Sounds and Spaces Project

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For the sounds and spaces project the ideas and themes that I decided to look at would be on the sounds produced organically by nature as these seem to be so out of reach in this day and age as modern society continuously expands its city landscapes pushing nature further away from its natural source bringing a sort of imbalance between nature and cities.

City sounds like buses, trains, airplanes and other noisy mechanized transportation have become so predominant that these can be heard miles away from nature reserves.

The idea I had was to attempt to bring back the natural sounds of nature in a way they could still be appreciated by many people that work and live in the cities and don’t have the time to be physically present where they’re surrounded by nature.

Nature sounds in my opinion can have a positive effect on society in general if used sensibly. When people are out of reach of such nurturing sounds for long periods of time an imbalance to their well-being can be observed, hence why anti-social behavior can normally be observed in large cities.

“Sound Sense: Nurturing Healing Through Our Sensory Connections

By Sheila Patel, M.D.

“Medical Study Points to Healing Power of Music and Silence
Just as some kinds of sound, such as music, are thought to have healing properties, other persistent and annoying sounds (also known as noise) can have the opposite effect. Many of my patients have told me that the constant noises that pervade hospital wards hardly make for a calming, restorative environment. Most people find it hard to rest with the din of machines, televisions, carts, and gurneys humming, droning, and rattling around them.  This is especially true in the intensive care unit, where electrical beeps and alarms are constantly sounding. An interesting study published this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) speaks to the power of sound in our environment and how it can affect patients. The authors evaluated two groups of intensive care patients: one group listened to music they selected themselves, while the other group used noise-cancelling headphones to block out background noise. These two test groups were compared to a control group of intensive-care patients who received the usual care with no sound intervention.

The researchers found that the patients who listened to their own music, as well as the patients who blocked out noise with headphones, had less anxiety compared to the patients who had no intervention. More interesting, the patients who listened to music used less sedative medication compared to both the headphone-using group and the control group. This suggests that simply blocking out excess noise benefited all patients, and that there was a difference between simple noise reduction and listening to music.

Although the JAMA study was small and looked at a limited population, the results support the observations of ancient healers that stimuli entering our bodies – in this case, through our ears – can affect our physiology. These findings bring to light the importance of studying how sensory input affects healing. If inexpensive and safe interventions like decreasing noise or listening to music can help patients reduce anxiety and limit their need for sedative drugs, that’s a step forward in making hospitals the calming and restorative places we’d like them to be.”

Source: chopra.com

I would like to develop a project based on this idea, where it could benefit society at large and not just be viewed as a piece of art confined to a space like a museum or a gallery, but rather extended to other areas of society where people gather together and remain inside enclosed facilities for long periods of time, like restaurants, hotels or hospitals. I think nature sounds like the leaves of trees blowing in the wind, rain, ocean waves or birds chirping, could have calming effects on people helping them improve their well being by relieving them of too much overthinking and worry.

In other areas like shopping centers or supermarkets where most people are in a hurry and others just passing their time, different types of soundscapes could be experimented as to be tuned with the kind of ambiance people are gathered in.

Field recording

Critical reflection:

Although for this project which I named Open View, I ended up doing something quite different than what I had initially planned for due to certain circumstances and lack of experience which lead me to rethink my initial idea, I still have preference to natural sounds as to sounds that have had their natural structure changed with filters and effects.

Naturally, for the initial idea of field recording this would require more experimentation with high quality sound equipment and also be more knowledgeable in terms of not only the weather conditions but also geographically as these are important factors that can have a big impact on the desired outcome.

Before I delve into the area of field recording after having had some unsuccessful attempts at recording the waves of the ocean at Crosby beach as it was too windy and rainy, I decided to take steady steps to transition from simple sounds that are easily attainable to more complex sounds that require specific sound equipment and the necessary experience as to capture nature sounds with more clarity.

Contextual Research

Books:

Research done to the three sonic components, Geophony, Biophony and Anthrophony.

Geophony, which include all non-biological natural sounds like water, wind and earth,  Biophony all non-human sounds that emanate from an undisturbed habitat and Anthrophony, all human made sounds like music, electromechanical or theatre.

Reading done to some books I thought to be useful for this project as it had some in-depth understanding on sounds, noise, silence and soundscapes.

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Silence: In the age of noise

Noise: A Human history of sound and listening.

Listening to Noise and Silence: TOWARDS A PHILOSOPHY OF SOUND ART by Salomé Voegelin

The Universal Sense:

How hearing shapes the mind by Seth S. Horowitz.

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[The Tuning of the World] THE SOUNDSCAPE: Our Sonic Environment and the tuning of the world/R. Murray Schafer.

Online:

Researched online for some artists that served as the main source of inspiration for my project I must say that Haroon Mirza was one of the artists that inspired me as for the equipment I chose for my work after having visited the exhibition at the Ikon Gallery, and as for the sounds, Jez Riley French and Susan Philipsz would be the artists that I resonated the most with due to my interest in field recording and the recording of natural sounds without being edited or modified.

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Gathering Sounds With A Portable Audio Recorder (Tibetan Singing Bowls)

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Tibetan Singing Bell Bowls have been used as instruments for producing healing sounds by monks in Tibet for many centuries, in fact, it’s believed that the first singing bowls were made in Mesopotamia around five thousand years ago.

These mysterious objects have gained interest and much curiosity by western society when travelers managed to bring these along with them after having visited the Himalayas.

It’s also believed by some people that along with the different metals, legends say that meteorite iron would have also been used as one of the primary metals, being maybe one of the reasons the authentic Tibetan singing bowls produced such a unique sound. Tibetan monks state that they replicate the sound of the Void and of the Dharma and when striking and ringing these bells the positive healing vibration could have the power to undo the negative energy of those trying to destroy the world by restoring harmony brought about by the force of Dharma.

Although the manufacturing of the modern singing bowls only uses metals like copper and tin they can still produce a high-quality reverberation when struck.

These extraordinary sound healing instruments are now also largely used by sound healers and music therapists along with many yoga practitioners.

Personally I began using singing bowls to heal my headaches and now simply use them by meditating or contemplating on the sound. Monks also believed the sound of a good singing bowl not only affects the person who plays it but also the entire surrounding area and even to distances where the sound can no longer be physically heard.

Maybe due to my fascination with singing bowls I decided to base my project on the sounds generated by these “instruments” and therefore recorded some tracks from the three singing bowls I have.

After having collected some sounds I then began experimenting with adding some filters and editing these sounds with software recommended by our tutors called Reaper and later used an additional plugin called The Mangle to further add some sound effects.

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Gathering Ocean Wave Sounds With A Portable Audio Recorder 

Crosby Beach

Crosby Beach
Crosby Beach

sand storm

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Sculpture by Antony Gormleye

Crosby Beach
Crosby Beach

Sand storm and strong winds

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Crosby Beach

sand storm

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Sculptures by Antony Gormley are spread out along three kilometers of the foreshore on Crosby beach,  Another Place consists of one hundred cast-iron, life-size figures made from casts of the artist's own body standing still on the beach, looking out to sea, silently staring at the horizon.

This would be the third day experimenting with a portable audio recorder (Zoom H1n) where also I had the opportunity to visit Crosby Beach as to attempt to record natural sounds from the sea-side, even though having recorded some nature sounds from parks and from walking in the woods for the project I was looking to capture the soothing sound effects of waves on the beach.

After some attempts of recording sounds near the cost during the winter periods I decided to postpone this and try again later during spring or summer time as I struggled with the limited resources I had when recording the sounds of the waves at Crosby beach, it was unsuccessful because unfortunately the day I had available for the field recording was spoiled by the strong winds and rain brought about by Storm Gareth.

The wind was so strong it blew away the “cat-fur” from the audio recorder and obviously the sound didn’t have good quality.

Although I didn’t get the sounds I wanted I did get some great pictures from Crosby Beach taken in March 2019.

In August 2019 I decided to try again but this time I went to the beautiful Nature reserve in Holkham, Norfolk.

I finally succeeded in recording the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach and recorded some good videos.

Gathering Ocean Wave Sounds With A Portable Audio Recorder 

Holkham National Nature Reserve, Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk

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