Vertical Studies: Acoustic Shadows and Boundary Reflections II


Vertical Studies: Acoustic Shadows and Boundary Reflections II by Espen Sommer Eide and Signe Lidén at Borealis Festival 2017, Fjell Festning, Norway

Sound movement through the atmosphere is affected by wind profile, open landscape and winter temperatures that can bend the wave front, causing sounds to be heard where they normally would not, or vice versa, creating acoustic shadows. Building upon the archive of altitudinal sounds from Nikel and other areas we have visited, our next work Acoustic Shadows and Boundary Reflections centred on a new model of verticality. As an imaginative figure we experiment with sorting our archive of sounds by height. From the bottom of oceans, to the planetary boundary layer with land formations and weather shaping sounds, up through clouds to the outer atmosphere. Various locations (Sint Jansklooster water tower, Fjell Festning) were in 2017 re-imagined into models of the atmosphere to study this further.

Fjell festning, 11 March 2017: The cannon well at the fortress from WWII, a 15m high circular space with great acoustic properties, was used as a model for our vertical studies. Most of the sounds we worked with were created by wind-recording instruments. We also ran an experiment on the vertical life of birds, in which we created a model of bird songs from around the world sorted by frequency. Through our vertical speakers, telescopes with speaker elements, we could play sounds on the whole vertical axis of the space. By expanding the telescopes, different zones for the sounds of the archive were created. Resonating rods were fixed to the railings and functioned as impulse response instruments; when being resonated, their frequencies “cut” through the zones before filling the space with their omnipresence. After the session in the well was ended, the audience could go out and test the wind instruments in the gail.

Acoustic Shadows and Boundary Reflections II was commissioned by the Sonic Acts Festival with support from Norsk Kulturråd and Borealis Festival. Many thanks to Fjell festining. Photos by Xin Li.


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