Listening to the Architecture
Clerkenwell Magistrates' Court
7th August 2003
An installation for the launch event of BBC2's Restoration project
What happens if you magnify the sound of a room?
link to Installation Notebook
click on image for video extract
This is an amplified acoustic situation, a triple system variant of The Listening Room. The triple system is installed in such a way that the relationship of height, width and depth of the Courtroom will be exposed in a space which has an inherent architectural focus on the sound of the room. The installation is designed to cope with the flow of people through the space at a launch event where the work can not necessarily claim the time and passivity which might be implied by a gallery situation.
The amplification systems, electronically separate, inhabit the same acoustic space, and affect each other in ways that are not entirely predictable. The work assimilates and adapts to sound made in the space, the available feedback pitches are a function of the resonant frequencies of the architecture.
A documentary fragment of a moment within the installation, recorded on 7 August 2003
click on the speaker image
The technology consists of a system of microphones, noise gates, 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.