What does a city sound like? Can sound shape our perception of a particular space?
Curated by Office for Good Design, the Audio Architecture program brought together architects, sound designers, musicians and artists to contemplate how you can use sound to make better spaces. Audio Architecture marked the re-opening of Hamer Hall and was a celebration of this new meeting point for sound, architecture and design. The program aimed to unpack a cross-disciplinary approach to sound through investigations of how you can build better spaces through sound. Split across two days, participants were involved in conversation between various key note speakers as well as a 24 hour design camp.
Day 1 of the program included a selection of speakers, performances and conversations by architects, sound designers, musicians and artists. The diverse disciplines of speakers allowed a broader approach to considering sound in architecture. Theoretical conversations from New York-based architect, Joel Sanders were coupled with performances by sonic art collective, Super Critical Mass. An acoustic bell performance exchanged by SCM was an immersive and mediative experience of sound with identical instruments played through an algorithmic approach by the musicians.
24hr Camp (Day 2 & 3
Held by curatorial collective N, the studio was a spatial study of dissonance and over the course of 24 hours, participants would explore the intersections of sound and architecture through workshops, conversation and projects. Leading up to the camp, all participants were presented with a collection of readings, inspirations and provocations by the likes of John Cage, Yves Klein and Yoko Ono. The core focus of the study was to intersect the relationship between sound and architecture in the newly renovated Hamer Hall.
The day started with a reflective workshop on the readings that helped build dialogue with other participants as well as a guided tour of the new Hamer Hall by its architect, Ian McDougall (ARM) and Sound Acoustician, Peter Exton (Marshall Day Acoustics).
Hamer Hall architect, Ian McDougall guided the tour through the building touching on the architectural history, improvements and design motifs. “What we’ve tried to add is another fluid voice that comes across it, that attempts to organise the other voices into maybe another story,” explained McDougall. Moving through to the Auditorium, McDougall and Exton discussed the value of how their architectural modifications and acoustic implications merged into single concepts resulting in significant acoustic enhancements for both the audience and musicians. The tour proved an insightful experience in understanding the convergence of architecture and sound in realising the Hamer Hall in the 21st Century.
As the day progressed, there were opportunities to participate in performance with Super Critical Mass in a spatial exploration of sound using bells in a public space. Breaking off into small teams, participants were able to create their own algorithmic patterns that were triggered by their surroundings that resulted in sonic explorations. Participants also engaged in a sound walk around the city that developed a soundscape from the multiple spaces they traveled through. Detached from their surroundings absorbing the cacophony of sounds that enveloped a journey through the city that many thought they knew so well.
Approaching 8pm, it was an opportunity to break off into groups and start exchanging ideas on how the Hamer Hall could be analysed as a space of dissonance. Each group had an assigned theme including Space, Time, Sound, Image & Performance. Team Image focused their manifesto on how sound transports reality into our consciousness.
Working through the night, Team Image explored a variety of sounds to evoke images in the minds of the people visiting Hamer Hall that were different to the physical reality that surrounded them. Four sounds were chosen that each related to the team’s initial feelings about certain spaces within Hamer Hall.
Copious amounts of caffeine and adrenaline pushed most of the participants through the night and as the Hamer Hall doors opened to the public at 10am, each group sequentially performed their study through various parts of the building.
Image group focused their four sounds across four escalators (two going up, two going down) leading to the Auditorium from the main entry foyer. Each member of the group played the corresponding sound to each escalator through a mobile sound device. Subjects traveling through these spaces along the escalators would hear sounds that would question their present surroundings and in turn provoke their sense of reality for a fleeting moment of time.
In other groups, sound devices, make-shift equipment and musical instruments were used as tools to intrude the crowd in unexpected ways. Through a study of sound as an invitation to the obliteration of self amongst strangers, Team Sound involved all participants in the camp to play an emerging tone from their phones that emitted a gradual range of high frequencies. The public was consumed by an unknown fever pitch sound and then a sudden dissipation by participants.
A strong focus of the study was the documentation of the process that will be realised in a gallery exhibition as well as an online exhibition in the form of a website.
For more information head to audioarchitecture.com.au/pinboard
Photography: Scottie Cameron - scottiecameron.com.au