Experts: Christian Kassung (Cultural History and Theory), Pablo Daniel Mininni (Physics), Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann (Musicology), Holger Schulze (Sound Studies)
Participants: Sebastian Schwesinger (Cultural History and Theory), Olaf Schäfer (Sound Studies / Aural Architecture), Christina Landbrecht (Art and Visual History), Sonia Guggisberg (Communication & Symiotics)
Sonification, a form of auditory display, has been used for approximately twenty years now, for example as EEG data in the field of medicine. It is crucial to all techniques of sonification, such as Model-Based Sonification, Parameter Mapping Sonification, and Stream-Base Sonification, not to transform the chronological data but to preserve an acoustic event as such.
Research Problem & questions
How can techniques and strategies of sonification be applied in urban mobility scenarios? What could the future city sound like and how could it be shaped? These questions were the starting points for the research team focussing on »Dynamics & Sound«. Traffic, for example, as a dynamic system, has always been perceived acoustically as well as optically. The sound of an approaching car alerts pedestrians. But what happens if cars will be electro-driven in future and everybody listens to music anyway?
The young academics took part in a sound walk exploring the area of Potsdamer Platz blindfolded and, thus, experienced an unconventional and experimental form of listening. Followed by sound recording experiments at certain sound spots in the centre of Berlin, the participants were encouraged to draw attention to »the sounds of the city«. These experiences were collectively analyzed and discussed and hence, formed the basis for discussions on possible sound interventions. In addition, input lectures supported the research.
Research Process & Results
The participants especially explored two sets of questions regarding urban mobility and sonification. Firstly, they discussed how traffic could be translated into aural events and, thereby, could be used to support a strategic improvement of constructional planning. Secondly, the team focussed on reducing the risks of road users through the use of sonification strategies. The unconsciousness of aural impressions and perceptions lead the team to develop a concept that explicates this implicit knowledge: they invented a system that transforms traffic noise into music in which each road user matches a sound. By downloading the as yet unfinished application onto their smartphones, road users would be able to listen to music and be warned of approaching cars at the same time. The negative effects of traffic noise, which can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, would be deadened, while their warning function would be retained at the same time. A nice side effect would be that each walk had its own individual sound of music.