Imaginary Spatial Sounds
Workshop for the Rice University Summer School in London organised by Flora Bowden and part of the Study Abroad programme in Social Science led by Donald Ostdiek, Associate Dean of Undergraduates Director, Policy Studies Program
In the early 20th century the industrial revolution changed the way people lived; in cities cars and lights took over the urban landscape, which became a melting pot of stimula that affected the human perception of space. Sound in particular was one of the elements responsible of redesigning how people engaged with space. New machines introduced sound as signal of communication with the environment (car for instance), with the effect of making people feel alien of their own space.
Beside machines the Industrial Revolution led to the emergence of other kinds of sounds: the protests of union movements occupying the streets, which intention was to make social problems tangible to politics, and the speeches delivered by totalitarian leaders, whose voices captured the attention and emotions of crowds populating the squares of 1920s and 1930s Europe. These events demonstrate that, likewise sound, politics achieves a similar grip in connecting/disconnecting people. Sound and politics share indeed many aspects, from triggering or mediating emotions; this is possible because of the mediation of a third element that makes them tangible and legible: space. Space is indeed the medium through which sound and politics are capable of modulating and influencing people’s social interactions through design.
The “Imaginary Spatial Sounds” workshop intends to focus on such aspect through the observation of people’s interactions in public space. In the workshop the political aspect takes the form of communication, ie the art of influencing people’s decisions and behaviour by means of located oral performances. Through the “observation” of human and environmental sound the workshop aims to design “Imaginary Spatial Sounds”, which will be created from the sound walk participants will take in 3 specific locations. Groups of participants will record 3 urban sounds (people + environment) per location which need to visualise how people’s communication and social interactions can change according to physical constrains. At the same time the sound walks will guide the participants’ experience, which audio observations and analysis will be the creative material they will use to generate the “Imaginary Spaces”, ie visual and audio collages that represents the group’s most relevant observations collected during the sound walk.
Sound Walk Locations:
Cafe in Clerckwell
Cafe in Granary Square
Parameters to map the groups’ observations.
Sense of Connection/Disconnection
The Imaginary Spaces designed by the students:
Designing Camouflage: the fictional presence of time and space through the eyes of a woman.
King’s College London, Department of English
Professor Clare Lees, Dr Joshua Davis
The workshop aims to design fictional identities of the unknown woman author of the poem “Wulf and Eadwacer”, by visiting two different locations which history belongs to two different epochs. By using storytelling and performance the identities of the fictional woman will be constructed through the particular historical information participants will associate to the actual physical space and a section of the poem that will be performed in the selected location. The venues’ history is key to design the the identity/story, as participants will articulate and reinterpret the poem by imagining who is the woman that wrote the poem in the specific time and space they selected. Participants won’t tell the audience the narrative they designed; they will perform it by using the poem, the selected location, their voice and body expression, which will act as media to communicate the fictional identity. Participants will emotionally engage with the space through the eyes of the fictional identity of their invention; the performance will help the audience see the location through the eyes of the woman the groups of participants designed by means of their physical experience.
Students performing at the LSE Campus, May 2017
The Sound of Copenhagen
Workshop for the Rice University Summer School in Copenhagen “Sense of Place” organised by
Dan Lockton & Flora Bowden (RCA)
Donald Ostdiek, Richard Johnson Larry Toups (Rice University)
The space of the city constitutes our everyday. We shape our life in relation to the neighbour we live, the one where we work, we travel, we meet friends and family and enjoy our time. Nonetheless the more we get used to the surrounding the more we get detached from the intricacy of its fabric (colour, texture, smell, noise, etc).
The “Sound of Copenhagen” is a urban investigation, which employs sound as medium to observe and design an experiential map of Copenhagen. By strolling through the space of the city participants will create a fictional character, which identity takes shape through the streets of the city. Sound is the medium that will tell the story. Urban space – its squares, streets, shops, landmarks, etc – will be described via the audio fictional/real experience of the character, which participant will performe in physical space. The outcome will be a single/collective sound map performed by geolocated sound. The soundtrack represent the journey performed by the character. The sound map of Copenhagen will be a collection of places, which represent the participants’ interactive experience of the city as seen under the lenses of the character’s journey. The journey of Copenhagen sound map will be “played” during the collective presentation of the individual soundtracks.
with Benjamin Koslowski and Jimmy Tidey
Meta Londoners’ tests the notion of hybrid topographies that span digital and physical space. The project will use narrative to (re)interpret and (re)present digital information across digital and physical space. By exploring modes of interaction and co-production, this project aims to connect bits of digital interaction with embodied experience and to develop innovative and playful ways to experience geographic data.
The project asks a series of questions: How can a Twitter-based fictional narrative reconstruct the experience of dwelling in the city? Which kind of textual, visual and tangible formats support the reading of data through narrative? And how might these shape or shift the experience of the city and of the digital streams of information that surround us, as they add to both?
Each group will imaginatively inhabit a part of London, playing out a fictional character’s story in that space through Twitter, observing and becoming part of the social media landscape. Groups will craft a range of maps (40x40cm) that act as props to support and embody that narrative, to be exhibited at the end of the week.