Liminal

2021
Durational composition
Spatial sound installation

Curated by Raquel Castro, for Sounds Now – Sound Art in Public Spaces
November Music Festival, Serre of Verkadefabriek, Den Bosch, The Netherlands

A durational composition integrated the installation Liminal, at the Serre of the Verkadefabriek, in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. It enhanced the presence of diverse species that inhabit the Verkadefabriek and its surrounding public spaces, at this time of the year. It created a sonic environment to listen with the other than human, usually unnoticed in the everyday.
This long durational soundscape unfolds a modulation of rhythms, tones, drones and melodies in multiple layers: location recordings of environmental sounds in a park around a lake, underwater, acoustic instrumentss and synthesizers. The soundscape was composed to spatially resonate with the architecture of the installation space, with specific psychoacoustic effects. This immersive environment invited us to slow down and attune into active and extended listening modes. It aimed to expand our human perceptual threshold with the multiple voices of the local ecosystems, towards an acoustic sensibilisation and reconnection with our surroundings.

 

Recorded with binaural technique, using DPA 4060 stereo omnidirectional microphones, and hydrophones. Listen with headphones for an immersive experience.


Reflection

My proposal meets the topic Sound Art in Public Space with a spatial sound installation that creates an intermediary space of relation and connection between inside and outside public spaces. A durational sound composition of 28 minutes based in local recordings of environmental sound comes to inhabit and modulate an interior space with the variations of an outdoors public space.
As my background is in architecture and acoustics, I have been experimenting ways of creating this kind of connection between the inside of a building and its close exterior surroundings. This because interior spaces are often insulated and disconnected from outside, from environmental changes. And nowadays we spend most of our time inside, so we have a tendency to lose our connection to seasonal and circadian rhythms of our planet, with non human life surrounding us. Our societies’ and cities’ rhythms are always too fast, so even when we are outside, it remains a challenge to give ourselves enough time in our everyday to notice these environmental changes. Nevertheless, we are a species part of our planet and interdependent with its life rhythms. So in order to remain healthy, it is vital to be in synchronicity with the planet’s changes in our close environments, of the place where we live. Therefore I believe that our living spaces should be attuned to the local ecosystems life’s rhythms in some way.
In this sense, this work Liminal intervenes in an interior public space, the Serre of the Verkadefabriek, which is a cafe with many plants. And the sounds that we hear there, as in most of cafes or restaurants, are basically air conditioning, refrigerating machines, human voices, ambient music, and from outside only permeates the low frequencies of cars and trains passing by. Most of interior spaces constrain our perception in this way, in a very homogeneous and limited range, and therefore contribute to reduce our perceptual spectrum. These are the reasons why my proposal is to inhabit this architectural space with environmental sounds of the surrounding local ecosystems as a way to modulate its atmosphere and to bring in this season cyclical life rhythms inside.
So Liminal is about cycles in time and how it changes a place, how different each place sounds in a specific season, and in a particular time of day or night. Now it’s November, we’re in the Netherlands, in the city of Den Bosch (which means the Forest). The days are shorter, it’s very humid, the leafs are falling and the ecosystems are changing fast, winter is almost here. The sound installation is based in location recordings of environmental sound in public spaces close by. I’ve spent a few days walking and riding a bicycle in the city, and I’ve asked locals about their favourite public spaces. So I went to this park around a lake, that has a water ecosystem with huge trees surrounding the lake. Sometimes there is fog. This circular topography around the lake, as an arena, and its humid weather conditions creates a very particular acoustics. Sounds travel around and reflect in water. Sounds propagate all around very clearly and we can listen to many water birds vocalisations, at this time of the year. I’ve spent some time there recording with a multitrack recorder, and I felt like modulating between the propagation of sound in air and underwater, using hydrophones, slowly oscillating levels between air and water. At the end there is no processing in the recordings, the effects result from the acoustic qualities of that place.
Liminal, as the term refers to, is an in-between state, an intermediary space, as a transition, which not only relates to these cyclical changes in time, but also of our mind and body presence here and now. This relates to my research in psychoacoustics and in archaeoacoustics on how very specific frequencies attune us to different states and body-mind awareness. So in this work there is also an unfolding of layers of micro modulation of frequencies and harmonics with recorded acoustic instruments and synthesisers that come to resonate with the architectural space, and with different rhythms of electrical impulses of plants’ life in real time, that inhabit the Serre’s space. And these layers come to enhance these extended changes in time that invite us to slow down.
As a result, this intervention with a spatial sound installation transforms the Serre’s usual atmosphere, and besides being a café it also becomes a place to gather and listen, to attune and resonate with the diversity and the different qualities of the local ecosystems. And hopefully it opens up our perceptual spectrum to the surroundings, and expands our listening awareness.


Location recordings documentation


Spatial sound installation at the Serre

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