated in Lancashire, England. It is a tree-shaped sculpture designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu for the Panopticons arts and regeneration project, created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network. It is a sound sculpture made up of a series of resonant metal pipes that captures the wind to produce haunting renditions of this everyday phenomena. It is strategically located on the top of an exposed hill away from human settlements overlooking the town of Burnley. The work has clearly captured the public’s imagination: it has had four million views on YouTube and at the time of writing the architects have new commissions to create Singing, Ringing Trees in Saudi Arabia and in Texas. It is hoped that the sublime capacity of the Lancashire-based Singing Ringing Tree to express its spirit of place will also be achieved by its international cousins. The Sea

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Organ,6 an architectural object based on Zadar, Croatia, was designed by architect Nikola Bašić in collaboration with a team of experts from Zagreb Civil Engineering University. Sea waves enter open-ended polyethylene tubes and the opposite ends of the tubes open into a large resonant space beneath white marble steps, which play a series of harmonic sounds through apertures in the vertical rises of the stairs. The length of stairs, tracing the edge of the Zadar shore line, is made of seven sections each with five pipes, which play seven chords of five tones. The sounds are languorous, like a melancholy orchestra of pipe players blowing randomly – in and out. The movement of the water seems to synchronize with the sea organ sounds, which at times spreads along the reach of stairs like a wave rippling across a shoreline. Similar to the Singing, Ringing Tree, it is cleverly located away from human habitation, but in this case within a coastal space, adjacent to the city of Zadar. Tourists and locals heavily utilize it, and importantly, it has a unique capacity to encourage visitors to listen, unlike many works that are easily ignored by fast moving, and distracted, crowds. Both works are exemplary examples of objects that reshape common sonic phenomena (wind and water) into iconic sonic and visual environments that produce varying imaginative affects. A final example for the addition approach is the possibility of installing sound parks in urban spaces. Two contemporary examples of sound forests/ parks are the Musica Impulse Centre for Music’s Klankenbos (Sound Forest)7 in Northern Belgium near the city of Neerpelt, and the Caramoor Centre for Music and the Arts Garden of Sonic Delights8 near the town of Katoonah, New York. Klankenbos, directed by Paul Craenen, requires sound artists to create works that are sensitive to the forest’s existing sound environments. Pierre Berthet’s Houses of Sound, Hans van Koolwijk’s Oorsprong and Tony Di Napoli’s Chaise Résonnante are inaudible until the listener is sitting or standing within their structures, at which point each work provides an immersive bodily and listening experience. The structures, in different ways, vibrate to form resonant fields that the body can feel as well as hear. The Garden of Sonic Delights, curated by sound artist Stephan Moore, includes eight installations. The works were temporary though at the time of writing there was a plan to permanently install two of the works: Annea Lockwood and Bob Bielecki’s Wild Energy plays a series of soundscapes composed from non-audible frequency ranges


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emanating from those everyday sources which affect us (including the sun, the earth’s crust and the ionosphere), through speakers hidden in adjoining undergrowth; Stone Song by Ranjit Bhatnagar emits a drone synthesizer sound, slowly transformed by a series of environmental sensors, from inside a carefully structured rock pile. When speaking to the curators of both sound forest/parks (Craenen and Moore) I asked them if the idea of a sound park could be translated to an urban area. Their main concern was the issue of vandalism, understandable given the fragility of some of the installations. However, works such as Le Cylindre Sonore, Sea Organ and the Singing, Ringing Tree suggest that through considerate design, robust structures can successfully house sound installations (indeed, Hans van Koolwijk’s long metal cylindrical Oorsprong9 provides an excellent example). Both sound forests/parks are suggestive of the possibilities for future cities to provide a range of sonic experiences by the addition of sound sculptures. In fact, the City of Melbourne has gone some way to achieving this with the installation of Federation Bells10 in Birrarung Marr, designed by Anton Hasell and Neil McLachlan in collaboration with Swaney Draper Architects. The installation comprises an array of thirty-nine upturned bronze bells (placed atop poles varying in height from 2 to 6  metres), which are activated by a control room hidden not far from the bells. They can be heard from long distances, enticing visitors towards it, which differentiates it from the other parks discussed above. The combining factors of cultural acceptability (given the historical familiarity of church bells) and its unusually isolated position (for a city park), ensure its longevity despite its relative loudness; however, in general, sound parks closer to residential dwellings and/or businesses will require careful design to ensure sounds do not antagonize nearby residents, while retaining those affective qualities that afford unique listener experiences.

Subtraction Subtraction is the soundscape design approach that we might think of as being best aligned with the desires of Acoustic Ecology. This is not to say that addition is not an equally relevant approach. Murray Schafer’s Soniferous Garden11 and Barry Truax’s discussions of potential electroacoustic interventions12 both

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require the addition of sounds. However, if we consider both practitioners’ concerns with urban noise pollution and its alienating affects, then presumably subtraction emerges as their favoured approach to urban soundscape design. The project Silencing Urban Exhalations, which was inspired by the ideas of Acoustic Ecology, is an example of the subtraction approach. Anecdotal evidence from this experience (see Chapter 3) suggested changes in social space that can occur when dominating noise sources are removed. In particular, groups of people could be seen huddling near the silenced exhaust stack, speaking intimately. And subtle sounds, typically lost, were now dancing through the space. Subtraction is not just an urban management approach that hopes to remove unwanted noise; it is also a method of revealing sounds that are typically masked by the dominating presence of noise (in this sense, subtraction has a strong relationship to disclosure, as will be discussed). Overall, the subtraction approach presents a method for bringing our attention to the immediate moment by removing dominating sonic agents. Sonic practitioners are presumably intimately aware of their immediate sonic environment, and note the impacts of simple sonic changes, which the general public may not, such as air conditioners turning off in social spaces. Suddenly, speech levels drop, despite an apparent lack of awareness of the sonic change. This suggests we are not necessarily conscious of the environmental changes that affect us. However, we do make conscious decisions to control these affective experiences by purposely transplanting our bodies into altered environments (indeed, rupture is built on this premise). For example, at times we might seek to subtract the noise of the city by retreating to a wilderness area. It usually takes a few hours for the mind to ease into the silenced surroundings. The body is affected first – its pace slows; breathing lingers in the crisp air, until eventually the mind settles into its own gentle meanderings as it slowly entrains to its new surroundings. We might wonder what a largescale, long-term city shutdown would achieve. The permanent subtraction of sound would certainly change the environment, and therefore our experiences within it. But beyond the occasional citywide blackout, we can only speculate what this might mean. Due to the difficulty of removing noise, the soundscape designer is left primarily with the addition approach as a way to diversify the homogenous soundscapes of the urban.


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Subtraction precedents Surprisingly, there are only a few examples where subtraction has successfully ruptured the everyday. In addition to his work Times Square, Max Neuhaus created a series of Time Pieces, which was designed to create ‘moments’. These moments are similar to the intent of a sonic rupture: to draw the listener’s attention into the moment, through intervention. In his 2005 sound work Time Piece Beacon, Neuhaus ‘creates a zone of sound around the perimeter and in the galleries of the [Dia Art Foundation] museum. As each hour approaches, a low tone gradually emerges, almost imperceptibly increasing in volume; the hour is signalled when the sound abruptly ends, creating what seems a silence in the ambient sonic environment.’13 The power of subtraction is not just the removal of unwanted sound, as the work Silencing Urban Exhalations achieved. In the case of Time Piece Beacon, subtraction is a compositional tool that plays with our perceptions by suddenly withdrawing a sound that had been slowly building. Sounds that appear become even more powerful when suddenly disappearing, and leave in our perceptions a residue of their existence. CRESSON has a term for this: ‘anamnesis’: the trace of a sound lingering in the mind after it has disappeared. Subtraction is a means that can be used to play with this particular sonic effect. Peter Zumthor is a landscape architect with an interest in Zen Buddhism.14 His sonic interests are evident in the 2011 Serpentine Pavilion, which was featured in London’s Kensington Gardens. The Pavilion was a deep, blackcoloured timber structure surrounding a lush garden designed by landscape artist Piet Oudolf. The structure sat in stark contrast to its immediate surroundings, and served as a ‘contemplative room in the midst of urban chaos’.15 Subtraction occurs in this work in two ways. First, by building an enclosure surrounded by high walls, urban sounds are attenuated, which allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the quiet gardens of the buildings’ internals, which for Zumthor demonstrates ‘how a garden can fight against the noise of the city’.16 Secondly, the gardens were purposefully designed to attract bird and insect life. To better afford this sonic addition, Zumthor requested that the park authorities turn off the generator that controlled their public address system17 so that the sounds of the birds and insects could be heard.

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The K2S Architects Ltd designed Chapel of Silence18 in Helsinki has achieved something similar. Free of religious iconography but replete with the experience of contemplative silence, this secular chapel offers an escape from the noises of the city. Constructed of wood, its physicality is as much a rupturing of the city’s concrete and bitumen, as its quiet interior is a rupturing of the ongoing city noises. James Turrell’s work, ‘Within Without’, installed at the National Gallery of Victoria (2010) in Canberra, provides a surreal internal environment where light and sound create homage to the natural. Turrell ruptures the surroundings with built forms that re-pattern existing light and sound, without the need for any electrical interventions. These three works are masterful examples of how built structures can house affective atmospheres that are as evocative and effective as nature, in their capacity to affect diverse experiences in the immersed listener.

Passion Passion is a broadly defined approach that acts as a repository for those works that sit outside the more specifically defined approaches of transformation and disclosure. What is common to all these works, and that which exemplifies the passion approach, is a desire to draw a passionate response from the listener. The capacity to rupture is the capacity to challenge the banality of the everyday by creating a moment in which the internal passions of the passers-by are afforded a moment’s expression. Passion can be characterized as a process of de-alienation, for this approach has the potential to challenge the feeling of alienation associated with everyday urban life: consider the silenced commuter, the office worker who trudges the same path every day to work and the personalized stereo system user who escapes the noises of the city by generating a personal soundscape. Sound installations that hope to interrupt these predictable repetitions seek from us a moment’s mirth, a touch of curiosity and even the expression of joy: a visceral connection with the moment. In this instance, the sonic practitioner creates a work that punctures the everyday with the infectious sounds of human laughter and the gestural peculiarities of the curious. Practitioner becomes jester, rupturing the homogenous fields of the urban by flooding the body with feelings associated with revelry and play.


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The project Intimate Footsteps was the catalyst for this approach. Originally a work that intended to play with the rhythms of the city, it became instead a work that gently prodded at the boundaries of personal space while extracting smiles from its operators. It became a chair of passion that asked the operator to squeeze its arms and wriggle its seat. A connection between technology, sensuality and gesture was created, which afforded the operator with a moment to sit betwixt two lovers and even control the depth of passion between them. The chair afforded that moment of tense irruption – the uncomfortable process of being positioned between two lovers, with the knowledge that there was total control over their responses. The harder you squeezed, the more they seemed pleased! The smiles that emerged from each operator were infectious, causing those in close proximity to smile also; surely intimacy is the ultimate dissolution of alienation. This makes the passion approach an important one for consideration by the soundscape designer, as our cities, increasingly banalized by the demands of functionalism, require such moments of passion to remind us of the inextinguishable warmth of being human. A potential drawback of this approach is it can come across as a gimmick, which can become tiresome very quickly. One can only be addressed with a kiss and the comment ‘Hello Handsome’ so many times before the expression becomes another example of tedious repetition. As such, the passion approach requires a short lifespan, or at least a capacity to regularly change the sonic material that informs the installation.

Passion precedents Jim Green wants to make people smile. There is great generosity in this simple wish. Works such as ‘Talking Fence’ (2010) and ‘Laughing Escalator’ (2004) call out messages to passers-by, momentarily dismissing banality in favour of diverse communications. Hearing the sounds of laughter and mirth is a joyous break from the over-codified flows of hyper-productivity to which we are typically subservient. On his website, Green writes ‘My people-oriented approach uses sound to engage the public with humor and surprise to produce a social, interactive experience. I believe public art functions best when it humanizes public space.’19 Green’s views suggest that of an activist attempting

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to challenge the everyday by eliciting more diverse human reactions. Also note his desire to socialize space; when one person expresses the inner warmth of being human, it tends to spread effortlessly to those around them. This is a more personal type of affect, in which our own humanity becomes shaped by the human expressions around us. Laugher is infectious. Melbourne sound artist, Robin Fox, well known for his live noise performances and large-scale laser spectacles, produced a public artwork in 2011 titled ‘Giant Theremin’. The eponymously shaped object interrupts the typical flow of pedestrian traffic. Gestural movements interact with a hidden computer system that produces multiple sounds according to data received from a tracking system. In an interview Fox says ‘I’ve finally made something fun!’ and that his extension into the public realm, away from the concert hall, has allowed him to ‘create something that is for people, rather than given to them, so they have to bring something to it and perform it’.20 People of all ages and cultural backgrounds could be seen to interact with the work, making up their own dance moves, running through the space and laughing—a rupture point in which the typical flow of the everyday became a turbulent eddy of diverse gesture, human laughter and curiosity. Fox’s insight into the capacity of his work to encourage interactivity rather than passivity is insightful. It illustrates an important aspect of rupture, which is to produce social interaction rather than passive spectacle. Interactive designers Karmen Franinović and Yon Vissel have collaborated on a number of works including ‘Recycled Soundscapes’ (2004) and ‘Skyhooks’ (2006).21 Recycled Soundscapes re-patterns soundscapes by situating objects that allow participants to both record and recompose everyday sounds in situ. The work ruptures the everyday by ‘seek(ing) the transformation of an existing soundscape in ways that may make it amenable to the kinds of activities (contemplation, play) that are at odds with the hectic, task-based pace of the city’ (Franinović and Visell 2007: 1). Participants run their hands along the brims of sonic bowls to recompose sounds recorded in situ. ‘Skyhooks’ created a sky-based musical instrument that situated Invisible Sounding Objects (ISOs) – a 30 ⫻ 30 m 3D tracking system – above ground level, that participants could ‘play’ through an array of four speakers, by using helium-filled balloons (1.5m diameter) attached to custom-designed helmets. The balloons excited


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the arrangement of floating ISOs, producing sounds. Franinović and Vissel observed changes in the space, and reported that ‘Play and self-organized performance manifested in groups of 2–3 individuals improvising games or play … Isolated explorations were likewise noted, with individuals engaging for a long time with a single ISO in a single location’ (Ibid: 195). The works of Green, Fox and Franinović and Vissel are examples of the use of interaction as a means to diversify gesture, speech and emotional responses in everyday settings. Applying the passion approach needn’t be interactive. A unique example of evoking passionate responses through poeticizing public spaces is Susan Philipsz’s Lowlands Away, which notably won Philipsz the 2010 Turner Art Prize. The original installation (2010) was a multi-speaker work installed as part of the Glasgow International Art Festival ‘under three bridges in the city centre (with) the artist singing three versions of the same 16th-century Scottish song, in which a drowned lover returns to haunt his beloved’ (Botella 2011). The work makes use of the resonance afforded by the enclosed spaces,22 with the intention of stirring ancient memories of forgotten stories and forgotten places. There is poetry at work, reminding us that these spaces, now subservient to the demands of functionalism, may also become spaces of lament – an emotional resonance that Philipsz’s work discovers within the listener. In this instance the rupture is an irruption. By revealing the forgotten but still present stories of space, we are momentarily transported from our everyday lives into the mythologies of our latent memories.

Transformation The transformation approach is the most specifically defined of the five approaches, in that it is limited to working with site-specific sounds. While more constrained in its application, it is potentially more powerful than the passion approach. By transforming everyday sounds into new sonic experiences, newly affective environments challenge the everyday programming of space. This is different to the passion approach, which seeks to extract our passions  – typically states of play or emotive response. Alternatively, transformation has the capacity to suspend perception in

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between a dreaming and awakened state. As suggested in Chapter 2, it is speculated that ancient earthbound cultures were perpetually suspended in this state, where the dreaming possibilities of the imagination were entirely integrated into the everyday affairs of survival. The capacity for this type of consciousness is banished by the ubiquitous functionalisms demanded in the contemporary city, a state of capture that is perpetuated by the fixity (and proliferation) of noisy soundscapes. And yet within these very sounds lies the potential for realizing the imaginative. When the mind is forced into a state of unknowing through the simultaneous emergence of the imaginative and the real, unfamiliar experiences are formed that require new ways of knowing. Through the reworking of site-specific sounds, the immersed listener is afforded the opportunity to experience new stimulations, imaginations and awakenings within the very sounds that typically produce the functional environments of the everyday. This approach was formulated while creating Subterranean Voices, during which the potential of noise to create meditative environments was discovered. By subtly transforming existing environments with recorded sounds, the necessary balance between the real and processed was achieved. This effectively creates a new sound, in a live context. Subterranean Voices created a dreamlike state that left entire audiences sitting quietly for minutes after most performances had ended. The work revealed the affective potential of the everyday, which is always existent, but typically obscured by the banal affects of repetition. Transformation is the most political of the five approaches, in that it evokes imaginative responses by diversifying the reductive affects of noisy soundscapes.

Transformation precedents ‘Soundwalking’ is typically a group event in which participants walk in silence, and by listening attentively, become fully conscious of the sonic environment. Hildegard Westerkamp, an original member of the WSP, is a world-leading expert in soundwalking, as attested by her numerous publications, recordings and involvement in soundwalks. She states, ‘a soundwalk can be similar to a meditation: the world happens, the sounds occur and they pass. The meditating person is aware of all that happens … it becomes a rich source


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of soundscape knowledge and inspiration and ideally an enabling condition for changes in the acoustic environment.’23 Therefore, soundwalking has the capacity to transform our perceptions of everyday sounds. Soundwalking is a performative act, and among its many manifestations, it may include encounters with performers who augment listening experiences through acts of sound-making, which explore spatial properties and everyday sounds. In a presentation at the 2010 Sonic Acts Festival in Amsterdam, Westerkamp refers to a soundwalk in which participants, during their work, encountered a group calling themselves the ‘Improv Choir’. The group transforms existent sounds by humming like traffic, wailing like sirens and screeching like seagulls. This accentuates the soundwalking experience by transforming everyday sounds into something new and exhilarating. Westerkamp brings attention to the Improv Choir’s transformation of the soundscape explaining that as the soundwalking group ‘approached it was difficult to know which sounds were real and which were being voiced’.24 Westerkamp also brings attention to soundwalking as a political act. She says that ‘soundwalks are useless in a profit-driven world. They are a listening practice that reveals the environment to the listener and opens inner space for noticing. It is precisely this that creates a sense of inspiration, excitement and new energy, (and) encourages a deeper relationship with the environment.’25 This comment reveals the political nature of soundwalking, and is suggestive of its capacity to reconfigure our relationships with the urban by stimulating our imaginative and sensual responses to everyday soundscapes. Bruce Odland’s and Sam Auinger’s (O+A) work Harmonic Bridge successfully transforms traffic noises into a richly meditative sound field. The installation has been permanently installed beneath a traffic underpass since 1998 as part of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, USA.26 The work uses two 16-foot-brushed aluminium ‘tuning tubes’, installed along the roadway, which generates resonance in response to the sounds of passing traffic. Traffic sounds are translated into an overtone series in the key of C, using an embedded microphone in each tube suspended at a specific harmonic proportion. The resonant frequencies of the tubes play through two speakers (in a 2-channel configuration) embedded in concrete boxes, designed by the artists, which sit

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either side of the road beneath the bridge. The generated harmonies, combine with the rhythm of the traffic to create what the artists refer to as a ‘real-time song’ accessible to those listeners beneath the bridge. The sound installation has long affected meditative responses in listeners, who have spent enough time in the location that ‘the speakers (have been) rubbed smooth by a patina of people sitting and listening’.27 The MASS MoCA website describes the work as an eddy that otherwise disrupts the linear flow of traffic, enticing people to stop and listen to the transformed sounds of traffic.28 This is an exemplary example of a sound installation that could be located at multiple sites around the world, where mostly unused spaces beneath traffic underpasses could create unique sonic architectures that provide sites-of-respite from sonic homogeneity. Another work located beneath a bridge is the Neville Street refurbishment installed in 2008 in Leeds, North England, by sound artist Hans Peter Kuhn in collaboration with Bauman Lyons Architects. The work is located in a railway underpass in the centre of Leeds, which houses high pedestrian traffic. Before the refurbishment, pedestrians were exposed to high volumes of traffic noise accentuated by the reflective surfaces of the underpass. In response the creative team installed acoustically absorbent panels along either side of the road. By absorbing the previously high levels of reverberation, the overall volume of traffic sounds in the underpass was greatly reduced, allowing pedestrians to engage in conversations that would have been previously masked. Kuhn installed a 24-speaker system (sixteen cabinets and eight subwoofers) split evenly on either side of the road, networked to a MAC OS Server and MOTU 24 channel interface. Extraordinary ranges of composed sounds emerge from the sonic din dipping in and out of the rhythmic patterns of traffic noise (500 8-track compositions two to five minutes in length, with 0–5 compositions selected randomly by the software program Max/MSP). The reduced reverberation has the effect of assisting the listener in hearing clearly the mixture of composed and incidental sounds. At times the composed sounds seem to intensify the traffic’s roar, and at other times spatial patterns dance across the speaker array weaving in and out of the traffic’s roars and rhythmic configurations. In addition Kuhn installed a light installation on the east side of the wall comprising 3,000 LEDs that


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displays a different lighting configuration each day (500 LEDs are randomly activated), which, in unison with his compositions, provides pedestrians with an ever-shifting audiovisual environment.29 The work encourages everyday pedestrians to take a moment to sink into the electroacoustic soundscapes, and experience the typically banal sounds of traffic as composed, diverse and evocative expressions. A traffic theme also appears in a number of works by international sound artist Bill Fontana, who has ‘been interested in using sound to transform our perceptions of built spaces for a long time’.30 Two of his works, Sound Island and White Sound, mix geographically distinct sites – one of water, and one of traffic. Sound Island was located at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 1994. A live feed of ocean sounds from the Normandy coast were fed through fortyeight speakers joined to the façade of the Arc de Triomphe. The ocean sounds were heard to mask the eight-laned roundabout surrounding the monument. Fontana’s more recent White Sound, installed on London’s Euston Road in 2011 as part of the Wellcome Collection, transformed traffic sound with rolling waves and clattering pebbles from a live beach feed.31 Fontana’s work is reminiscent of Murray Schafer’s Wilderness Radio concept (Schafer 1987: 210) (playing environmental sounds directly into urban areas), except that Fontana has uniquely applied this concept by blending transduced ocean sounds with existent traffic sounds. Of White Sound, Catherine de Lange, who contributed an article on the work to New Scientist, comments that: Once I was aware of them, the rhythmic sounds of the sea seemed to somehow sync with the traffic as it stopped and started at the lights on the busy main road. … In the same way that we have come to view our urban environment as the mere surroundings in which we get things done, too easily we can also come to view other people as part of the street furniture in our daily grind.32

In this case the work acts to rupture space for de Lange, by bringing to her attention the typical behaviours of the everyday. A common thread connecting the above works is that each responds to traffic noise, albeit with different methodologies producing variant sonic textures. This is to be expected from installations that transform urban

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sounds, given the omnipresence of traffic in our global cities. One practitioner who offers a potentially different approach to urban noise transformation is Agostino Di Scipio, a notable composer and researcher based at the Naples Conservatory of Music, who developed the method of Audible Ecosystemics. His method uses a carefully controlled feedback system with microphones, computer and speakers to create a sense of play between bodies, space and sound-making infrastructure. Although Di Scipio’s work is more focused on concert-hall performances involving musicians and multi-speaker arrays, he has also completed sound installations using this method.33 As discussed (Chapter 1) Di Scipio is critical of the term soundscape, concerned that it reduces sound to the documentation of private experiences, which in turn reduces sound to ‘separation and representation’.34 He writes, ‘I don’t think of them [Audible Ecosystems] as “soundscape” works at all, they mostly lean on the local background noise, so they are site-specific, and not representative of “soundscape”.’35 As discussed, the term soundscape has been retained in the present study due to its political currency and relevance to broader soundscape design programmes. Despite this difference, Di Scipio’s comments remain consistent with the transformation rupture approach, which seeks to transform site-specific sounds. Di Scipio’s reference to noise demonstrates the possible utilization of his system in the establishment of urban-based rupture points: ‘Noise is the medium itself where a sound-generating system is situated, strictly speaking, its ambience. … Noise is a necessary element, crucial for a coherent, but flexible and dynamical behaviour to emerge’ (Di Scipio 2003: 271). Surely Di Scipio has prescribed for us a method for transforming urban noise. Audible Ecosystemics presents a possible approach to the development of a network of rupture points throughout cities by installing feedback systems that reshape sonic space, through the augmentation of existing environmental conditions. That our bodies can shape the sonic space that is generated in Di Scipio’s audible ecosystemics demonstrates the system’s dynamic capacity to interconnect our gestures and speech with the unfolding events it generates. Carefully located ‘audible ecosystemic sonic architectures’, using site-specific noises as its generative material, could be a powerful soundscape design method for creating places of play, contemplation and curiosity throughout global cities.


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Disclosure Disclosure is the approach that reveals the complexity of the urban environment, which is typically hidden by the dominating sounds of the everyday. The sonic practitioner who enters into a deeper listening relationship with space uncovers what is present, yet is missed in our everyday existence. Through this relationship, the practitioner reveals the unheard utterances of a space and brings them to the attention of passers-by. This approach, more than any other, reveals that while the functionalist imperatives that shape behaviours in the everyday are dominant, their real power lies in the capacity to distract perceptions from the nuances and complexity which linger, unrealized, in the ever-diminishing pockets and shadows of city life. Disclosure is the approach that most champions the existing sounds of the city. It both maps and reveals sonic complexities that are integrated into the creation of installations, which speak to us with nuanced and mysterious voices. The disclosure approach was discovered via the work Mediumistic. While working with mediums in the musty atmosphere of an ex-convent, the stories of forgotten inhabitants were revealed. Regardless of the legitimacy of a clairvoyant’s claims, the poetics of the act is captivating. Bringing to life the mysterious atmospheres of ancient buildings via the narratives of affected mediums provides us with new and enchanting means with which to interact with space. The interviews inspired the sound design in which distinct creaks of stairs and floorboards, and the reverberant slamming of heavy doors came to inform the sonic ambience in the locations where the mediums’ stories were traced. Heard through headphones, at just the right volume, the recordings integrated with, thereby revealing, both the unusual feelings elicited by the space and the sounds that the listeners themselves generated through their movements. 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.

Disclosure precedents Mixing clairvoyance and art is not new. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Anne Walsh and Chris Kubick completed the work Art After Death between

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2001 and 2005. The artists invited mediums to speak with dead artists in front of their artworks. In an online interview, Kubick explains that ‘the general consensus is: there are always spirits around, if you know how to look for them. The mediums we work with are simply that – people who know how to look for spirits, and are able to speak their language.’36 Walsh and Kubick set about creating an alternative mode of exploring art history. Kubick comments ‘Art history – or any kind of history, really – is rarely acknowledged for what it is, which is a form of storytelling. History asserts truths and then builds from those truths … is interviewing a dead person really any more absurd than any other form of historical conjecture?’ Interviewing mediums opens a rather eccentric but fruitful manner for disclosing stories in what might otherwise be uneventful spaces. Imagine QR codes scattered throughout the city in which we could tune into a medium’s story that took place in situ. Walsh and Kubick’s work is a refreshing take on connecting with our past. Of course, communicating with mediums to disclose narratives is not going to be everyone’s liking. There are more decipherable means of disclosing secrets. Christina Kubisch’s Electrical Walks continue the artist’s long time use37 of headphones and electromagnetic fields to produce unique auditory experiences. Electrical Walks asks the listener to wear specially modified headphones and walk through the city to listen to the electromagnetic fields amplified and made audible through the headphones. Multiple objects  – light systems, anti-theft security devices, surveillance cameras, cell phones, computers, ATM machines, etc. – are continuously transmitting electromagnetic waves. Electrical Walks brings to our attention the wide reach of these sounds. Existing everywhere, yet typically hidden, they are made audible by Kubisch’s headphones and her listeners’ intentions. A sense of other worlds that exist in the now are revealed by this work. Salomé Voegelin (2014) in Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound, writes, ‘her work is political, revealing the invisible dynamic that facilitates and determines our movements on the visible surface of the world … it makes accessible and imaginable what we cannot hear … opening us to what before we did not know was there’ (p.  160). Kubisch discloses hidden sounds, which suggest an ongoing orchestra of the inaudible operating beneath the fabric of the everyday: scores of functional apparatuses are brought to our perception.


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A comparative work is Toshiya Tsunoda and Haco’s Tram Vibration Project,38 which has been performed internationally. Commuters wear specially installed headphones through which they can hear the solid vibrations of the tram, which are captured by a piezon-ceramic sensor and stethoscope, and the trams electromagnetic sounds, which are captured by inductive microphones. In so doing, the typically inaudible sounds of the tram are brought to our attention. Tsunoda and Haco’s work deals with both vibrations and electromagnetics to create a real-time performance disclosing sounds that passengers are typically unaware of. Another approach to revealing the sounds of solid objects is the transduction of architectures. To transduce architectures, large enclosed pistons are adhered to structures (frames and surfaces) that are set in motion by an audio feed. The seeming solidity of the built environment is challenged when one hears it vibrate. A strangely meditative encounter is evoked with the low-frequency rumbles being both felt by the body and heard by the ears. It casts the seeming fixity of the everyday as an illusion and discloses the vulnerability and malleability of the city’s materiality. Transduction encourages us to embrace the city and push our ears against its surfaces: the body is caressed. There are a number of artists working with this technology. In Melbourne, sound artist Eliot Palmer, who has presented his transduced architectures internationally,39 resonated a multi-level metal stairwell at RMIT ’s 2013 Liquid Architecture Sound Art Festival in Melbourne. The stairwell suddenly felt like a living object as it shook bodies and spoke with rattling intonations. City structures could be permanently transduced, disclosing the meditative potential of humming objects. Akio Suzuki’s oto-date may more appropriately be included in the transformation discussion above, as his ongoing project serves, like many soundwalking activities, to transform our perception of everyday sounds. However, it is included in the disclosure approach, as oto-date asks us to tune into typically unheard sounds that Suzuki has discovered in his own listening journeys. The sound artist offers us this gift, with a simple gesture: he paints a pair of feet shaped like ears on the ground, and asks us to stand and listen to the sonic particularities he has perceived. It is a call to stop and sink into the auditory moment. The work discloses typically ignored sounds that suggest our world – urban and otherwise – is replete with mysteries, if we only care to

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listen. This discussion finishes with Suzuki as he teaches us that technological intervention is not necessary for us to deeply connect with space. It is a gesture comprehensible to all that see it: regardless of title or expertise, we share the common ability to listen and thus perceive diverse sonic moments (this includes the deaf, who feel sound and sense its vibrations).40 The oto-date symbol creates an eddy within the flows of the everyday by asking the listener to manifest new affects by being still, and tuning into a sonic city often ignored due to the functionalist demands of everyday life.

Future approaches The five approaches and ten intentions are not intended to be exhaustive. What the existing model suggests are ways in which the creative practitioner might approach space when considering an intervention to produce a rupture point. The model is constantly evolving. For instance, other approaches being explored at the time of writing include: rhythm, an essential consideration, as city rhythms are ubiquitous (train tracks, traffic crossing signals, daily repetition) and therefore ripe for creative intervention; and ephemerality, which encourages cross-disciplinary collaborations to construct temporary, ephemeral structures from sound, light, smell and air. Indeed, another practitioner may well develop a different series of approaches depending on their own creative research activities. The sonic rupture model, and its approaches and intentions, contributes to existing lexicons and studies that articulate ways urban soundscape design should be approached in our future cities. The WSP and CRESSON have left powerful lexicons of practical and conceptual terms with which to understand urban sounds: respectively, the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology and Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds. Furthermore, there are multiple practitioners and theorists, as discussed in this chapter, who are exploring relationships between sound and society. The sonic rupture model adds to this discussion by presenting an assemblage of practitioner-centred urban soundscape design approaches, which foregrounds the relationship between creative practitioner and environment. It is from this relationship that an installation is created that ruptures space, and thus momentarily disturbs functionalism for the emergence of differences. A series of predetermined ruptures by a central authority will not suffice; the resulting


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apparatus would immediately conform to dominant forces, and thus reduce sound installations to the banal. The soundscape design programme promoted here is for the establishment of a network of rupture points that are born of practice, so that diverse experiences and environments might occur. The myriad examples explored in this chapter serve to guide the reflections and practices of a sonic practitioner who wishes to apply the discussed approaches. The ideas of the creative practitioners mentioned here are not necessarily provided so that we may copy them (though it would be encouraging to see some of these ideas applied; as mentioned, Harmonic Bridge has a place in many underpasses). Rather, they should serve to catalyse the practitioner’s imagination. The hope is that we can challenge functionalism with rupture points that release surges of affective potential, to create an urban crust that expresses the diversity of the affective earth.

Notes 1 For example, the work Subterranean Voices, which informs the transformation approach, produced an imaginative rupture in a number of audience members. And the work Revoicing the Striated Soundscape, which informs the addition approach, created an evocative rupture in many of those who encountered the work. The number of rupture types is unlimited. Those included in the model reflect only the experiences of a small number of people who encountered the discussed installations and conveyed their experiences. 2 At the time of writing, I was made aware of a recent edition of Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts entitled ‘On Rupture’. This edition includes a number of articles exploring visual artworks that challenge the political hegemony of neo-liberalism. See Eckersall and Grehan (2014) for further discussion. 3 For further discussion on the Gallerain shopping centre installation, see Hellström (2011). 4 See Harvey (2009) and Harvey (2013) for a detailed overview. 5 Interestingly, on the other side of Melbourne’s Yarra River is the ‘Signal’ soundscape system. This continues to be operational, largely I suspect, due to its location in a transitional space that contains no adjoining businesses. See http:// SignalSoundWalk.aspx (accessed 9 April 2015).

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6 At the time of writing there were two other operational wave-activated sounding sculptures. The Wave Organ (1986), situated in San Francisco Bay, was conceived by Peter Richards who installed the work with sculptor George Gonzales. The High Tide Organ (2002), situated in Blackpool, U.K., was designed by Liam Curtis and John Gooding. 7 For more information, see: (accessed 6 November 2015). 8 For more information see: (accessed 6 November 2015). 9 For an image of the work see: (accessed 6 November 2015). 10 For comprehensive documentation see: (accessed 6 November 2015). 11 See Chapter 18 of The Soundscape: the Tuning of the World (Schafer 1977). 12 The second half of Truax’s book Acoustic Communication (2001) considers these questions. 13 Max Neuhaus: Long-Term View (n.d.) Dia Art Foundation. Available online: (accessed 9 August 2015). 14 As an aside, meditation might be considered the ultimate act of subtraction – the temporary removal of self-agency as the body sinks deeply into the immediate moment. 15 ‘Zumthor Zen Comes to Town’ (2011), Architecture Record, 199 (8), August: 24. For further discussion on Zumthor’s attitudes towards noise see Heathcote (2011). 16 ‘Zumthor unplugged at launch of Serpentine Gallery Pavilion’ (2011), The Architectural Review, 228 (1374), August: 25. 17 Ibid. 18 See Bostwick (2012) for more information. 19 See Jim Green’s personal website: (accessed 20 July 2015). 20 Giant Theramin Project (2011), [radio] ABC, 9 December. Available online: (accessed 20 July 2015). 21 See Franinovic and Visell (2004) for a discussion of both works. 22 Philipsz has played similar works in city streets (Surround Me 2010–11) that also resonate due to the locations’ high bricked walls. 23 H. Westerkamp, ‘Soundwalking as ecological practice’, The West Meets the East in Acoustic Ecology, Proceedings for the International Conference on Acoustic


Sonic Rupture Ecology, 2-4 November 2006 (Hirosaki, Japan: Hirosaki University, 2006). Available online: pages/soundasecology2.html (accessed 10 November 2015).

24 A copy of Westerkamp’s presentation has been uploaded to the web. A sound sample can be found at the twenty-seven-minute mark from the following link: (accessed 20 July 2015). 25 Ibid., twenty-seven-minute mark: (accessed 20 July 2015). 26 Visit the following link for excellent sonic and visual documentation of the work created by the artists: (accessed 6 November 2015). 27 See for an example of sounds and commentary on the installation (accessed 20 July 2015). 28 Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger (2010), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Available online: php?id=150 (accessed 9 August 2015). 29 For images of the work see (accessed 27 October 2015). 30 Email correspondence (12 May 2015). 31 C. De Lande (2011), ‘Life’s a beach, or sounds like it at least’, New Scientist, September. Available online: culturelab/2011/09/lifes-a-beach-or-sounds-like-it-at-least.html (accessed 9 August 2015). [The opening moments of this news report contain audio that demonstrates the capacity of mixed sounds to create a transformed effect]. 32 Ibid. 33 For example, at the 2013 Music & Ecologies conference at University Paris 8 Di Scipio set up a network of live guitars and amplifiers, the feedback of which was controlled by a computer system. Bodies present in the room could be heard to reshape the sonic space generated by the installation. See Agostino Di Scipio (2014) for images of the work. 34 Ibid., 12. 35 Email correspondence (19 February 2014). 36 G. Porter (2001), Art After Death, Log, Issue 14. Available online: http:// (accessed 8 August 2015). 37 One of the first sound artworks I experienced was Christina Kubisch’s Oasis 2000: Music for a Concrete Jungle, which was part of the Sonic Boom exhibition

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curated by David Toop at the Hayward Gallery in London. The work consisted of the audience wearing magnetic headphones and walking beneath magnetic induction cables that sent a signal to the headphones. While looking over London animal and natural sounds could be listened to. 38 See artist website (accessed 16 July 2015). 39 See the artist’s website, more information (accessed 16 July 2015). 40 For instance, research by ‘Dean Shibata, reported at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, shows that Beethoven and other deaf people perceive sound through skin vibration, and that this “vibrationperception” involves the primary auditory cortex, the same brain area that is responsible for ordinary hearing … (which) helps to explain how the deaf can still enjoy music’ (Yang 2002: 67–8).


Sonic Rupture dreams of future cities that might begin to hum as the Earth has always hummed. It has been argued that by concealing the Earth’s surfaces with a homogenous urban crust, we reduce our capacity to experience the full range of affective potential expressed by the Earth. We might say that the Earth’s affective potential is always at maximum capacity, which explains its diverse evolutions. However, in cities, its possible expressions are reduced to accelerate the progression of specific events. This creates a seductive pace of transition, the blur of which conceals the breadth of possible affects that human society might otherwise experience. Fixed structures that manage behaviours risk stultifying the reach of human creativity; it is the dynamism of relationships and interconnections that give rise to new ways of knowing the world. Reclaiming the Earth that bore us, within our everyday lives, is equivalent to sensing meaningful connections with the world in which we live and the social body to which we belong. No one is able to say what this meaningful connection should be; it is shaped by what emerges as affective experience. But what we can begin to do is design our cities so that diverse environments reach into the social body and ask ‘how should life be expressed?’ rather than perpetuating the affects of functionalisms that determine how life is, and will be, expressed. Whether or not soundscapes have the capacity to affect diverse creative responses depends on their variability. In our cities, where everyday life has been reduced to the fulfilment of certain functions, the soundscape has come to reflect equivalently reductive environmental conditions. The whirr of climate controllers and hum of traffic, the yammering of construction sites and screeching of sirens are the expressions of a specific set of functional parameters to which social life must succumb. Judging these sonic expressions as negative provides no solution to the problems that these everyday realties present us. After all, functional environments serve us well in certain ways;


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there is comfort in the predictability they provide. Yet room needs to be made for creative expression in the everyday so that we do not become stifled by routine. Accordingly, urban noise has been reassessed, within the context of a creative practice research process, as a reservoir of potential from which new environments and experiential diversities can unfold. Modifying the sound environment to reintroduce diversity into our everyday lives has been the focus of this book. However, the sonic rupture model would become even more effective as a design tool if integrated within an interdisciplinary, practitioner-led program. The suggested range of approaches for the reshaping of the sonic city would be greatly augmented if integrated into efforts to rupture multiple mediums. For example, other ephemeral qualities like air, light and smell could interweave with sound to rupture cities in ever more diverse and intriguing ways. For such programmes to work, the cooperation of urban planners and developers will be required. Urban planning and development that works towards the efficient functioning of our cities should also embrace approaches that work towards the diversification of its creative affordances. For this reason a pragmatic voice has been maintained as much as possible, as the rupture must find its place within the language of functionalism. The rupture does not intend to discard functional imperatives; it intends to enter into a relationship, a kind of dance, with these structures so that bursts of human creativity become as important as the systemic patterns that arrange everyday life. Although contemporary society is affected by the structured urban environments that house it, the common source of both cannot be escaped: the land beneath our feet. Everything unfolds from this affective earth, including our own creations. But surrendering our creativity entirely to the workings of our cities (automation) risks locking everyday life into a self-perpetuating cycle of changeless recapitulation. Reconnecting with the affective earth opens our cities to diverse emergences, which will go some way to reinvigorating our imaginative life. It has been argued in this book that our imaginative life is integral to our social health and well-being. Perhaps we could think of a network of sonic ruptures as a radical form of preventative health that reduces the prevalence of anxiety, loneliness and isolation. For discussions of social health and well-being should not be reduced to discussions of stress levels and



relief via moments of relaxation. Designing for social health and well-being also means the affordance of dreamings, embedding creative encounters, encouraging people to walk, play, explore, engage and wonder. This is something sonic practitioners already achieve the world over. But the contemporary challenge is to integrate creative works into the design of everyday urban life. Urban planners, developers and creative practitioners working together can reimagine cities as sites that simultaneously provide for our daily needs, and enable the possibility for imaginative evocations. By creating ‘new natures’ in urban spaces, we might once more reclaim the creativity of the affective earth in our everyday lives – future dreamings rediscovering indigenous connections with the ‘spirit of the land’, actualized as those augmenting affects expressed through the invigorated social body. This book has sought to strike a balance between the pragmatic and the esoteric. Pragmatic terminologies are required when working with government agencies and industries, an entry point that allows creative practitioners to integrate their own skills with urban infrastructures. Approaching government agencies and industry with a language to which they can relate is integral to the intertwining of the creative and the functional. Terms such as soundscape and nature might remain contentious in academic circles, but they hold sway as common-sense applications, and as such, can help the practitioner to translate their message. For instance, a city bureaucrat is more likely to be convinced by a proposal that seeks to ‘design soundscapes that reflect the benefits of nature’ than one that seeks to ‘rupture sonic ecologies to expand the range of affective potential in the urban crust’! Couching complexities in accessible language is a pragmatic tool that can work in favour of creative practice. Language complexities can serve to inspire the practitioner into new forms of action (practical and conceptual) but their bridging into pragmatic worlds requires a dilution of the vernacular, though not, if possible, the concomitant creative act. Once these practical relationships have been secured, the practitioner can then set about embedding their works in the everyday. There is no reason to assume that developers and governments would not welcome these changes to their own practices. The challenge for us as creative practitioners is to convince them on how our efforts can augment their own, without the skills of the practitioner (artist) becoming yet another tool for the


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capitalist exploitation of social relations. One possible entry point, referred to throughout this book, is a growing awareness that feelings of interconnection are integral to our health and well-being. Creative practitioners working in the public realm are well placed to make a contribution to this emerging consciousness. Embedding creative works at the beginning of the life cycle of design and development could enhance feelings of social inclusion. For example, sites that afford possibilities for collective acts of creative expression, outside of social programming, may come to engender unique meanings for communities. Artists entering the conversation after the fact, via public art programming, do little to relieve the demands of city life. These are bandaid solutions applied to urban developments that have neglected the social dimension. If cities are to grow as creative entities then artists must be plugged in at the beginning of the decision-making process. To appropriate contemporary management-speak (somewhat hesitantly) the recognition of an invaluable human resource – the creative practitioner – is presently being ignored. Plugging creatives, who consider relationships, belonging and connection, into initial design and planning programmes will ensure that future cities have social health and well-being solutions woven into their very fabric. Finding ways to embed practice-led approaches within urban planning can go some way to achieving this. For instance, this might require dialogue between public art and urban planning departments, whereby artists are sourced to develop ideas for creative works within highly localized zones (rupture points) before any on-the-ground work has begun. If we are serious about forming creative cities, then surely this type of thinking must be embraced. The language of affect reminds us that existence is an expression of creativity, what I have termed the ‘creative press’, which is constantly shaping the real. The creative practitioner is well-qualified to interface with this creative press, and to diversify its unfoldings. What indigenous peoples the world over were able to achieve, and which is seemingly inaccessible to the alienated lives of contemporary humans, is seamless integration with the land: imaginative mergings with the ground beneath their feet. Our city is our home, and as such should nourish similar imaginations and joys. Escaping to the outer reaches of our cities, perhaps seeking meaning in ancient remnants protected by wilderness areas and nature parks, propagates an image of our



cities as being insufficient to our needs. The challenge is to find ways in which those meaningful moments, that the ancient remnants of the affective earth provides us, may be encountered across the urban crust. Ruptures, as points of replenishment, restoration and invigoration, have the capacity to locate our emotional and imaginative lives as an essential expression of the city. To this end, in creating ruptures, creative practitioners become the interface that connects the city and its people. The sonic rupture enables an imaginative geyser to erupt out of the urban crust, such that the potential for diverse experience surges forth. In rupture, life temporarily exceeds the function that currently shapes us. Rupture flushes our bodies with affect, reminding us that we, as coagulated points of affective potential, like the cities we have built, are part of the creative continuum of our dynamic planet. It is pointless to imagine that the world will become ‘function-less’; indeed, those of us who enjoy the comforts and predictability of city life would no doubt recoil at such a suggestion. Instead, networking creative encounters across the urban requires working with functional agents to ensure the imaginative becomes as essential to the urban crust as its normative expressions. Reconnecting with the land, or actualizing the ‘spirit of the land’, begins with the relationships we forge with one another, and the environments in which we are actively immersed. To avoid becoming automatons or, eventually, discarded units of the functioning city, we should remind ourselves that we are part of the telling of the urban story – narrators of the affective earth – and not just passive receptors of affective forces that diminish its possible expressions. The sonic rupture model presents ways we might begin to encourage diverse becomings and interrelationships in the evolving ecologies of the urban. By rupturing the urban crust, affect washes through social bodies evoking creative responses that sweep away those feelings of banality and alienation, which are symptomatic of the constricted expressions of the urban crust. The limitless creativity of the affective earth lies just beneath the surface, and in its rupturing the sonic practitioner enables new worlds, and their dreamings, to arise.

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Index a-signifying rupture 14, 16, 16 n.15, 17 Ableton Live 88, 90, 91, 93, 112, 114, 115, 119 Aboriginal Australia 5, 5 n.3, 5 n.5, 52 n.8 acousmatic 105 n.26, 107 acoustic design. See urban soundscape design acoustic ecology 7–9, 28, 31, 36, 49 and biophilia 55 concert-based aesthetic 54 (See also soundscape composition) definition 28 n.10, 29 mythic 30, 30 n.12, 33 and Romanticism 57 and science 53, 54 ur-sound 30 acoustic horizon 8, 15, 77, 77 n.11, 78, 121 affect 2–7, 2 n.2, 34, 50, 51, 53, 61, 69, 80, 175 and acoustic ecology 8 as creative press 178 (See also creative press) and the ecology of fear 38 emotive 3, 6–7, 111 and functionalist imperatives 14, 16, 26, 161, 175 and intervention 38, 153 meditative 121–2, 169 pre-personal 3–5 sonic 6, 32, 36–7, 82 sonic rupture model 141 as substance 5, 179 affective atmosphere 121, 130, 157. See also affective environment affective earth 2, 9, 10, 55, 60, 62, 58 n.23, 150, 170, 176–9. See also nature and acoustic ecology 59 definition 50–2

affective environment 3, 9, 34, 38, 56, 122, 160. See also affective atmosphere affective politics 2, 15, 27, 35, 40–2, 62 n.27 as activism 41 affective potential 9, 10, 15, 34, 41, 49–52, 60, 69, 170, 176–9 and activism 14 and graffiti 101 affective sonic ecology 27, 33–5, 39, 84, 145 air-conditioners 31, 35, 74–6, 83, 107, 115, 123, 145, 155. See also noise source compositions 85–7, 92–5 installation 96–8 anamnesis effect 17 n.21, 156 anthropocene 51 n.5 Arendt, H. 11, 12, 62 n.28 atmosphere. See affective atmosphere Attali, J. 35 audible ecosystemics 165 AudioFinder 88, 90–1 Auinger, S. 162 Bašić, N. 153 Bauman Lyons Architects 163 Benterrak, K. 13, 52 n.8. See also Aboriginal Australia Bhatnagar, R. 154 Bielecki, B. 153 biophilia 49, 53, 55, 55 n.20, 57, 59 biophilic design 55 Blesser, B. 62 n.26 Bull, M. 31 n.13, 36, 79, 79 n.14, 80 n.16 capitalism 13–14, 61 and affect 14 n.13 Carpenter, E. viii, 52 n.8

190 Center for research on sonic space and urban environment 21, 36–7, 156, 169 Chesworth, D. 152 City of Melbourne 27, 33, 73, 83, 95, 101, 151, 154 and graffiti 102–3 clairvoyance. See mediums Clastres, P. 12, 13, 52 n.7 Cox, C. 2, 29, 30, 71 n.1 Craenen, P. 153, 154 creative practice research ix, 4, 9, 18, 19, 20–1, 40, 71, 128, 132–3. See also practice-led research and noise 176 project work 83, 85, 105, 122 sonic rupture model 147–8 creative press 5–7, 41, 178. See also affective potential CRESSON. See Center for research on sonic space and urban environment Cronon, W. 57, 58 dark ecology 58 n.23 de Certeau, M. 11, 26 n.1 Deleuze, G. 3, 4, 5, 12, 40, 41 Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 51, 81 deep listening 116, 120, 166 Dia Art Foundation 156 Di Scipio, A. 29, 31, 165 dreamings 5, 13, 21, 34, 50–1, 52, 63, 161, 175–9. See also mythology drone 74–8, 90, 108, 145, 154 ear cleaning 77 Earth. See affective earth ecology of fear 2, 29, 38 ecology of vibrational affects 6, 29, 32, 37 ecosophy 16 entrainment 101 n.21 ethics 3, 4, 41, 80 EU. See European Union European Union 27, 33 experience design 10, 41, 42, 146

Index Federation Bells 154 filtration effect 78 n.12 foley 126 Fontana, B. 164 Fox, R. 159, 160 Franinovic, K. 159, 160 Frayne, N. 152 functionalist imperative 2, 9, 52 definition 10–15 everyday 26, 42, 166 power 80, 149 and rhythmanalysis 15 n.14 sonic expression 35, 38 n.25 and sonic rupture 16–17 and urban crust 51 Garden of Sonic Delights 153 ghost 82, 129, 130 Gilbert, L. 152 Gilmore, J. 11 global cities 9, 13, 16, 26, 51, 60, 76, 165. See also urban crust creative encounters 3 functionalized 2, 10, 12 as new natures 144 and repetition 49, 52 Goines, L. 54 Goodman, S. 2, 6, 29, 30, 36, 37, 38 graffiti 101–3, 105 and entrainment 101 n.21 Green, J. 158, 160 Gregg, M. 2 n.2 Grosz, E. 2, 40, 40 n.29, 50 n.2, 61 Guattari, F. 13, 14, 16, 17 Haco 168 Hagler, L. 54 Hainge, G. 2, 29, 30 Harmonic Bridge 162, 170 Harvey, L. viii, 152 Hasell, A. 154 health and well-being 2, 17, 33, 42 and imaginative life 19, 176–7 interconnection 178 and nature 60, 60 n.25 and noise pollution 27 Hellström, B. 29, 32, 151

Index Hodgkinson, T. 62–3 homogeneity 11, 12, 52. See also functionalist imperative and ecosophy 17 soundscapes 123, 148, 163 human displacement 49, 58–9 immanence 5, 39. See also Plane of Immanence Improv choir 162 indigenous culture 5, 12, 13, 19, 51–3, 58, 177–8. See also Aboriginal Australia Ingold, T. 28 n.8 interactive 73, 112, 117, 124, 126, 147, 158–60 interconnection. See health and wellbeing Interdisciplinary 37, 54, 176 International Standards Organization 27 ISO. See International Standards Organization joy. See creative press K2S Architects 75, 157 Kandinsky, W. W. 102 Klankenbos sound forest 153 Krause, B. 28 n.10, 54 n.18 Kubick, C. 131, 166–7 Kubisch, C. 167 Kuhn, H. P. 163 LaBelle, B. 11, 29, 30–1 Le Cylinder Sonore 150, 154 Lefebvre, H. 13, 14, 60–2, 79 Leitner, B. 150 Liquid Architecture Sound Art Festival 168 listening 32, 33, 36, 39, 77, 84, 100, 113, 119. See also deep listening and acoustic ecology 8, 53–4, 80 n.15 active participation 15, 31, 168 field work 2, 85, 87, 88, 99, 106–8, 116 installation 131, 153, 163 imaginative 117, 121–2 shamanism 62–3


soundwalking 161–2 complaints 27 n.3, 94, 103–5 withdrawn 16 n.18, 38 n.25 lo-fi-hi-fi soundscapes ix, 36, 80, 84 definition 73 n.5 and noise 38 n.25, 73 soundscape design tool 8 Lockwood, A. 153 Lopez, Francisco 105, 105 n.26 Lowlands Away 160 masking 74, 78, 79 informational 151 Mason, P. 14 Massumi, B. 2, 3, 4, 41, 50 n.1 McCartney, A. ix McLachlan, N. 154 McLuhan, M. viii, 34 n.17 medium 71, 105, 122, 128, 129–32, 165, 166, 167, 176 metaphysics 4 Metasynth 88, 89, 91, 93, 110, 112, 120 mood music 10, 11, 146, 149 Moore, S. 153, 154 Morton, T. 56–7, 58 motorized traffic 26, 35, 40, 74, 95, 99, 150, 151, 169, 175 and functionalist imperatives 10 installation 162–4 musicality. See process-of-musicality Muzak. See mood music myth 9, 10, 11, 54, 122. See also dreamings and acoustic ecology 7, 8, 30, 33, 33 n.15, 34 as affect 3, 160 and biophilia 55 indigenous 5, 12 nature 9–10, 49–51, 53–60, 73, 107, 151, 157, 178. See also affective earth networks 1, 9, 14 n.12, 15, 25, 29 installation 98, 104, 124, 163 laneway 74 power 80 of sonic ruptures 26–7, 35, 40, 41, 50, 52, 165, 170, 176, 179

192 Neuhaus, M. 71 n.1, 149, 150, 156 Neville Street Refurbishment 163 new natures 14, 60–2, 103, 144, 177 noise 36, 39, 60, 73, 148 and acoustic ecology 31, 75, 147 affective medium 2, 157, 176 anti-noise 7, 8, 30, 59 complaints 104, 149 functionalist imperative 11, 26, 35 and health 73 homogeneity 147 materiality 37–8 meditative potential 105, 122–3, 147, 161 music 159, 165 philosophy 29, 32, 69, 81–2 plurality 34, 35 pollution 27, 32, 36, 155 and power 35 removal 71, 76–81, 156–7 soundscape 9, 26, 36, 40, 100 soundscape design approach 121 sources 35, 40, 74, 162–4 noise design 31, 104 n.23 nomadology 12, 13 O’Sullivan, S. 1, 2, 3, 4, 14 Odland, B. 162 Oliveros, P. 116, 116 n.31 oto-date 168–9 Oudolf, P. 156 Palmer, E. 168 pantheism 3, 5 phenomenology viii, 3, 7, 29, 37, 80, 80 n.16 Philipsz, S. 160 Pine, B. 10 Plane of Immanence 4. See also immanence Positive Soundscape Project 8 n.7 postcapitalism practice-led research. See also creative practice research pragmatism process-of-musicality 31, 39–40, 62, 63, 85, 114, 144 PSP. See Positive Soundscape Project

Index QR code

131, 167

Reaper 88, 111 Redstrom, J. 80 n.16 repetition 11, 35, 61, 169 compositional 95, 158 everyday 13, 15, 16, 17, 40, 49, 52, 157 and functionalist imperatives 12 and noise 40 and rhythmanalysis 15 n.14 rhythm 101, 38, 158 compositional 86, 90, 92, 94, 95 and entrainment 101 n.21 environment 12, 84, 85, 87 urban 14, 163 shamanism 62 soundscape design approach 169 rhythmanalysis 15 n.14 romanticism 57 Russolo, L. 37 n.24 Salter, L. 62 n.26 Schafer, M. 53, 55, 59, 77, 154, 164 Schrimshaw, W. 6 science 4, 53, 54, 55, 59 sculpture 131 sound 152, 154 Sea Organ 152, 153, 154 second nature 60–1. See also new natures Seigworth, G. 2 n.2 Serpentine Pavillion 156 Serres, M. 11, 13, 30, 69 shamanism 33 n.15, 62–3 Singing Ringing Tree 152, 153, 154 site-of-respite 73, 75, 123, 133 Smith, B. 36 social body 7, 10, 26 everyday life 38 interconnected 3, 56, 175, 177 sonic affect. See affect sonic art. See sound art sonic rupture 25, 175 and acoustic ecology 8, 30, 36 as activism 15, 16, 17, 27, 40–2 and affect 2, 33, 37, 52, 179 definition 1 encounter 38, 39, 104–5 and Guattari 16

Index and health 176 installation 149 and process-of-musicality 62 and noise 26, 37, 38 networks (See networks of sonic ruptures) practice 11, 34, 58, 156 as sound installation x, 1 and urban sound studies 36 sonic rupture model 3, 8, 9, 61, 71, 80, 105, 133, 169, 176, 179 definition 141–7 soniferous garden 53, 154 sound art 30, 33, 36 n.22, 71 n.1, 105, 141, 149 practitioners 151, 154, 159, 163, 164, 168 sound installation 4, 25, 31, 34, 38, 71, 104, 157, 165 as encounter 1, 19–20 generative 165 non-electroacoustic 152, 154 preceding 111 as rupture 1, 15, 26, 39, 169–70 site-specific 101, 123, 149, 150, 151, 163 and sonic rupture model 144 sound inventory 86, 107 Sound Island 164 soundscape 2, 3, 10, 32–3, 73, 100. See also affective sonic ecology and acoustic ecology 73, 75, 154 criticisms 28–32, 165 (See also sonic tourism) definition 25, 27, 177 and experience design 41 and functionalist imperatives 35, 42 homogenous 62, 155 idealization 9, 15, 55 incidental 41 lo-fi-hi-fi. See lo-fi-hi-fi soundscapes noisy 6, 35, 39, 69, 161 personal 157 striated 81–2 system 91, 152 soundscape composition 8, 9, 31, 33, 53–4, 59, 91, 99 as sonic tourism 31


soundscape ecology 28, 54 space definition of 26 n.2 spatial sound design 114–18, 121 spectacle 100, 159 Spinoza, B. 3, 4, 5, 6, 41 spirit of the land 5–6, 116, 177, 179. See also pantheism Stevens, Q. 12 striated and smooth space 12, 50, 81 Suzuki, A. 168–9 Thompson, E. 37 n.24 Thrift, N. viii, 2, 41 Times Square installation 149, 156 Tonkin|Liu 152 Toop, D. 129, 167 n.37 Torigoe, K. 28 n.9 traffic. See motorized traffic Truax, B. 28, 36, 79, 154 Tsunoda, Toshiya 168 Turrell, J. 157 urban crust 6, 10, 54, 58, 69, 101, 170 and activism 179 lack of connection with 58, 175 definition 51–3 evolution of 59–60, 62, 103 and the imaginative 56, 144 and new natures 57 and sonic rupture 141 urban design 49, 55, 59, 60, 71, 141. See also urban soundscape design urban planning 176, 178 urban roar 69, 82. See also noise urban soundscape design 3, 26–7, 56, 73 and acoustic ecology 6–8, 54, 79 and activism 40 approaches 147 recent history of 36–7 and graffiti 103 intentions 144–7 virtual 4, 50 n.1. See also affect Vissel, Y. 159, 160 Voegelin, S. 33, 167 Walsh, A. 131, 166–7 Wave Organ 153 n.6

194 Westerkamp, H. 11, 30, 35, 161, 162 White Sound 164 WHO. See World Health Organization wilderness 57–9, 61, 155, 178 wilderness radio 164 Wilson, E. O. 55, 55 n.19

Index World Health Organization 27 World Soundscape Project vii, 7, 28, 29, 32, 36, 37, 53, 161, 169 WSP. See World Soundscape Project Zumthor, P.