Report symposium Sonic West: collective urbanism through a multiplicity of listening
21 November 2019 we organised a short symposium about the the societal significance and use of community art projects concerning itself with the sonic aspects of social life. The project Sonic West was used as a concrete example to discuss questions like can shared listening practises lead the way to a more just city?
During one evening both speakers involved in the project as well as speakers with an outside view reflected upon these questions and enticed those present to ‘hear into’ a future more shared city. Between more than 40 attendees lot of questions and issues were exchanged, and the evening was just long enough to touch upon everything but too short to discuss all things thoroughly. To do just thas we plan a longer event somewhere next year. We’ll keep you posted!
Here you find a nice photo reportage of the evening made by Michiel Landeweerd. Underneath the programme of the evening, short bio’s of the speakers and some information about Sonic West.
17.45 Welcome and introduction
Michiel Huijsman, Artist, initiator Soundtrackcity, curator Sonic West
Justin Bennett, Artist, curator Sonic West:
Public space as acoustic territory
Mayke Haringhuizen and Fani Konstantinidou, artists in residence Sonic West:
The sound of Green Space
The multiplicity of sonic perception
Donia Jourabchi and Taufan ter Weel, artists in residence Sonic West:
Arie Altena, writer and editor. Author of ‘Wat is Community Art?’
Some social and political aspects of listening
18.55 Discussion, Q&A
All present and on the stage: Arie Altena, Justin Bennett, Mayke Haringhuizen, Michiel Huijsman, Fani Konstantinidou, Donia Jourabchi and Taufan ter Weel
19.15 Drinks and bites
About the speakers
Arie Altena is a writer and editor at V2_Lab for the Unstable Media and Sonic Acts. He is the author of Wat is community art? (2017) and he has edited several Sonic Acts publications such as The Poetics of Space (2010), Travelling Time (2011), The Dark Universe (2013) and The Geologic Imagination (2015), for which he also contributed essays and interviews with artists, musicians and theorists.
Justin Bennett (UK, 1964, based in The Hague) works with sound and image. Trained in sculpture and electronic music, he uses drawing, video, sculpture, and a diverse array of sonic forms in his research. One recurrent theme is our experience of architecture, urban development, and (un)built space, employing sound in order to render it audible as well as palpable. In his work, listening carefully provides a radically different way of seeing and experiencing. Justin Bennett is a member of the performance group BMB con. and a founding member of Jubilee, platform for artistic research and production.
Mayke Haringhuizen is a visual artist and psychologist. As an artist she creates soundwalks and story-based installations using fieldrecording, interviews and personal writing. Her work is inspired by people’s of use language and the way one shapes their perception and reality. In the past she has written about sound art and organized exhibitions for atelier complex BANK. Recently, she has started working on a podcast series about her women’s soccer team ‘De Vliegende Nonnen’.
Michiel Huijsman is a visual artist and independent curator. As a curator, Michiel has initiated several controversial projects in public space. He was one of the founders of Wally public artificial light, the legendary guerrilla artists’ initiative that, from 1996 to 2002, projected a 7×14 metre light image every night on a warehouse in the Eastern Docklands in Amsterdam. Together with Renate Zentschnig, Michiel forms the management team of Soundtrackcity. Together with Justin Bennett he concieved Sonic West.
Donia Jourabchi (Brussels) examines the contextual relations between body and space in the materiality of sound – an experimental approach to the spatial practice of sound by developing spatial and sonic strategies that can contribute to social engagement in physical space. She has been involved in several collaborations such as sound system design, public interventions, experimental music, dance and choreography, electro-acoustic sound techniques and improvisation, sound recording, spatial amplification, installations and compositions, self-built instruments, radiophonic art and graphic design. Her work focuses on ‘situated knowledges’ that manifest themselves in the physicality of sound and reflects on the social conditions in the context-dependent and community-based articulation of site-specificity.
Fani Konstantinidou is a composer, sound artist, and music researcher. Her music and research concentrate on emphasizing, analyzing, and exposing cultural and social elements through sound, aiming at public communication through music. Growing up in Greece and living and working in the Netherlands for more than 10 years, she is highly influenced and mainly inspired by the rural and urban landscapes, the temperament, the language, and the musical traditions of the two countries. The last years she has performed live in various experimental music venues and events such as TodaysArt festival (NL), Intonal festival (SE), STEIM (NL) and others. In November/December 2019, her upcoming album ‘Winter Trilogy/The Big Fall’ is going to be released by the Amsterdam-based record label Moving Furniture Records.
Taufan ter Weel (NL) is an architect, artist and researcher with an inter-disciplinary approach at the intersection of sonic practice, architecture and socio-spatial research. He is guest teacher (2015-present) and researcher (since 2019) at the Theory chair of TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture, where he also received his master degree in architecture with honourable mention in 2009. His PhD research is carried out in the Villard d’Honnecourt international doctorate programme in architecture. Furthermore, he has worked as part-time instructor (2009-2012) and guest teacher (2013-2014) at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Built Environment department), where he earlier received his bachelor degree in 2006. He was a research member of Cohabitation Strategies in Rotterdam (2009-2010) as well as artistic leader (2010-2012) and co-leader (2013-2014) of Blikopener Festival & Productions in Delft. He performs live electronic music since 2001 and followed the Institute of Sonology’s one-year course program (2011-2012) at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague.
About Sonic West
Sonic West is a multi-year (2017–2022) participatory social sound project developed by Soundtrackcity that stimulates the public awareness of urban sound and provides a space for exchange and research into the personal listening experiences of citizens. How does your city sound? What do you hear in your house, your street, your neighbourhood?
These hearing experiences are almost always personal, subjective and fleeting. They are mostly cast aside by urban planners as insignificant, meaningless and of no use for research or practice. We do not agree and think that exactly these experiences are what creates the urban environment. Discussing, exchanging and reliving these experiences can turn the urban space into a collective place and bring about social and political engagement. Is a collective sonic urbanism imaginable and how can it be realised?
The aim of Sonic West is to encourage people to listen to their surroundings and to make them aware of the many different relationships they have with their environment and each other through sound. The participants meet in listening workshops, sound walks and recording workshops and store their ﬁndings in a growing archive of recordings and written impressions. The archive is presented to the community and a wider audience through an app and a sculpture, commisioned by the public library, which functions as a listening object. Participants turn into self-determined researchers and become more aware of the social and political aspects of sounds in their urban environment.
The point of departure is always a simple question like; What do you hear? Which sounds do you want to share? What should the neighbourhood sound like in the future? During a multi-year process, the participants become listening activists of their surroundings. They will feel more and more connected to their neighbourhood and their neighbours.