David Cunningham
The Listening Room and Stairwell - Untitled
within the exhibition Sounding Spaces
NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC)

Tokyo Opera City Tower 4F, 3-20-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku,
Tokyo 163-1404
11 July - 28 September 2003
curated by Minoru Hatanaka

Installation notebook
ICC Gallery link
Double system installations

japanese translation
related Japanese translations from ATTA site

There are two installations in ICC, both in non-gallery spaces, the Lounge area and Stairwell.

The basic technology consists of a system of microphone, noise gate, amplifier and speakers in the room, arranged in such a way that when the microphone and loudspeaker begin to feed back the amplitude of the sound causes the noise gate to cut off the signal. The feedback notes resonate through the space accentuated by the reverberation time of the space.  As the sound falls below the threshold of the noise gate the system switches back on and the process continues.

Through the introduction of a low volume feedback within the system, notes emerge, pitches delineated by the solid architectural characteristics of the space and modified by the transient nature of people passing through the space and disturbing the air.  Available feedback pitches are a function of the resonant frequency of the space.

In contrast to the controlled, more obviously analytical installation work in the Lounge area, the installation within the stairwell between the fifth and sixth floors in ICC will be developed onsite.  A system of highly controlled amplification will audibly enhance and extrapolate what is already there - the peculiar resonant space created by the reflective ceramic shell of the stairwell.   One intention is to isolate/highlight singularities created by the architecture of the available space.

The technology consists of a double version of the system used in the lounge area.  The two systems, electronically separate, inhabit the same acoustic space, and affect each other in ways that are not entirely predictable.  The system will assimilate and adapt to any sound made in the space, including sound which leaks in from elsewhere in the building.

The English critic Andrew Wilson has written: "There is no metaphorical dimension, Cunningham's  work is a presentation of fact. He relies on isolating sonic or other sensory elements from the conditions of their sources and through subtle framing makes us aware of that which would otherwise be disregarded. This hum that surrounds our lives, by being isolated, is also magnified and the dynamism and effect of everyday actions made clear". (1)

For myself the most important quality is that it is a situation which is physically referential both to external contexts and to its own structure.  With this work it is important to maintain the scale, volume and complexity at a level which creates a coherent individual experience.  Less is more. 
The installations are centred on the following questions:

How can active listening be encouraged?
How does our awareness of acoustic surroundings influence our perceptions?
What happens if you magnify the sound of a room?

The Listening Room The Listening Room, ICC, Tokyo

Stairwell Stairwell (untitled), ICC, Tokyo 
aerial view

(1) Andrew Wilson, Days Like These, Tate Britain 2003

Installation Notebook  

return to:
Activated Space