Rupturing urban sound(scape)s: spatial sound design for the diversification of affective sonic ecologies by Jordan Lacey

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Abstract

In this PhD urban sounds are treated as an affective sociopolitical medium, which can be designed to reengage urban listeners. The project work and conceptual tools discussed in the PhD evolved through a recursive process that engages with city sounds through listening, sound installations, interventions and performances, which diversify the homogenised everyday atmospheres of urban sound(scape)s. Urban soundscape design is of increasing practical and theoretical interest at the international level. Questions as to the acoustic conditions that societies expect from public urban sound environments has entered the lexicon of multiple disciplines, which has produced a wide range of positions on the topic. Discussion of urban soundscape design is often synonymous with the removal of noisy environments, which are deemed to produce unhealthy effects. However, there are an increasing number of voices that call for new understandings of urban sounds that treat noises as complex events, which afford creative engagement. Concurrent with these differing approaches to urban soundscape design are evolving notions of the theoretical meaning of sound, away from the static, analysable ‘object’, towards the dynamic, unfolding ‘event’. Consequently, the sonic concepts of soundscape and sound object are being replaced with new terms such as audible ecosystems, sound-as-flux, sonic ecologies and affective acoustic atmospheres. This PhD offers its own new term to understand relationships between sounds and listeners: affective sonic ecologies. Where the effects of a sonic ecology are homogenous, a diversely affective ecology is designed through the production of ruptures. Ruptures, which are produced by a process-of-musicality, are listening points in urban spaces that afford diverse human experiences through the repatterning of urban sound(scape)s. Affective sonic ecologies that are homogenised by The Striated Sound(scape) are considered mythopoetically as the singular expression of a city’s Voice. The Voice of the city is diversified through a range of sound(scape) design approaches that have been discovered in the course of the PhD work, including Subtraction, Addition, Passion and Transformation. A reflective process, in which the totality of the PhD design research has been considered, led to the emergence of an ecological model for urban sound(scape) design that is presented as a contribution to knowledge for the domains of urban soundscape design, site-specific sound-art and sonic theory.

Examiners:  Mr William Fox, A/Prof Kathi Holt-Damant, Dr Gregory Hooper  Supervisors: Assoc Professor Lawrence Harvey, Dr Charles Anderson

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