Sound Spaces

The sounds of our everyday environment completely surround us; we could not close them out, even if wanted to. Unlike our other sensory organs, we cannot close our ears: we are always connected to the acoustic environment we are part of and which we are constantly at the mercy of. In our visual culture, people usually think about sound as a supplement to vision, when it is, in fact, the most important channel of information, which is open towards the outside world even when we are asleep. Complete silence is impossible in our natural environment, while our perception of sounds is almost never conscious; at least, it is only under the rarest of circumstances that we spend more than seconds on a sound. This, despite the fact that sounds can often convey complex moods and contexts, even spaces.

Our hearing enables us to get information about a space without seeing a given phenomenon, because it is something that is behind our back, a door or a wall. Each surface that bounds a space reflects sounds, which draw a subconscious image of the space. We try to exploit this phenomenon to map invisible but audible phenomena in spontaneous spaces. It is through sounds, among other things, that we can learn how these spaces are used, what goes on among and behind the containers and mountains of crates.

Space is a part of every sound, which, as soon as it leaves its source, acquires qualities of the space. Likewise, when a sound recording is made, the place is automatically encoded into the recording, but now we attempt to disentangle this apparently inseparable relationship. This way, we may be able to lift sounds out of their original environments, and separate them from their original source. The resulting sound elements will be, if not completely independent, certainly unique, and they will be classified according to their content, quality, time and space, and organised into a peculiar system. A new layer of abstraction will follow, when the sound samples will be carefully analysed and worked up, dissecting the subjective spatial experience into sounds, through analogue (re-recording the individual sounds) and digital (filtering out certain frequency ranges) means.

From the resulting independent sound material, an artificial sound space is built, in which the separated sounds are redistributed and recomposed in space and time. Our vision of this sound space is a vast sounding surface, the representation of a traditional Chinese musical instrument. Like a gong, this object will be able to make the sounds audible in an extremely wide spectrum, and the point is to have those great many (initially and apparently dissonant) sounds that ring simultaneously, and that represent and define spaces, flash a myriad of tiny experiences and images, which go on to resonate at least as long as the sound of the gong. Thanks to the size of the surface, the visitor's experience will depend greatly on his or her spatial position.


Pierre Foldes, Krisztián Kelner, Tamás Szakál