Nadine Schütz

is an artist in residence in Paris, exploring sound in landscape perception. Her work focuses on urbanity, humanity, landscape and society through the use of environmental acoustics, music and psychoacoustics.

Nadine studied architecture and quickly realised that despite landscape often being perceived visually, she in fact highly perceives space through her ears. Landscapes are a combination of object and subject, of the place made and the place-maker or place-user. It is, in effect, impossible to distinguish between the elements of the total landscape. We see landscape as a subjective entity or an environment where things are perceived from an individual perception or point of view.

Considering this subjectivity, Nadine considers what could be some ways of investigating the link between sonic spatiality and landscape materially. She further asks us what distinguishes the place or space both visually and sonically to anyone. It could be a cultural landmark which most people would have the same perception of. It could also be a specific location which has a personal meaning to a group of people or even a single person. The location, visually is only one. However sonically there is more fluidity to work with. For instance one might have fond memories from the sound of the waves of the sea/ ocean breaking onto the shore, there is an acoustic signature to this sound – whether we think about the place as the personal memory or its history, there is still a lot of variety to go through. She refers to one term as a constellation – a group of things which are interconnected by culture or history or else.

Nadine doesn’t aim at an ideal listening condition but a free movement through spaces of possibilities, where the movement of the visitor becomes a part for the sonic experience of the spatial configuration. She takes inspiration from Toru Takemitsu as his suggested ideal sound in.

One term and concept which came up and I found resonated with me was arayashiki. Nadine describes it as a reflection on time and memory. In more technical terms, arayashiki which is assumed to come from the Japanese word for the Buddhist Yogacharan concept of a base consciousness, causal consciousness or storehouse consciousness. It is only 1 of the 8 consciousnesses that this belief accepts. What is so important about this one is that is represented almost as a core or a foundation to the rest of the consciousnesses and it stores karma and perceptions of the world. The way I see it, this storehouse consciousness is the fundamental, vulnerable inner self of a person.

In reflection to this belief and perception of space through sound, Nadine created an installation-performance called Arayashiki- The Sense of Our Senses (2018). Dancer dancing to her environmental sounds. She described it like a memory of the future. This is a concept which in a sense banishes the perception of time and similarly to the way the storehouse consciousness responds to storing certain aspects of the past, present and future to communicate with each other without the boundaries of time.

Arayashiki- The Sense of our Senses 2018

movie of Nuit Blanche Kyoto 2018, October 5

ARAYASHIKI – THE SENSE OF OUR SENSES –
DANCE : Monochrome Circus
SOUNDSCAPE : NADINE SCHUTZ
SPACE DESIGN : ALPHAVILLE

When thinking about this rejection of time, I realised that the lack of the concept of time in fact has a big contribution to the creation of this space of senses. The space she has created in combination with the sonic composition would isolate one from any outside factors and stimulate a more neutral perception of the environment. What I mean by neutral is that, she has stripped the viewer down to their fundamentals by not allowing any sort of influence on them from the world that exists outside of this cave-like structure. And with the stripping of all sorts of external factors, also comes time and the lack of perception of its passing.

The sound piece is a recording of the natural environment of Kyoto which has been manipulated digitally as well as live, through the spatial tendencies of the structure. The sonic composition becomes amplified and highly reverberant which contributed to these textural properties of infinity or depth. The space is visually not large, but the sound might make one believe otherwise.

The spatial and sonic experience is also interpreted by a contemporary dance performance every 1 hour. Nadine not only considers her installations as an instrument, because of the way it highly affects the sound, but also the performer who becomes a resonant body. She challenges the idea of an instrument necessarily being an object, and transforms space and performer into the instrument.

“Against Soundscape”. In Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice
INGOLD, Tim (2007).

Tim Ingold’s discipline is anthropology.

Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behaviour, human biology, and societies, in both the present and past, including past human species.

In regards to visual culture Ingold claims that minority of practice deals with the phenomenon of light whilst majority has gone into the study of relations between objects, images and their interpretation.  He believes that visual studies have lost touch with light. I personally am not sure I agree with this statement as there are many contemporary artists as well as directors and more who focus their studies and work on light. Such as: James Turrell, Olafur Eliason and more.

He argues that the concept of soundscape would be better abandoned. Ingold notes that landscape is visible, but it is visual only when its painted or photographed as viewer is stripped by all other sensory dimensions in relation to the landscape. Visual culture looks at the history of seeing and explored the eyes as instruments of playback. The eyes do the seeing for us, “leaving us to review the images they relay to our consciousness”. However, this is not the same way of seeing we practice in our daily life. There is no such division in seeing and processing or hearing and playing a recording back.

It seems as if this neglect of light in visual studies has led people to believe that “the eyes are screens which let no light through, leaving us to reconstruct the world inside our heads, whereas the ears are holes in the skull which let the sound right in so that it can mingle with the soul.“ Overall, what Ingold explored leads me to the conclusion that it would be very unfortunate if studies of auditory perception followed in the steps of visual studies which have lost touch with light, and lose touch with sounds itself.

What is sound?

Vibrations?

Is it something we register inside our heads?

Does it belong to the material world or the mind?

Can we dream it?

These statements divide the idea of sound to mind and matter. Ingold argues that sound is neither mental nor material, but a phenomenon of experience. Referring to Merleau-Ponty and embodiment. This reminded me of the core principal of CBT/psychotherapy as it aims to teach people to cope through understanding their body mind connection and perceive it as one, rather than separating physical symptoms from mental or emotional ones.

KAHN, Douglas (2013). “Microphonic Imagination”. In Earth Sound Earth Signal:

Microphonics – describes the phenomenon wherein certain components in electronic devices transform mechanical vibrations into an undesired electrical signal.

When telephones were first creates, microphones were an integral piece of their technology. They amplified real and imaginary, natural and unnatural worlds of small sounds, just like a microscope revealed tiny parallel universes. Microphonia became a part of the art > such as John Cage’s experimentalism or even Nano arts.

Micro acoustics – magnifying the most minute sound to a distinctly audible level.

This text also revisits how scientists described different sounds, often going back to the sound of the footsteps of a fly or a fly screaming right before its death. An article on the Littell’s Living Age, the Boston-based literary magazine, called “The Microphone” also had speculations as to how the microphone may enable people to hear light (its sound spectra), more specifically the sound that a star might make and maybe even the moon.

Spectroscope – an apparatus for producing and recording spectra for examination.

Today, sound spectra are usually measured using. a microphone which measures the sound pressure over a certain time interval, an analogue-digital converter which converts this to a series of numbers (representing the microphone voltage) as a function of time.

Chris Cornish

is an artist who focuses on the use the camera and computer as a way of perceiving the world from a singular viewpoint. He reshapes existing objects into something new through lifting specific information off of them and applying it in a totally new, unexpected and maybe even inconvenient way.

Chris Cornish graduated from Slade School of Fine Art in 2004, he did his undergraduate in painting and later on became interested in making 3D film and virtual theatre sets. He believes that the surface of an object neglects the volume and the environment it is in which leads to the concept that colour can significantly change how one reads an object.

There is mystery everywhere, 2015, (Cornish, 2015)

To expand on the technicality of the creation of his work we can take this sculpture as an example. It is a colourful digital sphere which presents how a 2D image can work in a 3D space, interaction of 2d and 3d data. Chris Cornish has used a normal mapping technique where every red green and blue data point/pixel translates into x y and z . There’s a relationship between the 2d and the 3d image which allows mapping to create a perfect sphere. There is also a sort of shadow created through the different shades of colour which create this illusion as it is not an actual shadow being cast on the sculpture.

Through his sculpture and the 2D and 3D communication, Cornis questions what happens if you take an object and try to extract that out of that location but keep the illumination of the place and almost try to freeze it. How he goes about to explore this concept is he photographs a space around him, the way you would for a sky box, it has to be spherical, and he imports these photographs into a polygon based software and pushes the limits of black and white illumination to the max in order to focus on the light in the scene of that photograph. What also interested me is that he is clearly very focused on the digital and how he can manipulate perception through technology, yet the final piece is handmade. I suppose this personal touch makes it more of an accurate record of time and space in relation to the process of his practice and this is really what he is looking to achieve.

Chris Cornish also walked us through some other techniques he uses in photography to achieve certain effects which I found intriguing and possibly relevant to my practise as a potential development. I always work with very specific colour palettes and that is almost inevitably always achieved in post production. I would however like to do some experiments in achieving vibrant and exciting effects through colours in the actual production. One technique Chris applies is to set the camera at different shutter speeds which starts to break down light and each image is complete random and individual and not repeatable. This produces a very specific atmosphere to a landscape, he describes it as the way that light refracts through the atmosphere when we see it in a sunset. These sort of images can also be used to create certain objects, almost like a portal into a different environment/ different world. One project he did was use this material on a 2m height door which was printed and mounted onto acrylic sheet through diasec.

Another technique he involves in his work is using polarizing filters. Traditionally polarization or polarized filters are used in nature and landscape photography in order to create a very vibrant blue skies through polarizing the light coming into the atmosphere. There is the option of using linear polarization, where depending on which way the filter is turned, one camera is seeing complete direct light, the other one is seeing diffused light. Whilst a neutral density filter can help to block light coming into lens.

I would like to think of Chris Cornish’s Professional business and creating 3D models for clients rather than for his art. There is a level of reality he is looking to achieve in his professional business and he even suggests the use of real life capture for facial expressions as a great way to make it look as realistic as possible. However is this hyperrealism the best way to communicate a concept? I personally find a lot of graphics which aim too high at simulation of humans to look rather disturbing. The uncanny valley hypothesis assumes that something that looks almost human immediately becomes perceived as eerie and daunting. There is a rather large gap left in this digital being in comparison to an actual human which doesn’t sit right in the overly perfected exterior. It is uncomfortable to perceive because it is unnatural, it is forced. Digitizing something instantly takes away its essence and translates it into a totally different thing that exists, however this push to convince the eye that it is in fact identical, made up of the same material and entity, is what doesn’t work for the perception of a human eye as we as the beings that are being ‘replicated’ recognize this forceful act and become repulsed by it.

Experiment in Manipulating Light through Colour.

Finally I would like to move on to the experiment of manipulating light in atmosphere during the production process, through adjusting shutter speed or other settings as well as possibly using some effects which are embedded in my Olympus PEN E-PL1,

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Professor Jo-Anne Bichard

“Space is the place”

Professor of Accessible Design

*how we use public spaces

*work is about experience

*anthropological point of view

The possible interaction in a space should allow for multi modal experiences including visual, auditory and olfactory.

Project 1. Public Toilets

For this project she was hired as the organisation wanted an anthropologist to work with architectures. That is because of the 3 aspects of design, which are the architectural design ( of the space), the product design ( of the toilets, paper holder etc)and finally the service design ( having toilet paper there all the time). In preparation for this project she audited 101 toilets around the UK and found 50 design features. Not 1 had followed the features set in the UK manual for public toilets Jo-Anne highlights the importance of inclusive design. This is a design technique which includes people in designing the project ,meaning that they are involved in the process such as the research or even a final project.

Inclusion can resolve issues as well as spot issues which big organisations might have not been aware of. Toilets are the last gendered spaces for people, but that is also slowly going away. There have been very expensive public intervention made essentially for drunk men as they were the only ones who could use them. A toilet which is embedded in the ground and comes up to be revealed that is in fact a urinal. The city also has a gendered use as women tend to be out more. Men tend to go to work and go back home. Women go to drop off kids at school, go to work, go food shopping, go to pick up kids from school and etc until they finally go back home. This means they actually need to use public toilets more.

Thinking about other ways that the space of a public toilet might be used like. Can the Space of the toilet be for taking some deep breath, or to cry, or to change your shoes or clothes. In public, a toilet is one of the only public ‘private’ spaces where one could do that. This is yet another reason for toilets to be comfortable and welcoming and nice to be in. Jo-Anne notes that if you need instructions to use a design, it has already failed, for example the soap, wash, dry Dyson contraptions are very often confusing to many people who are challenged to use them even though they have instructions, which shouldn’t be needed in the first place.

We also talked about toilets designed specifically for drug users which include certain items such as a syringe bin, a blue light, which doesn’t allow drug users to see their veins. The idea of the blue light however, went south quick as it led to more deaths and poison rather than stopping drug use. These sort of public toilets were everywhere in the 90s and apparently became a place for people to have sex as they found the blue lights very erotic.

Project 2. Our Future Foyle

This project started with getting financial investment from a public health agency in northern Ireland looking for ideas to enliven a city riverbank to prevent suicide. Samaritans: suicide Statistics Report (2017) > Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate. Males more often than women. Suicide has a cost – Knapp,McDaid and Parsonage, (2011) average one suicide costs 1.7million. Crisis level in Derry/Londonderry has suicide embedded in their language, the phrase “I’m about ready for the Foyle” means that they are ready to commit suicide. There is a lot of PTSD involved in their history. Jo-Anne referred to the Film “The Bridge” which talks about the golden gate bridge and how people go there to kill themselves specifically as it had become a hotspot and even romanticized. Their aim is to prevent the bridges in Ireland of reaching this hotspot level. The project started with building a wale to link back to a story when the two divided sides united when a whale passed in the river. They created a lot of events and workshops around it, following it they created more interactive sculptures and etc. Jo-Anne also thought about placing foil bubbles where guards would be to man the river and be on the lookout for suicides. These foil reeds, being put along the bridge and being lit could be used as a way of bringing more hope and vibrancy to the space and place, but could also be used further such as for cancer awareness week for example if all the lights are turned pink. That would be using it for further positive changes. The two aspects of the project were called Foyle experience; reducing suicides through sensory and cognitive means, and Foyle aware; a media campaign looking at suicide prevention and awareness.

Above is a continuation of the thought process and events that happened for the realisation of this suicide prevention project. As much as it entails some amazing aspects and has amazing intentions, I am not quite sure how successful a project like this would be in actively preventing suicide. Out of all of the interventions mentioned above, creating active barriers on a bridge and decorating them for further conceptual execution would probably be the most effective way in realising the aim of this project, which is to bring down the numbers of suicide by as much as possible. Unfortunately, creating workshops and embedding a sign of peace (the whale) within them will not erase or treat or even relieve PTSD and it will certainly not prevent suicide out of this cause too.