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Entries in urban (7)


Spectrogram: Mislata

Edu Comelles is a Valencia-based sound designer, musician and curator. His works often make you aware of certain sociocultural elements, or your everyday surroundings.
For his latest project, Spectrogram: Mislata, Edu recorded the city of Mislata for a whole month. The resulting archive consisting of local urban, rural, social and cultural soundscapes was analyzed and turned into a spectrogram: a visualization of the spectral information in an audio-file.
By doing this, he makes the intangible heritage of Mislata visible without being very intrusive. The murals combine various spectrograms from different recordings. The image is full of details, complexities and graphic nuances. The murals are composed of parts of spectrograms of sounds from birds, cars, sirens, buses, church bells and all kinds of hums, hisses and roars that Edu found in the city of Mislata. Those textures, put together, form a portrait of the city and it’s inhabitants.
Sound art often takes time to immerse yourself in. Pieces in public space, even if they do tell a story about the neighborhood they’re in, can be an annoyance to the locals. By visualizing the soundscape, Spectrogram: Mislata blends in with the surroundings. The viewer can wonder about the sounds visualized on the mural at their own pace, when they pass it every day.



Chatty Maps

Since I’ve been interested in the influence of urban sound on our everyday life, I’ve come across lots of different projects and angles of looking or mapping the problem.
Chatty Maps particularly caught my interest. While most projects rely on great amounts of fieldwork, Chatty Maps makes use of social media data to construct sound maps. A very interesting approach.
Daniele Quercia and his collegues of Bell Labs in Cambridge, England analysed words that describe sound on social media to be able to give information on what the urban soundscape is like. Using a statistical analysis of peoples reactions to different sorts of urban sound, they drew up four broad categories: chaotic, calm, monotonous and vibrant. This way one can start to see what the city sounds like. The beaches in Barcelona are an ocean of calm and nature, for example, while there’s a lot more construction and traffic going on in the center of London.
This way they can start to map out the sounds in London, Madrid, New York, and Barcelona, and they hope to be able to inform the creation of restorative experiences in our increasingly urbanized world. Get an insight in the urban soundscapes of these cities on the website of Chatty Maps, or read the full paper for more information.

Forgotten Songs

When I first saw Forgotten Songs by Michael Thomas Hill, I was struck by the beauty of the image. Watching all those empty bird-cages hanging over the street I automatically start hearing the sound of birds in my head, even though it isn’t there. The image is so strong, the installation doesn’t need sound. I was slightly disappointed when I found out the artist doesn’t leave it up to our imagination - it actually does make sound. 

There is a message though: the fifty birds that can be heard in this installation in Sidney, used to live there. But habitat loss is credited as the biggest threat to bird survival. The birds that can be heard in Forgotten Songs were forced out of the city by European settlers. At night, the sounds change to those of nocturnal birds. 

Via My Modern Met


Urban Time Machine

“A three dimensional physical and aural mapping of conversations that occurred within the community of Providence, Rhode Island.” That’s the somewhat curious description of the concept for the Urban Time Machine sound installation. But whether you can still perceive these conversations or not, it’s an interesting idea and the result is quite impressive. At least when it comes to looks…

Urban Time Machine is a project by Joshua Lantzy, whose work is based around sound, design and architecture. For this project he collaborated with Benjamin Phillips. Have a look at his website for some other interesting projects. So, what does the Urban Sound Machine sound like? It’s like a never ending composition, which apparently doesn’t sound the same for at least 19 years:


A Balloon for Linz

I just came back from New York City, a place with an overwhelming sound, everywhere you go. And each location in a city like that has its own resonance, its own sonic identity. That’s hard to hear though if there is so much noise around it becomes a cacophony. But what if we could isolate this resonance and listen to the astonishing differences in the sound of urban spaces? 

Davide Tidoni did just that with A Balloon for Linz. Luckily Linz is not NYC, and he was able to find spots which were quiet enough to make a clear recording (using his nice helmet mount microphone). You might recognize the concept as Davide did something similar before.


The sound of a new decade

First of all: a wonderful 2010 to all readers of Everyday Listening! May this new year be an inspiring one! Next to entering a new year we are also at the beginning of a new decade. The 00’s are over, and the world is in a vibrant state.

The soundscape of the world around us is changing all the time. The world is like an instrument, and if we change the material the instrument is made of, we change its size or we tighten its strings, its sound will change accordingly.

Click to read more ...


Sound around you

Sound around you is a project by the University of Salford (UK). The goal of the project is to create a sound map of the UK as part of a new study into how sounds in our everyday environment make us feel.

To participate in the project you can record a sound clip with your mobile phone or portable recorder and send it to sound around you website, together with the answer to some questions about the recorded sounds.

An interesting attempt. I wonder if a person living in a busy and noisy city center feels as relaxed as a person living on the countryside. After analysis by 'acoustic scientists' significant findings will be reported on the website.