{kA}: Oblivious to Gravity
— Chambers for Space Inquiries

Method of Space Inquiries

The compositorial production process of keine Ahnung von Schwerkraft is devided in four phases:

  1. inside the building
  2. Survey
  3. compositorial Answer
  4. Concert

The first phase of the project is dedicated to the vacancy of buildings. More and more buildings are unoccupied for longer periods of time in business and shopping districts as well as in residential and industrial areas. The vacant and isolated hallways, offices, basements and stairways should be used as sites for spatial sound compositions, concerts and recording.


{ 1 INSIDE THE BUILDING }

For this project it is crucial to create the compositions on-site so that they can be inspired by their surroundings; that means not a single part of the composition will be created in a studio and then tailored to fit the building. The spatial sound composition is only be worked on upon entering the building.

Basements become natural echo chambers, through opened windows enter sounds from outside and doors are used as filters. Depending on the positioning of the speakers, materials used for isolation and reflection, such as carpets, glass, wood and steel, will play a role in the creation of the sound material. Each building’s unique and individual sounds can be integrated and the building’s history and original purpose helps form the sound composition and its structure.

Each building will be explored as far as possible. Listening to the unique sounds of the location provides new ideas for further thought. For the compositional process, the ear will be the most important instrument.

What are my impressions of the building and its surroundings?

{ 2 SURVEY }

After collecting impressions of the area’s atmosphere, the further step is to answer a few questions about each room to be used. For this, Gerhard Eckel, David Pirrò and I have created a conceptual, software-aided toolbox. Standard applications “test” the rooms, ex. its frequency, reveberation times, absorption, etc:

Conceptual toolbox:

SuperCollider-Patches are used for the spatialization and for expedient testing of a sound room, for example multi-track rotating bursts, low short pulses and high frequency waves, pitches for various rooms in order to “tune” the building with chords. I also use templates for arrangement and sound organization with filters and EQs in channel strips and multichannel versions. Furthermore, for the initial spatial impressions, I have developed standard sound sequences and arrangements that include familiar sound material.

Basically, one approaches the building using a standardized question-answer repertoire (acoustical survey), which can be changed and expanded.

How do the surroundings react?

This step is not only about preparing and finding a beginning for the composition, but more importantly, about the assumption that the answers to the questions will accumulate as empirical value that can be used to help simplify the questions and help the composer better understand and even learn to read the character of the material, the space and interaction with its surroundings.

{ 3 COMPOSITORIAL ANSWER }

Based on the impressions experienced, the piece is created at the location and out of it. For this the following is possible:

  • Integration of acoustic conditions
  • Usage of site-specific sounds
  • Modification of sight-specific sounds
  • Spatialization of sounds in the building
  • Complete refusal to use the acoustic elements and sounds specific to the location.

How can a place be acoustically (re)organized?

Being this will change one’s perception of the place, does the place become a different one altogether?

Is there an acoustic architecture?

The result of this process is implicit artistic knowledge, which, in turn, can become a guideline or even the foundation for future practice. This knowledge can thus only be gained through practice, i.e. composing inside buildings, and can then be used to create further works.

{ 4 CONCERT }

Various scenarios come to mind for presenting the works and the building’s atmosphere, whereby the building’s architecture and acoustic properties play pivotal roles in the presentation.

One idea would be to place chairs at different points where the building’s sounds “come together”, for example in staircases connecting different floors or in a hallway near entrances to different rooms.

After selecting listening points, the same piece could be played from different acoustic perspectives. The visitors would change seats after each playback. That means the concert would consist of the same sound material with different colorations and filtering schemes from the building.

Other ideas include installations where the visitors are standing, for example, a walk-in listening-parcours. Listening points could be near some fixed point, for example, in front of door cracked open just a bit, in a ventilation shaft or near a window, behind which the sound composition is played.

In buildings which cannot be entered by visitors it would be record the composition at a specific point, for example from a Soundfield microphone hanging in a stairwell or a Dummyhead fixed to a tripod in the arched ceiling of a basement. The recordings could then be streamed to the IEM’s Cube or saved on a hard drive and played back via earphone concert. An ambisonic playback in the University’s concert hall Mumuth would also be possible.