Urban Sonic Acupuncture
Aural strategies for the city space
This thesis accompanies the artistic projects I have implemented during my doctoral research as a reflection and summary. My practice ranges from traditional music composition to other forms of music-making, such as electroacoustic music, live electronics, generative art, and sound installations.
Urban Sonic Acupuncture is an artistic practice that intervenes in public urban spaces with sound composition elements that aim to alter the atmosphere of a place through subtle, almost imperceptible resonances, textures, and other forms of sonic infiltration. The practice consists of applying sonic pressure points to sites that affect the aural awareness and attention thresholds of the listeners. Interestingly, these altered attention thresholds remain in effect even after the listeners leave the site where the acoustic intervention happens.
Aural Weather exists without the need for an acoustic intervention, as a pre-existing acoustic atmosphere, upon which the urban sonic acupuncture practitioner acts. We can also understand Aural Weather as an organising principle: placing sounds in space rather than time. This principle promotes a listening mindset where the audience takes responsibility for the temporal narrative. The development and implementation of my the different Urban Sonic Acupuncture art-works build on this crucial concept.
Between 2016 and 2021, four artistic projects and several parallel test cases were carried out to explore these notions, illuminating aspects of public and urban spaces through sonic interventions. The first project was an indoor public space sound installation in a winter garden, the second one took the form of a museum concert promenade and resonance installation, the third project was an outdoor installation inside an underpass tunnel, and the fourth project presented a sonic perception exercise as a radio programme.
Within the processes of making these works, I found that the best results often arose from invisible, non-object-based interventions. Combined with ‘lowercase’ ambiguous sounds that blend with the environment, this approach helped me to achieve non-disruptive ways of infiltrating daily urban life and influencing site perception.
The projects sparked conversations among the general public, passers-by, and the local art scene. This non-disruptive approach to sonic public-space interventions has been shown to be an effective means of infiltrating daily life. Now aware of the existing aural weather, the transient audience is invited to a conscious urban sonic dwelling.