SOUNDS OF OUR CITIES
SOUND ART AND URBAN CONTEXT
City of Roeselare + Idensitat + Dear Hunter + Aalborg University / 2019 - 2021
SOUNDS OF OUR CITIES is a European project of cultural cooperation based upon research and the transfer of knowledge among the spheres of art, technology and social space. It is led by the City of Roeselare, Idensitat, Dear Hunter and Aalborg Universitet. The project focuses on two local contexts (Krottegem in Roeselare and Sant Andreu in Barcelona), as a critical reflection upon cultural identity in relation to the concepts of community and silence.
The objective is to activate sound art ideas in order to create a story that, from contemporary reality, deals with the concept of "silenced spaces". Taking recall and memory as its point of departure, the project aims to offer a fictional landscape upon which to project various realities, while opening up debate upon current issues.
The project begins with an open call that offers a residence to 10 artists (5 to Roeselare and 5 in Barcelona). Selected projects are developed within each city’s social context as well as through a residence. Within the framework of SoOC, various mediation activities are taking place throughout the chosen locations, and two exhibitions are to be held in each city.
The actions begin with the mapping of the Dutch collective Dear Hunter, which is in charge of drawing up social maps in each of the selected areas, which at the same time may be used by the artists who carry out interventions in Roeselare and Barcelona.
A group of students from Aalborg University design a digital application for various devices (phone, web and tablet), which, through augmented reality and sound, form connections between locations, personal experiences and artistic projects.
Idensitat is curating the artistic projects in the two cities, and, as part of its curatorial research, produces a sound archive called Voices, consisting of interviews, sound art projects and experimental narratives, which are collected in podcast format. Idensitat is also responsible for the exhibitions in the two cities.
Krottegem is a popular neighbourhood in Roeselare, situated in the east side of the city next to the railway station. The City of Roeselare decided to develop a plan of action called “Krachtgebied Krottegem” (Impulse Krottegem). Roeselare intends to approach the challenges in a positive way using the power of the neighbourhood, including inhabitants, local businesses and associations. For a few years local people have been taking initiatives to improve daily life in the neighbourhood. Initiatives were also taken to enhance the look and feel of the neighbourhood, organising cultural activities and community driven initiatives. From the City of Roeselare the idea of “The Sound of our Cities” as an art exhibition / festival fits into the Krottegem neighbourhood regeneration process. That this kind of activity can improve the image of the neighbourhood and the city in the wider region, and offers the possibility to attract new activities, investments and (creative) entrepreneurship.
Sant Andreu is a district in the northern part of Barcelona with an industrial tradition. The area's prosperity originally came from agriculture, owing to the water that irrigated the land along the banks of the Rec Comtal as it made its way from Montcada to Barcelona. In the 19th century, following the establishment of the textile industry, the centre of Sant Andreu was home to some of the most important factories of the day, including Fabra i Coats, La Maquinista, Fabricació Nacional de Colorants as well as a large number of smaller companies and workshops. In 1897, Sant Andreu was annexed by Barcelona along with other municipalities on the Barcelona plain, but to this day remains the former town with the strongest sense of identity. Sant Andreu nowadays is a modern and lively neighbourhood, with a growing population, new green spaces, a variety of community activities, preservation projects for heritage, and a modern take, understanding this heritage through culture, innovation and the encouragement of diversity. Idensitat has begun the groundwork in researching the area and initiating contact with local actors.
Artists and selected projects: Martí Madaula Esquirol, Banu Çiçek Tülü, John Grzinich, DAF and Marta Azparren & Pablo Martín Jones (Residency in Roeselare); Donia Jourabchi, Zsofia Szonja Illes, Raphael Daibert, In +dialog and Anne Fehres & Luke Conroy (Residency in Barcelona). The selection was made through an open call in which 155 proposals were submitted.
Each artist presents a work related to an environment or space, with the idea of amplifying and/or generating a new site, allowing us to imagine experiences that the architecture itself retains, invisible to the naked eye. We immerse ourselves in the now-fictitious realities in order to emerge, with the projects’ sound narrative, to the new "imagined cities" or "fictional realities" which are not so far distant from the cartographic locations whose reality and existence we take for granted. An opportunity to imagine the utopian or dystopian from elements of memory. In this case, it is sound which, through the element of surprise, compels us to generate a new image of a place which is so well-known and at the same time so hidden.
After the selection, the idea was to start with the artistic residencies in Roeselare in May 2020, due to the health situation this plan has had to be postponed until 2021.
The artistic residencies in Barcelona were planned for October 2020, and although the situation since May had improved, international travel was not possible for many artists, so we decided to change the concept of the residencies to allow each artist to choose to carry out their residency on site or remotely, responding to rules imposed for travelling in their country of origin, personal circumstances, and the nature of their projects. Thus, we presented a new schedule for the residencies and worked with each artist to update and find adaptations that responded to the new reality.
Anne and Luke - News From Home - Residency on site. From 22nd of October to 10th of November in Barcelona 2020
This project focuses on the memories contained within the urban environment of Sant Andreu, and to present these as 'audio postcards'.
When they travel with the ‘News From Home’ project to any particular location, the artists are interested in exploring beyond or in the shadows of the iconic landmarks. They believe that it is there that they can find a richness of stories, worth providing a platform for. To achieve this, they use the term soundmark (used in soundscape studies) to refer to a community sound which is unique, or which possesses qualities that make it especially regarded or noticed by the people in that community.
For 20 days of their residency, Anne and Luke were interested in exploring what exactly Sant Andreu’s soundmark is, and what the important components are of Barcelona’s phonic identity as a city. This time due to the COVID situation, the city was much quieter than usual, therefore typical soundmarks of the cityscape were perhaps not as recognisable at that time. While usually bars and restaurants spill open into the streets, then the doors remained shut. With far less people on the street, their attention was brought to bear upon the sounds of traffic and animals (mainly birds) around them. With the reduction of sound in the city streets, it became harder for them to grasp exactly what the soundmarks that would define the place for them were.
At this point, the artists wondered whether instead they should have been looking for the soundmarks which defined that time, in this strange period of curfews and isolation. Within a matter of years, this moment would pass, and the soundmarks of that moment would be of cultural and historical significance and would merit preservation and protection. Certainly they would speak to this moment in time, but would they be interesting in and of themselves - traffic and birds? Or what were they missing?
They decided to focus for this project on their own observations on the daily routines and memories of Sant Andreu. To achieve this, they used several new approaches to make local connections at a safe distance. There was space to experiment with new ideas and new possibilities. They started by defining the borders of the Sant Andreu district, and walked everyday for hours to get an overall impression of all of its seven neighbourhoods. At different times throughout the day, they made recordings of soundmarks that took their attention. Sometimes subtle, sometimes loud and disturbing. They named all these files according to particular locations and categorised them, building up a folder with different sounds in time and place. They wrote down daily notes to remember what they had heard and seen that day. Next to their observations, there was their online research, and through social media they made an open call to connect with the locals. They received great input from the locals, and with this information they built up a greater understanding of the sounds of the past.
For the exhibition, their objective is to create sonic postcards. With the sounds they have recorded, they will create surreal soundscapes that are connected to certain themes/stories that they found interesting during their residency in Sant Andreu.
Anne Fehres and Luke Conroy are Netherlands-based artists who have worked collaboratively since 2016. Anne graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Audiovisual Arts from the Royal Art Academy of Ghent, Belgium in 2013. Luke graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours from the University of Tasmania.Together, the duo focus on a variety of eclectic multidisciplinary projects that are grounded in research and exploration of social subjects, taking form through photography, digital art, sound, video, and installation.
Donia Jourabchi / Remote residency: Workshop as part of her residency – 2, 9 and 16 of December 2020
In the case of Donia Jourabchi, because she was unable to travel to Barcelona, we decided to realise the residency remotely. So we took advantage of the possibilities granted by the internet, and we launched an online workshop combining off-site exercises with online group meetings in which every participant might share their knowledge and experience.
The workshop was held on the 2nd, 9th and 16th. of December of 2020, with several one on one meetings in between.
Workshop with Donia Jourabchi
Urban exploration: Sonic experience and physicality of sound / Situated sonic practice / Acoustic territoriality.
The starting point of the workshop was to ask ourselves how we listen to a place, and what makes the experience of this place specific. Sound is a powerful tool that gives us a sense of place. Once a sound is located, it is experienced, it defines the space that we are listening to, as the moment in which it is taking place. Once captured it resonates with that place. The way we listen is composed of different levels of attention. According to a certain situation, we will develop different modes of listening. That means that listening is context-dependent, and that it is an active participation of our attention. In this urban exploration, we focus on the mediation between sound, body and space as a dynamic filter of physical properties into specific sonic qualities. The sounds we can hear and the sounds we make, as well as the recorders, microphones and loudspeakers are in this case the means to articulate the effects of sound in space.
During this workshop, participants developed artwork that defined their own expression of site-specificity when exploring an abandoned place of their own choice in their own city. After an introduction that provided examples of situated approaches and practices in the field of sound, participants were asked to perform a series of experiments on site. They considered its social context and history, but also used the architecture in its current situation as an instrument and a condition for their sound explorations. Each work progressively merged into another during the process of the workshop. The idea here was to build up awareness in how we experience and understand particular places in our city that remain unused or silent. The collected materials, the sonic experiences play with different modes of sonic appropriation of these abandoned places.
Eleven participants were chosen in an open call, and a group of artists and social workers was created. The participants of the group are: Natalia Domínguez, Aleix Plademunt, Wingel Gilberto, Anna Recasens, Sofía Balbontín, Matthias Neumann, Sena Aydin, Yolanda de los Bueis, Jordina Roca, Christos Papasotiriou and Carolina de la Cajiga. During these three weeks they explored and experienced a sound relation between the space, the body, the presence and the technology for creating new sounds through experimentation.
The workshop worked so well that the whole group and the artist, Donia, decided to continue working together towards the exhibition of Sound of Our Cities, with the objective of forming a sound collage as a collective outcome that links together contextual elements, thoughts and narratives.
MORE INFO ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
Iranian, born in Brussels, sound explorer. Her main focus is the movement of sound, body and space. She develops experimental approaches towards a spatial practice of sound. Sonic states as a potential mechanism to connect the social to the physical space in order to reject aesthetic conformity. Questioning the place of the body in the lived environment , and finding out ways to cultivate community with a shared and dynamic understanding of space and presence. She explores places and situations in order to activate unknown terrains in the sensorial common space by designing site specific strategies.
Zsofia Szonja Illes - Unheard and Unseen
She started online meetings with members of the local community, but she plans to come to Barcelona on March 2021. The project aims to record the domestic, inner, unheard sounds and voices of the urban context. Storytelling from groups often underrepresented in urban planning (e.g women) will be added to the urban soundscape by means of a guided sound-walk. Making the unheard heard, bringing the inside (domestic, memory, emotional), outside, experienced as an emotional landscape, may also emphasise the duality of the sonic experience.
The first phase of the residency was held remotely, combining research and online conversations in order to understand the context and place. This first phase (October-November 2020) allowed Zsófia to make contact with local gatekeeper organisations who already work in the context and with vulnerable groups, and to work on a methodology that would suit the group once she arrives in Barcelona. In the current pandemic context Zsófia's project builds on a slower process that starts with remote phases of research, interviews and participant recruitment through the gatekeeper organisation she is collaborating with. The actual fieldwork and recordings will be realised once restrictions ease and she will be able to physically come to work with the Sant Andreu Intercultural Service, a district initiative aiming to incorporate an intercultural perspective within all areas of community life.
This second phase of fieldwork and recording would take place between March and April 2021. The methodology is focused on place-based, small-group research and recording, sound mapping and storytelling. Zsófia plans to run her engagements with small groups (1-3 people) and ideally she would prefer to conduct 3 engagements (with 3-9 people) while she is on site.
Zsofia Szonja Illes is an artist and designer with a socially engaged practice, founder of the artist-led community project ‘Collective Plant’. She is a lecturer for ‘Landscape Democracy’ (LED2LEAP), holds a Masters degree in Environmental Design from the Glasgow School of Art, and is a collaborating artist at the ’School for Civic Imagination’, Centre of Contemporary Arts, CCA: Glasgow. Her current research and work look into democratising placemaking processes - in defining the use of vacant urban spaces and land - through sensory and embodied engagement.
Raphael Daibert - COTORRADIO / Mix of remote residency and on site: Residency in Barcelona from the 20th of January to 7th of February 2021
This project is based on research related to the sense of belonging. The aim is to create a podcast entitled CotorRadio – an idea that came from a concept developed by the artist around the cotorras (tropical birds surprisingly found living wild in European cities) – with an ensemble of sounds and voices from the neighbourhood. Raphael looks at these non-human creatures as a way of broadening the interpretations of human reality in a time when narratives of social and minority struggles are being co-opted and misinterpreted by the leading world-wide far right discourses.
For the first part of the residency, he established remotely a collaboration with three latin american artists and researchers based in Barcelona: Maíra das Neves, José Platzeck and Rafael Frazão (part de PEI: Programa d’Estudis Independents al MACBA), three artists who developed a narrative connecting parrots with the concept of “plague”. Raphael contacted them through their participation in an exhibition named Plague, organised by Cultural Ecologies of the Independent Studies Programme (PEI, Macba) that took a critical look at different forms of management of "nature" that exist today. The concept of the plague indicates a relationship between life and territory: life forms which, from a certain point in time onwards, are considered as excessive in number within a given space. The exhibition ties the concept of plague into the way living things are categorised; life forms such as eucalyptus, parrots, urban grasses, water, native species and invasive species.
The first recording of Cotorradio will be called Prologue, an introductory interview of Raphael Daibert with the three artists. The conversation goes about how their inquiries meet and how these colorful creatures' presence, sound and behavior symbolize complex social issues certain humans can relate to - and beyond.
The second part of the residency is planned to be realised in March 2021. During that period the artist will continue in their collaboration with the group of artists in Barcelona and also with “The anti rumours network” in Barcelona formed by people, associations, organisations, venues, programmes and municipal services that, together with Barcelona City Council, work collaboratively and in a network to dismantle rumours and stereotypes about cultural diversity and to foster relationships based upon equality, respect and mutual recognition in the face of the various discriminations that hinder coexistence in the city.
Raphael Daibert is a curator and artist from Brazil, based in Berlin. Currently finishing his Master's at the Dutch Art Institute, Raphael translates for a living, and researches anti-colonial perspectives of being.
In-Dialog Collective / The group have already started online research
In- Dialog collective also planned their residency in two stages, the first one held online, focusing on a development of their own cartographic analysis which concentrates on street layout and circulation patterns to be used in the composition and creation of musical sequencer research hardware; and the second one, on site, exploring the sonic landscape and gathering sound samples.
In relation to their research, the layout of a city defines its rhythm and composes its atmosphere, so they are examining movement in the city, and the pathways which define this movement. Key morphological elements of the urban landscape are translated into sound. This process will help them create the baseline of the sound piece, defining its tempo and composition, and will also allow them to examine online content and videos produced within the area, analysing their background sound.
As for the Musical Sequencer Hardware, they will document the fabrication process with the aim of producing an open source library so that anyone may create their own.
The second stage is planned for February 2021 and consists of an installation, nourished by each element’s unique morphology and texture to produce a diverse palette of sounds. They resonate from the percussion sequence produced by our kinetic drum machine. The device triggers a series of motorised “Woodpeckers”, creating impacts on the surface of an object, thus making it resonate. The process of crafting this installation relies on an a priori analysis of the props. When setting up in a new environment, the artists study the morphology and materiality of objects from the local context. A period of exploration is required, during which they observe and discover specific items or architectural elements that might be used for the sound performance.
Their methodology during their residency in Barcelona will be based upon exploration and discovery of the cultural context. In collecting sounds produced by objects, aside from their cultural significance, they will examine the tonality, pitch, dynamics and duration of each. After classifying and cataloguing their acoustics properties, they will store them in a database. This library will form their main guide in curating the final selection of objects and their position within the scenography.
The final performance will be a rhythmic composition, a product of the knowledge gathered during the online phase, combined with the experience from the onsite exploration.
The ambiance of the musical composition will be inspired by the cultural context, while the sound texture will be woven from the materiality of the objects presented in the urban surroundings, and highlighted thanks to the sensing/recording units.
In-Dialog Collective is composed of Tiffany Attali, Calin Segal, Codin Segal and Caterina Miralles Tagliabue. They are a young group of artists, architects and programmers, united by their desire to re-invent the world around them. Their work explores the use of algorithms and machines in creating experiences that augment or create social interactions. In-Dialog projects consist of playful environments or installations where people can express their creativity and engage in social exchange.
Martí Madaula Esquirol - How to conquer space
Focuses on collecting stories and anecdotes from public space or its buildings that relate, in a broad sense, to some of the artist’s research interests. This does not mean that the project will necessarily be related to spaces as such, since How to conquer space has many layers and, therefore, many areas of study may be explored, such as the difficulty of feeling at home in a new context, the connection between two separate worlds or places, the revision of official narratives, a critical reflection on intimate spaces, among other issues, taking this research as a starting point. One of the outcomes expected from this residency is the production of a sound piece.
Martí Madaula Esquirol, holds a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and a Master of Visual Arts from LUCA School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium. He is currently working on the publication of his master thesis, thanks to the Sala d'Art Jove 2020 Creation Grant and the support of the Centre d'Art La Panera. His latest projects have been presented in the art event Stronger than air, thinner than ice (2019) at the UGent Observatorium, and in the performance How to conquer space (2019) at Kolder-Gent, with Roos Nieboer.
Banu Çiçek Tülü - The minor sonic cartography and the safe space
This project is a guided soundwalk which sets up a critical reflection upon the exclusivity of use of pavements, and how walking upon them can be an act of privilege.
Walking, such an easy act in everyday life in the city, can be difficult, challenging, uncomfortable, and maybe impossible for certain communities such as women, LGBTQI*, minorities, migrants, people with disabilities etc. Pavements can draw attention to the sonic violence (and many other urban problems through listening) that most of the above-mentioned groups confront, such as, cat-calling, sniping, swearing, and verbal harassment, as well as sounding car horns aggressively, and gunning the engines of cars of the roads. Therefore, this project aims to collect the sonic memories of specific groups of citizens, and return these memories to urban space in order to create awareness of a very common issue in our cities.
Banu Çiçek is an artist, researcher and DJ with a background in urban design, born in South-East Turkey, and now based in Berlin. Her academic and artistic interests include participation, public space, sonic environment, acoustic ecology, collective listening, environmental spatial justice, urban activism, intersectional feminism, and interdisciplinary methodologies. She is currently a PhD candidate at Hamburg Fine Arts University, and is in receipt of a grant from the Heinrich Böll Foundation. She is a lecturer at the Humboldt University, Berlin.
John Grzinich - Listening in context
Using the simple idea of creating 'portraits' of people listening to their city, 'Listening in Context' investigates the intimate role sound plays in our perception and the connections we make to our surroundings through what we hear. The project involves setting up a simple interaction with the public in public space, to engage people in becoming focused ‘listeners'.
John Grzinich has worked since the early 1990s as an artist and cultural coordinator, using various practices which include and often combine sound moving image, site-specificity, and collaborative social structures. He has performed and exhibited in North/South America, Europe and Japan, and his compositions have been published by a host of international labels. The focus of his work in recent years has been to combine sound and listening practices with various media to challenge age-old anthropocentric perceptions of the world we inhabit. http://maaheli.ee/main/
DAF (Dynamische Akustische Forschung)- Researching social spaces through sound
How does sound map the historical memory of a place? Sound reflects the relief of social realities: The innumerable rhythms of a city and the community itself push themselves acoustically into the resonating spaces of their surroundings. This project aims to research what a family, an apartment house, a factory building or a street sound like. The auditory information of a city overlaps to a rhythm which, at the level of hearing, integrates a million different cities in a single city at the same time, and accompanies audiences without a break. Within this context, an acoustic map of places will be created. This sound archive of a city is not intended to illustrate reality, but the continuous reformulation of its characteristics.
The artist collective Dynamische Akustische Forschung (DAF - English: Dynamic Acoustic Research) is concerned with the fundamental criteria of digital art creation in the 21st century. Sound is of particular importance in this context; it becomes the carrier and medium of artistic practices. Several performances, such as at the Festival Of Future Nows 2 at Hamburger Bahnhof , Berlin, or at the Ultima Festival at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter , Oslo, reflect an independent and unconventional approach to contemporary art creation through non-hierarchical, collective strategies.
Marta Azparren & Pablo Martín Jones - Manoeuvres
Manoeuvres is an artistic project, site-specific, that intervenes in old urban industrial spaces through image and sound. The artists will “listen” to the space of the old factories, and reclaim the story of the productive masses. It is not a nostalgic action, or a revision of past times, it is about inserting temporality, incorporating the past as one more layer to the collective story. The aim is to print the memory imprint of work in the white cube of the artistic space, and to question its neutrality during the process.
Marta Azparren is a visual artist and performer based in Barcelona. Her videos have been screened and awarded in numerous international film and video festivals, exhibitions and art fairs. Her work claims to be a meta-reflection on the artistic activity, with special attention to the connections between creator, spectator and object, and its mediators. Pablo Martin Jones is the son of a flamenco guitarist and a flamenco dancer, both Americans living in Spain. His approach broadened as he grew musically, and he developed a wider palette of sounds, that includes practically anything, while simultaneously immersing himself in electronic music. During this time he has performed with many great artists from many different fields, in many different styles and is increasingly in demand as a composer for film, dance and other performing arts.
SOUND ARCHIVE: VOICES
Voices is a sound archive collecting interviews, sound art projects, and experimental narratives as a podcast collection. Voices belongs to the curatorial investigation and dissemination of the Sound of Our Cities project.
The objective of the archive is to gather a variety of voices from the artists as well from people who have at some point been linked to the project, recording the memories or experiences that they wish to share, or fictions on issues related to urban public space and the theme of silence.
CARTOGRAFIES DEL CONTRAST / October 2020
“Cartografies del contrast”, is a sound walk throughout Sant Andreu (Barcelona) by Idensitat, Dear Hunter and La Nau Va presented within the Community Arts Festival (#FAACCC) organised by Basket Beat.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SOOC
The central artistic activity of the project takes shape through different processes that converge in two sound art exhibitions, which will be embedded into specific sites in the urban environments of Roeselare, Belgium and Barcelona, Spain. The exhibitions will consist of ten sound pieces, one by each of ten artists chosen by an European open call. The process of creating the sound art installations, comprising a diverse cultural content, invites both professional artists and public participants to consider the aspects of their identity which reflect the intangible culture of the community they are a part of. The consideration of a local identity of the selected areas within the creation process of the exhibitions enhances respect for its inhabitants' needs, promotes cultural diversity and stimulates public discussion.
SoOC demonstrates new methods of urban artistic intervention and hence broadens attitudes and awareness of how cultural operators can work within public spaces. Target groups can experience public art in an innovative way, and local audiences can contribute to its shaping. It is anticipated to foster a progressive attitude in how artists, cultural operators and audiences can produce and interact with cultural and creative content in public space through digital technology.
SoOC sees the cultural and creative sector (CCS) as having an intrinsic role in stimulating local communities, highlighting cultural diversity and instigating intercultural and transnational dialogue. This project works to leverage this capacity through the production of public artworks that will be delivered in a unique digital interface to wide and disparate audiences across five target groups.
Sounds of Our Cities takes place during 24 months in October 2019- October 2021. It is a collaboration between four partners:
City of Roeselare – Belgium BE
Idensitat – Barcelona ES
Dear Hunter – Netherlands NL
Aalborg University – Denmark DK
Other three associated partners are involved:
Impact VZW, Belgium
Struer Tracks / Struer Municipality, Denmark
Bohm Bohm Room, Sweden
QUIKOFF MEETING / BARCELONA October 2019
Sounds of our Cities is an European project of Cultural Cooperation co-founded by Creative Europe carried out between City of Roeselare (BE), Idensitat (ES), Dear Hunter (NL), Aalborg University (DK), and associated partners: Impact vzw (BE) - De Spil Cultuurcentrum (BE) - BOHM BOHM ROOM (SE) - Struer Tracks (DK) - Master Degree in Sound Art of Universitat de Barcelona (ES), Ajuntament de Barcelona, Generalitat de Catalunya - Departament de Cultura.