Acoustic Ecology

Approach the world through sound

A topic that has occupied us for a long time and increasingly influences us is that of acoustic ecology. As audio designers we try not only to approach our world through sound ourselves, but in general to bring people closer to the world we live in with the help of sound. It is our form of activism to point out the state of the world through the medium of sound.

Over the years, we have been involved in countless projects that deal with sound ecology in a variety of ways. The project '!Khwa ttu', for which we documented the acoustic habitat of the San in 2018 as part of the San-Heritage Center in Cape Town, South Africa, or for example the project 'Erde am Limit', which we developed in 2020 for the Natural History Museum Basel and which dealt with the influence of humans on the ecosystem of the earth.

Recently, the exhibition 'echt wild', for which we contributed the sound scenography, opened successfully in the National Park Center Zernez. The heart of the exhibition is the "wilderness room". In a 3-dimensional audio piece, visitors are taken on an adventurous acoustic journey through the national park. The soundscape composition shows different scenes from the biosphere of the national park, tells of symbiotic relationships, of natural forces and lets the visitors immerse themselves in perspectives that cannot be experienced in natura.

A current, ongoing project is the redesign of the Klangweg Toggenburg, where we oversee the entire process from the sound scenography and curate the new sound art works. On this path, hikers can discover a variety of sound art works by different artists. These are integrated into the sound sphere of the surrounding ecosystem and thus function as an extension of it, sensitizing visitors to issues like noise pollution.

Swiss Society of Acoustic Ecology (SSAE)

For the past year, we have also been hosting regular Listening Sessions, in which we listen to and discuss field recordings, soundscape compositions, and sound art with a group of other acoustic ecology enthusiasts. In early 2023, we were privileged to present our work at the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) conference at ACA, Atlantic Centre for Arts, in Florida. The conference focused on acoustic ecology. Shortly thereafter, we co-founded SSAE (Swiss Society of Acoustic Ecology), a Swiss affiliate organisation of WFAE to focus on the development of acoustic ecology in Switzerland. The focus of SSAE lies on the national and international exchange between researchers, artists, students, and other societal stakeholders in the sense of a fundamental engagement with the soundscapes in the Alpine region and worldwide.

Complexity of soundscapes

Sound is complex. Some of the most extraordinary sound experiences cannot be created from scratch, they must be captured at the source. Adequately capturing the authenticity of culturally significant sound environments requires not only the right place and time, but also the right methods. 

In order to achieve the highest possible quality when transferring a situation to the exhibition space, a wide variety of factors must be taken into account: Does the soundscape sound the same at any time of day? Do different positions in an area have a different sound and therefore require different sonic perspectives? What happens outside of our hearing range (e.g. infra- and ultrasound or electromagnetic waves), what sounds are hidden (e.g. under water or above structure-borne sound)? These and other thoughts allow us to bring all the nuances of sound and thus its entire cultural significance into an exhibition and to the visitor*. 

We have worked on a number of field recording projects where we can demonstrate our approach to achieving the goal, including for the Sounds of Silence exhibition (an exhibition about silence) or more moor (a sound installation for the Klang Moor Schopfe festival). Below are two examples of recordings, the first of the phenomenon of singing ice and the second of the phenomenon of singing dunes.

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