Saturday, 12 March 2011

Ways of Hearing

Its been quiet here since the Citizenscape project ended, but i'm reinstating this blog as the vehicle for my involvement in the Ways of Hearing project. I've just returned from the first workshop which I found to be challenging, stimulating and rewarding.
I intend to use the blog as my action research learning journal \ planner, so thought I'd get busy and post my thoughts on the emerging ideas behind what will become my research proposal. Having not prepared at all for today's workshop, I was forced to pull an idea out of thin air as the basis for my proposal early today. Rather than continue unfruitful railing against traffic noise I decided to focus on quiet areas and how to indicate their presence or status to citizens. My initial thoughts were about introducing some kind of enforced silence by some kind of public art intervention to stimulate active listening and thinking about tranquility and sound. I was thinking about quiet areas in Bristol, particularly Arno's Vale Cemetery - near where I live.
I was inspired by reference to sound oases and also parabolic sound concentrators, like those used as a primitive radar to warn of impending aerial attack in the early years of WWII. The silence could be introduced in the entrance to the quiet area to mark transition from noise to quiet, or be a discrete feature within the quiet area. The bristol group's active learning set later on challenged my ideas about this, particularly regarding whether an "installation" was appropriate, i.e. whether the goal could be achieved using people rather than things. I was encouraged to consider the proposal in the context of my role at work and research this aspect, and also the idea of using sound instead of silence to infer the quietness of the space.
Cycling back from the workshop I considered this idea further, exploring what the opposite of quiet and tranquility could be. The theme of war and battle sprang to mind. There are some military graves in Arno's Vale and it struck me that these could be the focus of an intervention which could highlight quiet, tranquility, reflection, history and emotional response.

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