I received research funding from the Canada Council for the Arts that involves listening to the sounds of insects that have been recorded in the Neuroethology Lab at Carleton University in Ottawa. This Lab is used to study and record the acoustics of insects, and focuses on the acoustics of caterpillars, bark beetles, and butterfly hearing.
I’m interested in amplifying and enlarging sounds that are unheard or taken for granted, and repurposing space. The use of insect sounds is an extension of this approach to working with sound, but also represents a new departure in my work. I have worked with field recordings before, but haven’t delved into the world of insect sounds. There is an abundance of material at the Labs in Ottawa, and it is a real privilege to have the opportunity to use this material in my work. I am also interested in investigating the implications of this hidden world of insect communication, and how these insects communicate through microscopic scrapes and rhythms.
I received research funding from the Canada Council for the Arts to explore working with contact mics on a staircase at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver. The idea was to use the sounds of the staircase in conjunction with patches in Max MSP to manipulate these sounds live. I ended up learning how to use Max within Ableton Live, and have created a small array of contact mics that can be attached to other architectural spaces in the future.
This was also time to think about architecture, stairs and sound. I researched the history of the staircase, and writing by architects and artists that approach space in a similar way. Juhanni Palaasma’s Stairways of the Mind brought me toThe Staircase by John Templer, which in turn brought me to Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor. Both Juhani Pallasmaa, and Peter Zumthor’s writing really encapsulates an artistic, poetic, and phenomenological view on architecture. Zumthor’s approach to space and the inherent energy and vibration that exists in different spaces due to various factors, and making observations about space such as – “Buildings that have a strong impact always convey an intense feeling of their special quality. They embrace the mysterious void called space in a special way and make it vibrate,” has really enriched my approach to architecture space and sound.
Having the time to research and think about the long history of stairs in various societies through out history has also added a depth to my practice as a sound artist who uses space and architecture as a medium.
From Stairways of the Mind:
“The stair is the symbolic spine of the house, whereas ascending a stair in dream-imagery signifies copulation. The qualitative differences of ascending and descending derive from the images of Heaven and Hell. Stairs appear frequently in literature, cinema and painting due to their extraordinary image power. The staircase is simultaneously a stage and an auditorium. It is also a vertical configuration of the labyrinth with consequent associations of vertigo, and getting lost. Our human reality has become threateningly concrete and one-dimensional as the environment has lost its symbolic dimension. One of the most demanding tasks of architects today is to re-mythologize and re-poetisize the built environment. Is it feasible that stairs would again come to express the existence of Heaven and Hell?”
From Thinking Architecture:
“The Hidden structures and constructions of a house should be organized in a way that they endow the body of a building with a quality of inner tension and vibration. This is how violins are made. They remind us of the living bodies of nature.”
“Buildings that have a strong impact always convey an intense feeling of their special quality. They embrace the mysterious void called space in a special way and make it vibrate.”
“A good building must be capable of absorbing the traces of human life and thus of taking on a specific richness.”
“Architecture is exposed to life. If it’s body is sensitive enough, it can assume a quality that bears witness to the reality of past life.”