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Entries in public space (7)


Pietre Sonore


I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more sculptors making use of sound in their work. Even though Wikipedia has quite a list, it’s not something you run into very often. Also, most of the artists on the list have only made use of sound one, or only quite a few times in their career.

Pinuccio Sciola, a quite renowned Italian sculptor who sadly passed away two months ago, was one of those artists who used sound in his sculptures, and even performed them. Often called “the man who makes the rocks sing”, his most famous works are the Pietre Sonore, or the Sounding Stones: sculptures, often made of limestone, that he used to play with his hands or with small rocks.

His ideas on these sounding stones were quite spiritual: he believed that stones have a voice that has always been there, but he only helps to release it. His limestone sculptures for example make a sound of a “liquid quality” when played, because geologically seen limestone is just fossillized water. As if the memory of water was imprisoned inside the stone during glaciation. An interesting way of looking at the world which might be very abstract, but helps one to think about long timespans.

To the rational minds that are sceptical of his ideas, Sciola only had only one thing to say: “I want to remind those who are sceptical that all the information circulated today by computers and digital networks in the end is stored and elaborated using infinitesimal silicon crystals.”


Ode to the meeting of Miss van E. and Mister van C.

Jeroen Diepenmaat is a Dutch artist with a predilection for sound, living and working in Deventer, the Netherlands. His works in public space are quite compelling. With a recent release on esc.rec., “Drums for Eugène”, and sound installation “Ode to the meeting of Miss van E. and Mister van C.”, his works are more and more leaning towards sound art. Another example of this is “belcanto”, where bells ring when you cycle over tubes.

“Ode…” consists of 83 music boxes in a forest in Diepenveen in the Netherlands, all playing two notes when a cord is pulled. When multiple boxes are activated, the noted come together, creating a melody.

Just like two people can meet each other coincidentally, and can become inseparable. A nice idea, and a nice intervention in public space.


Klankenbos (Sound Forest)

In Neerpelt, a small town in the very north of Belgium on the border with the Netherlands, there’s the very unique Klankenbos (or Sound Forest). A public forest filled with sound art installations hidden between the trees, accessible to anyone for free any moment of the day. Something so unique, it’s strange we’ve never written an article about it here on Everyday Listening. Time to make up for that.

Made back in 2005 as a temporary sound art collection commissioned by Musica, the Belgian “impulse centre for music”, Klankenbos has since then become permanent and has been there for ten years already.

Pierre Berthet’s Houses of Sound: Two wires connect two huts on the banks of the Dommel. These are connected to exciters and tin can resonators in a network of wires among the trees around the installation. Inputs (mainly sine waves) transmitted through the exciters make the wires tremble, causing vibrations that create a buzzing resonance in the huts and cans.

With a few additions to the collection over the years, as well as the development of mobile installations, the Klankenbos is everything but a static collection. Just this year sound artist Laura Maes added an interactive sound-bench running on solar energy.

Staalplaat Soundsystem & LOLA landscape architect’s Composed Nature: Composed storms in the trees by washing machine motors, making the trees and it’s leaves shake.

Klankenbos does not only exist of installations in the physical realm: just recently artist Rozalie Hirs created Curvices, a musical grid that works with GPS tracking and can only be heard via a smartphone. Because the organization of Klankenbos is very aware that the forest is very important as well: it shouldn’t end up being a place of technology under some trees, and these technologies allow artists to put their own virtual sonic world over the actual one.

Erwin Stache’s Konversation: 12 mechanical plants conversating through signs and sounds.

On sunday the 18th of October Musica invites everyone to celebrate 10 years of Klankenbos with an afternoon with sound art, music, poetry and silence in the Klankenbos. Artists who will be present are Stijn Demeulenaere who will present his field-recordings of the past few years in a way fitting to the Klankenbos, Hans van Koolwijk in a performance with amateur musicians playing 65 helium-filled balloons, the robot orchestra of the Flemish organisation Logos who designed instruments for Aphex Twin, et cetera. They’ll be there presenting new work by young composers. Enough to see and hear!



Sterntaler is a sound installation made by the Berlin based collective hands on sound. Accompanying an exhibition of gold jewelry made by young designers from Berlin, they attempted to resemble the sound of gold dust.

The team placed 70 piezo disks on the window and walls of the exhibition space. Metallic sounds were played through these little speakers, creating a whispering invitation to passers by to enter the store. I love the subtlety of this installation. We don’t need heavy amps and subs all the time.


Job Field

Right now the earth is packed with snow in the Netherlands, but this picture was taken on a sunnier day. And even without hearing it this installation the image of Job Field inspires my imagination. A group of old-style telephone horns peak out of a field. 

Each of the telephone receivers of this sound installation - created by Benoit Maubrey - announces job openings in the earea. The job openings are downloaded from the internet and played ‘live’ through the installation. 


83,7 Kilo Ohm

German artist Erwin Stache created the interactive installation 83,7 Kilo Ohm. The installation is placed in public space, inviting passers-by to touch it, play with it and thus create their own sound and music with it. If more people touch the installation, they can also shake hands and touch each other to influence the sound. 

Each time two or more of the metal tubes are touched, the sound, playing from the speaker attached to the base, is triggered and manipulated. Some of the (more interesting, if you ask me) parts are more abstract, electronic sounding, while others are precomposed pieces of music a participant can ‘conduct’. 

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Sonorous Bench: Sound Art in Public Space

There is a small tunnel underneath the railroad in Amsterdam where sounds similar to dripping water come from the walls. The first time I passed it I did not notice it right away, as the sounds are not very loud. But then I realized the experience of passing through that tunnel was more pleasant than usual. I love these sonic surprises and I wish I would encounter more of them throughout the city. 

This Sonorous Bench created by Clint Davis, Jaime Oliver, Jacob Sudol and Chris Warren, all students at the San Diego’s music department of the University of California, is another great example of sound art in public space. Two transducers emit resonance frequencies of the bench, and make it sing. It is not too loud, just a nice, subtle addition to the urban soundscape.