sound artist · sound thinker


Sound: Urbanity and Technology

Department of Cultural History and Theory
Humboldt University of Berlin
Winter semester 2016/2017

In the book “The Tuning of the World“ (1977) R. Murray Schafer coined the soundscape as a the sonic portrait of a land- or cityscape. Because of the human made noise floor present in cities he differentiated the sound of nature and the sound of urbanity as respectively hi-fi and lo-fi soundscapes and thus creating a hierarchy.

According to Bruno Latour (We Have Never Been Modern, 1993) there is no such distinction separating nature and culture, rather it must be understood as a unified multiplicity of nature-culture, thus urban soundscapes are not less interesting when compared to “natural“ soundscapes. Therefore this course will explore the multiplicity of the urban soundscape in various approaches that all include the recording device as their central part.

The recording of a soundscape will always be a subjective directedness manifested through the choices made by the recordist and the use of recording equipment. The subjectivity of the recording does then not automatically correspond one to one with the recorded sound, thus there is no such thing as a neutral recording. To do a sound recording is then not just to capture a found sound, rather it is capturing a sound through the recording equipment.

The aim of this course is through introduction to soundscapes, sound walks, augmented aurality, sonic journalism etc. as well as to the practice of audio recording and editing to produce audio course works of each 6 to 10 minutes that shows reflections on urban sonorities and on the generating process of audio recording and editing.

Addressing texts of Brandon LaBelle (Acoustic territories: Sound culture and everyday life. A&C Black, 2010), François J. Bonnet (The Order of Sounds A Sonorous Archipelago . Urbanomic, 2016) , Blesser, Barry and LindaRuth Salter (Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture. MIT press, 2009) Jochen Bonz (Alltagsklänge: Einsätze Einer Kulturanthropologie Des Hörens. Springer, 2015) and others we will focus on everyday sound events experienced in urban public places. Public or private transportation, architecture, social contexts etc. should be taken to consideration as material for the audio works, which may have a political, historical, fictive or non-fictive narrative, or aesthetic character as focus. To round off the course the produced audio works will be publicly presented in form of an event, an exhibition, a radio broadcast, or a podcast.