Listening to Public Space - Sound, City Planning and Architecture

© C. Stabenow, 2014

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© C. Stabenow, 2014

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Listening to Public Space - Sound, City Planning and Architecture

Sound Walkconferences, concert and roundtable
September 21 - 23, 2015


in collaboration with Goethe-Institut, Hexagram and DOCK Berlin


The Goethe-Institut, Hexagram and DOCK Berlin unite forces to present a series of events exploring the relationship between sound, art and urban space.

Three evenings of public events are planned, including a sound walk by artist Nicolas Dion, presentations by curators Carsten Seiffarth and Carsten Stabenow on artistic platforms in Germany promoting the research, presentation and creation of sound works and the urban environment (bonn hoeren and Tuned City), the presentation of a listening map of Bonn by sonic artist Sam Auinger, a performance by Ernst Karel of a composition integrating both human and non-human voices emanating from an urban environment, and finally a roundtable on the transformation of urban sounds in the built environment.

Travers – Sound Walk by Nicolas Dion
Monday, September 21, 2015, 5 pm - 7 pm (departure from Goethe-Institut)
Sound action taking place in the public space, between point A (Goethe-Institut) and B (OBORO), between the appropriate time and the time beside it.
Presented by curator Eric Mattson as part of La Marche (est haute) .11

bonn hoeren: Urban Sound Art since 2010 conference by Carsten Seiffarth, Berlin
Monday, September 21, 2015 at 8 pm
Sound art as installation art has its own approach to public space. It is site-specific and time-specific art. Sound art in public space has a long history, beginning in the early days of sound art in the 1960s. With this awareness of history, bonn hoeren has invited every year since 2010 an acclaimed sound artist to work in Bonn. Initiated and financed by the Beethoven Foundation for Art and Culture of Bonn (Beethovenstiftung für Kunst und Kultur der Bundesstadt Bonn), Bonn was the first city worldwide to invite annually a sound artist to a 6 month residency to create a piece for public space. Each year the focus changes. Past themes have included sound art and urban planning, sound art and the public, sound art and architecture, sound art and landscape and sound and the city. The project bonn hoeren for urban sound art installations will take place annually until 2020 in Bonn.

Followed by

Tuned City: Sound and Space in the Urban Context – conference by Carsten Stabenow, Berlin
Tuned City is a platform researching the relationship between sound and space in the urban context. The project brings the traditions of critical discussion about urban space within the architecture and urban planning discourse into the context of sound and listening. This expanded discussion re-enforces the potential of the spatial and communicative properties of sound as a tool and means of urban practice. The first edition of Tuned City – Between Sound and Space Speculation took place in July 2008 in Berlin, with almost 100 artists, architects and thinkers gathered together in a variety of locations. Since then, Tuned City festivals have taken place in Tallinn, Nuremberg and Brussels. Tuned City continues as a platform, travelling to other cities and locations with their own cultural and social settings, working site-specifically, theoretically and practically on the question of how sound and architecture are related.

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Listening Sites in Bonn – conference by Sam Auinger, Berlin
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 8 pm
My period as the first Bonn city sound artist was marked by countless walks and exploratory tours. I literally embraced the city with my two feet. The interesting thing about getting to know a city on foot is that you never leave the large, perceptible urban setting and the slow pace of movement enables a high level of attention for sensory impressions - ideal conditions for exploring a city from an aural point of view. Out of this artistic research I created Listening Sites in Bonn. This map is an invitation to visit various sites in Bonn and experience their auditory qualities, to consciously expand the individual perception, recognition and interpretation of urban settings/sites - our urban living space - through the aural dimension.

Followed by

Morning and Other Times - concert by Ernst Karel, Boston
quadraphonic, 32 min, 2014

Morning and Other Times is a multichannel sound composition that was recorded in the city of Chiang Mai in early 2014. The piece attends to the multidimensional nature of the city in terms of the ways it’s inhabited by beings of different species. In one recurring case, that of dogs, the voices are literally in dialogue with audible religious and political aspects of life in the city: namely the ringing of bells in temples (which are places that shelter stray dogs), and the bugle calls which emanate from a military facility on the outskirts of the city. The piece also relies on overhearing, on listening through, in order to convey something of its setting by what is revealed in the background. When I was going through my recordings, I found that I had more than once inadvertently recorded the Thai national anthem being broadcast somewhere in the background; including them in the piece contributes to the theme of a pervasive background of nationalism and militarism.

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Urban Sounds:  Acoustic Transformations in the 21st Century City - round table
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 7 pm - 9 pm (at Goethe-Institut, 1626 boul. St-Laurent)

Lead by Chris Salter, Artist, Co-Director Hexagram and Concordia University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses (QC/CA/US)
Participants: Sam Auinger (DE/AT), Carsten Stabenow (DE), Marthe Boucher (QC)
The ubiquity of sound within the built environment and its continual transformation through new social technological means is becoming a major global theme, not only in art and design but in the planning of cities and economic and social policy in the North and South. This concluding roundtable brings together sound artist/sonic thinker Sam Auinger, curator Carsten Stabenow, artist/researcher-creator Chris Salter and Marthe Boucher, Head of the Permits and Inspections Division at Ville-Marie’s Department of Urban Planning to explore the socio-­technical-cultural-economic impact of sound’s relationship to the built environment and the ways in which we can begin to bring sonic thinking into our everyday urban practices.

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Nicolas Dion Buteau

Nicolas Dion Buteau. Sound artist and musician (sound installations, performances, recordings and electronic music). Involved in various collaborative projects, including a sound art duo with Anne-F Jacques (formerly known as Minibloc), an electronic music trio called Citofono (formerly Intercom), and other collective efforts, past and present. Also generates sounds all by himself under his own name (formerly Darcin).

Carsten Seiffarth

Carsten Seiffarth From 1986-1988 he studied music at the Franz Liszt School of Music, Weimar; 1990-1993 studied musicology/sociology at the Technische Universität Berlin. From 1991 onwards, he has been working freelance as curator, producer and organiser. He has curated many solo and group sound art exhibitions and edited several books, including singuhr – hoergalerie and tesla – media art lab berlin.

Carsten Stabenow

Carsten Stabenow works as free-lance curator, producer, communication designer and artist on the intersection of artistic production and mediation. He studied communications and postgraduate interdisciplinary studies in Berlin and is initiator of diverse festivals and projects within the context of new media, art and science and sound art. He is the founder of the German media art festival garage, initiator and artistic director of Tuned City and co-founder of the Berlin art and media production platform DOCK.

Sam Auinger

Sam Auinger is a composer, sound artist and sonic thinker. His main topic is the sonic commons and how we perceive the world from a hearing perspective (O+A). He has been working now for more than 25 years in public space and has developed a range of procedures and tools for reading a site and bringing forward hidden information and relationships from an auditory point of view.

Ernst Karel

Ernst Karel makes experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance.  His recent projects are edited/composed using unprocessed location recordings; in performance he sometimes combines these with analog electronics to create pieces which move between the abstract and the documentary. Recent sound projections have included EMPAC, Troy NY; Arsenal, Berlin; and the 2014 Whitney Biennial.