Venetian Sonic Environments

SanMarcoAmbiance is defined as sensory space-time. This sensing and feeling of a place involves a specific mood expressed in the material presence of things and how the mood is embodied. The lived experience as well as the built environment of the place is making the approach both subjective and objective. Ambiance is articulated when social, spatial and physical meet.

Venetian sonic ambiances are constructed in diverse ways in how people relate to places – or how they think particular places are relating to their sound-making. Tourists are entering churches with certain solemnity avoiding extraneous sounds. The Venetian busker is adjusting the outdoor acoustics by moving himself closer to the wall in order to project the sound of his bowed instrument to echoing campo. Open-door rehearsal of Vivaldi in Chiesa San Vidal is attracting passersby for the night’s Vivaldi concert. On Piazza San Marco simultaneous live performances of Mozart’s and Strauss’ music are competing with easy-to-digest jazz in front of the restaurants thus adding up to the image of the city as easy-listening-mid-brow music haven with a past.

12 million tourists are walking yearly the thoroughfares the ”Bermuda-Shorts Triangle” formed by Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge and Galleria dell’ Accademia. According to random participatory observation, field notes and field recordings the narrow roads were sonically quite diverse with sounds sources recognisable from each other. Keynote sounds – defined as sounds heard frequently enough to form a background against which other sounds are perceived – are composed of chattering of people and their footsteps reflected by the stony surfaces on the narrow streets and campos. Contrary to common practice in shopping and tourist areas there are no outdoor loudspeakers to centripetally attract possible customers. Somewhat scarce background music from the bars, souvenir shops and mobile phone retail stores of Rio Terra Lista de Spagna are leaking to ears of the pedestrians mainly from radio and commercial music television programmes.

Part of Venice’s charm is the lack of motorised traffic in the streets, which might not after all paint the whole picture of city’s soundscape. Marine internal combustion engines and outdoor motors make the distinctive drone signifying the daily maintenance of the city: the sounds of the public and private transportation and the crunching gearboxes shaking and resonating the vaporettos’ hulls are accompanied by the banging and clinking of the green-coloured iron barges collecting waste. Some of them are labelled as ”Veritas” thus bringing yet another layer to city’s multifaceted ambiance.

 

Heikki Uimonen

Souces:
Davis, Robert C & Marvin, Garry R. 2004. Venice, the Tourist Maze. A Cultural Critique of the World’s Most Touristed City.
Thibaud, Jean-Paul 2001. A Sonic Paradigm of Urban Ambiances. Journal of Sonic Studies, vol 1, nr. 1.

Photo:
Meri Kytö

Author: SARN

As of 2011 the Swiss Artistic Research Network (SARN) is a platform for the coordination and communication of activities between and around the artistic research community of Switzerland’s art schools and internationally. Since the implementation of the Bologna Reform and the start of the MFA programmes in Switzerland (2008) artistic research has attracted interest and vibrant debate. In close association with educational programmes and external partners, as well as independent artists, departments for artistic research have developed methodologies, results and strategies in numerous projects. It is SARN’s key assignment to initiate interaction, discuss standards and disseminate swiss artistic research. As established by the Conference of Swiss Schools of Art and Design (KHKD) parallel to the already existing Swiss Design Network. The SARN board members are representatives of the following schools: Academy of Art and Design Basel (FHNW) Bern University of the Arts (HKB) Ecole Cantonale d'Art du Valais (ECAV) Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Design & Art (HSLU D&K) Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) As representatives of the artists/artistic researchers we have a consultative role for the KHKD and thus see it as a key assignment to give the community a voice and visibility of the specific artistic qualities and independence needed to develop the field. The networks main areas of activities are the SARN workshops, conferences and this homepage. Central discussions and questions are: - visibility of artistic research - best practice and diversity in artistic research - funding and financing of artistic research - future PhD programmes in Switzerland

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