Sedimentary Soundscapes

In collaboration with Aloïs Yang

1 channel video projection, 5 channel sound system, bespoke AV interactive software, 2 microphone, acrylic tube, dust, found twig


Sedimentary Soundscapes (documentation of the installation)

3 min extracted version of the work, original duration is the duration of the show, run 7 days, 6 hours a day.
Preferably view with headphones

"Sedimentary Soundscapes” is a generative AV installation that investigates the medium of preserving soundscape, and how its materiality defines our future listening experience.

Archaeologists have only recently included acoustics in their investigations, leading to the formation of the field of “archaeoacoustics”, as sound appears to be extremely relevant to the shaping of modes of living, political institutions and cultural formations. However, sound cannot be preserved and passed on to the future on its own; we cannot hear the unrecorded sound from the past, nor imagine the hearing experience of the future. Unlike other forms of trace, sound has to be captured by a mediating agent in order to be experienced. It is therefore funda- mental to think sound in relation to materiality. Yet, there is a form in which matter presents itself that has a particular affinity with sound: dust. Slipping between the peripheries of tactile objects, but not yet falling into the microworld of atoms and molecules, dust is a nearly invisible matter that is always there. We breathe it in and out constantly. It is just above the threshold as a tangible substance.

Dust is omnipresent in space, and impermanent in time. We believe dust is a material organisa- tion that continuously records its surrounding soundscape without any decision-making. The message it carries has the potential to be the most objective; as an evidentiary trace of environ- mental states from the past, and possibly an archive of now for the future. Like a sedimentary rock, soundscapes at a location are layered through time on dust. As dust travels, each grain of dust has multiple spatial memories overlapping with each other. In the future, with new technology or human sensory evolution, listening to a collection of dust samples will be a multi-dimensional experience of time-space.

The installation serves as digital to dust “converter”, which is not purely “lossless information” from one format to another, rather, it includes the physicality of the exhibition space, characters of the technologies, and human presence. This process of “ambience concentration” is a real-time audio-visual system that fuses the pre-recorded landscapes (digital past) with the resonance of exhibition space (physical now) into various frozen sonic happenings. Each sonic moment will be encapsulated into the collected dust inside the tube.

This generative process is initiated by a pair of microphones mounted on a hanging twig. The system analyses ever-changing resonant frequencies of the space - in response to multi-channel spatial sound playbacks and involvements of viewers. The resonant data determines the thresholds of audiovisual information in a given time frame, which displays as fragmental audio feedback and frozen pixel lines. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, grain by grain, line by line, the unrepeatable fused digital audiovisual information, will be removed gradually until it is completely released.

Stills from the generative video: 

 @DEMO - Deptford Moving Image Festival, Enclave Lab